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Riya Anne Polcastro headshot

'Deputized To Be Change Agents': How Mastercard is Working To Move the Needle on Gender Equity

Mastercard - employees in the workplace - gender equity in the workplace

Global gender equality is three centuries away, according to the United Nations, though equity in the workplace could be achieved in half that time. Moving the needle any faster will require major investments in addition to proactive, broad-scope and value-based DEI initiatives. As such, the private sector has the opportunity — and the responsibility — to lead the charge toward a truly equitable future.

The authenticity of an organization’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) will ultimately show through in a number of metrics — from employee and customer loyalty to diversity among board members and C-suite leaders. But too often, DEI initiatives are relegated to a small corner within an enterprise when what is needed is a broader, more comprehensive approach. Businesses can ensure they are on the right track by making inclusivity and equity a part of the deeper value system. That value system integration can elevate its true importance and bring benefits to the whole enterprise.

TriplePundit sat down with Mastercard’s chief inclusion officer, Randall Tucker, to learn more about how the financial industry can approach DEI on a broader basis and achieve gender equity not just at the office, but in the larger marketplace as well.

TriplePundit: What makes Mastercard’s approach to DEI different from other initiatives? What’s behind its success?

Randall Tucker: It goes back to the Mastercard Way: It's not only what you do, but how you do it. A big part of that is inclusiveness. DEI stems from inclusiveness that is already active within the Mastercard Way, so it hangs on a bigger initiative — or bigger thinking within the organization — which is really powerful for our company. 

It's about having leaders sign up and author the strategy, because it can't be something done in the middle of the organization. At the end of the day, you need the top leaders within the organization to say, ‘This is important: Here are the things we live by, and here are the things we're going to do, so what we're striving for is based on our value system.’ Until that conversation happens, until they sign off on something or get behind something, it's very hard to make any real movement.

3p: How can a business ensure that its work around DEI aligns with its core values? 

Tucker: The only way that those core values actually show up is through proof points. By having representation at certain levels that match up with our census data, for example, we can know we’re being equitable. A DEI Strategy isn’t inclusive unless it focuses on creating an environment where everyone has the opportunity to succeed and their voices are valued. It’s a proof point that our value systems are not just things you see on posters, they can be defined and we can demonstrate what we've done to move the needle.

We’ve also made a commitment to equal pay. It’s important that for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes that same dollar. It’s about making sure people feel valued. People work because they need to support their lives and the lives of their families, so making sure they’re starting off from a place of equal pay is really important. We do external auditing on that — not only on gender, but on communities of color as well. 

And from an HR perspective, it’s important to ensure that women are experiencing the organization in the same way as men or other groups are. We conduct an All Employee Experience Survey annually, which is exactly what the name indicates: it allows us to gauge how our employees are experiencing life at Mastercard. The insights we receive help us understand if all groups are experiencing the organization in the same way. It allows us to use data to inform our action planning to ensure we’re making a positive impact – reinforcing with our employees that we’re listening, learning, and acting based on their direct feedback. 

Randall Tucker chief diversity officer of Mastercard
Randall Tucker, chief inclusion officer at Mastercard.  

3p: What about applying DEI beyond recruitment and promotion, such as with customers and the community at large?

Tucker: The efforts we make externally are centered around our commitment to financial inclusion. We've made a big commitment to bring 1 billion people, including 50 million micro businesses and small businesses into the digital economy. We’re also looking to help 25 million women entrepreneurs grow their businesses. It’s not just about individuals, but about developing communities, wealth, and access. That has been hugely important for us to be able to do for everyone, and especially for underrepresented communities, including women.

Further, as we look at developing the prosperity pipeline for women, we have a program called Girls4Tech which is introducing girls to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, and it is hugely successful. We probably won't see the full benefit for another 10 or 15 years, but you have to plant the seed. That's what Girls4Tech does: It plants the seed and, hopefully, it will germinate and grow and lead to a lot more women in STEM roles. 

3p: A lot of DEI programs miss the mark when it comes to including people with disabilities and neurodiversity. What can you tell us about Mastercard’s neurodiversity hiring pilot?

Tucker: We launched our neurodiversity program back in 2021 with our tech team, starting with a change to how we interviewed people. Not everyone is able to articulate in a way that is typically expected in an interview. We wanted to be able to accommodate them, so we set up alternatives where applicants can show that they can do the work instead.
I think that's innovative for us to say: We want this talent. This talent may not be fitting the box that we use all the time, but we're giving them our real-world test to see if they can do it. And they are exceeding our expectations. 
It’s an ongoing journey for us, we have a lot more to do in this space. The whole point is that there isn't a one-size-fits-all model. We want to be able to customize and meet the need of our employees, our customers, our community partners, and even our shareholders and investors.

3p: Does working from this broader DEI perspective give you a sense of empowerment in your work?

Tucker: Yes, it's almost like each of us within Mastercard has been deputized to be change agents. I've never been in an organization with so many volunteer opportunities or opportunities to do such amazing stuff. It’s really important to our culture and how we operate. And I think it's the secret sauce — our diverse experiences as an employee community make us successful as a company.

This article series is sponsored by Mastercard and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.

Image courtesy of Mastercard

Riya Anne Polcastro headshot

Riya Anne Polcastro is an author, photographer and adventurer based out of the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys writing just about anything, from gritty fiction to business and environmental issues. She is especially interested in how sustainability can be harnessed to encourage economic and environmental equity between the Global South and North. One day she hopes to travel the world with nothing but a backpack and her trusty laptop. 

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