Progress Driven By Diversity – Citi and UN Women
By Yolande Piazza, CEO of Citi FinTech September 28, 2017 09:00 AM
As the head of Citi FinTech, I’m often asked about the role of women in leadership and innovation. My answer is often the same, which is that when I arrive at our office every day, I’m surrounded and inspired by a diverse team of change-makers. Our team members come from five continents and backgrounds that span the range of banking and technology companies. Half of my leadership team are women and half of Citi FinTech’s workforce are millennials. I’m proud of our diversity, not just because the statistics demonstrate the authenticity of our commitment, but also because of the impact these individuals have had collectively on the way we work and the results we deliver. The blend of experiences and inclusive culture have been critical to our success and make me proud to work at Citi.
Most recently, I was honored to join the UN Women’s Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC). This is a group whose mission is to drive industry-wide action to accelerate the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. The GICC is building partnerships across the private sector, academia and non-profits to make real and lasting change. We’re working together to identify and remove the barriers to women and girl’s advancement in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.
This month, the GICC held its inaugural meeting, which coincided with the first UN Women Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship Industry Forum. I joined female leaders from MIT, HP, LinkedIn and Oracle on stage to discuss and debate the many obstacles and challenges that women and girls face in the digital age, along with the equally wide range of opportunities opening up for advancing gender equality in tandem with technological advancement. Working with the GICC is one way I’m able to champion Citi’s mission and to ensure that women are helping to drive progress in our time.
In addition to tackling today’s challenges, we need to look ahead and plan for our future workforce. The growth and pervasiveness of technology means there are more tech jobs across industries than ever, but women still aren’t pursuing these careers in the numbers that would really move the needle. According to research from the National Center for Women & Technology, women held the majority of all professional occupations in 2015. However, only 25% of all computing occupations were held by women. At Citi, we’re working to bridge this gender gap by educating, exciting and empowering our younger generation of girls to learn about careers in technology through our FUTURE | Women in I.T. program. We’re giving high school students a chance to gain hands-on experience and explore new interests with potentially big impacts, when they choose professional paths down the road. Our surveys showed that following our presentations, interest in pursuing careers in tech rose by 21%.
In many ways, a diverse team is the most fundamental ingredient to success, yet it remains one of the biggest challenges that organizations both large and small face. I’m passionate about championing diversity across financial services and technology, because progress will further enable growth and progress beyond Citi’s walls.