Visa Europe CEO: Putting commercial muscle behind diversity and inclusion is 'the next frontier'

Lara O'Reilly
Executive Producer
Visa Europe chief executive Charlotte Hogg. Photo: Piers Cunliffe

Visa Europe CEO Charlotte Hogg was awarded 20th place in this year’s HERoes Top 100 Women Executives list. The list, released by diversity and inclusion network INvolve and supported by Yahoo Finance, celebrates women who are leading by example and driving change to increase gender diversity in the workplace. View the full HERoes Top 100 Women Executives list here.

The global payments industry is undergoing huge transformation, from embracing new technologies like artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies, to advancing financial inclusion in the developing world.

“My view of organisations in a time of enormous change is that they need to be comprised of as diverse a set of experiences and backgrounds as possible,” Visa Europe CEO Charlotte Hogg told Yahoo Finance UK. “We need a very broad range of talent.”

A key focus at Visa Europe has been the advancement of women in the workplace. The company has sought to grow the number of women in senior leadership roles, launched mentoring and training schemes, expanded its employee networks to cover more areas, and seeking to recruit talent from a wider pool of candidates, Hogg said.

‘Putting commercial muscle behind diversity and inclusion’

Hogg said “turning point” in that strategy, not only at Visa but for women’s empowerment more broadly, was Visa’s decision to become the first ever sponsor of UEFA women’s football. The partnership is set to run until 2025. Visa was also a sponsor of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this year.

“Putting commercial muscle behind diversity and inclusion is kind of the next frontier,” Hogg said.

Charlotte Hogg (centre), CEO of Visa Europe announcing Visa'a UEFA partnership, joined by Visa apprentices, Munirah Sawyers (left) and Olivia Ironmonger. Photo: Visa Inc

Women make up a huge proportion of financial decision makers who control the household budget, and so the sponsorship chimes with Visa’s mission to enable consumers, businesses, and economies to thrive, Hogg said. It also aligns with Visa’s Foundation goals for women entrepreneurs, she added.

“It works for us because women are a really important part of community, society, financial decision makers and our sense is if we throw our weight behind it, some of that under-representation [such as the stark pay disparity between women and men footballers] begin to diminish and participation, which is the real focus, will increase,” she added.

Hogg says the sponsorship has changed the way Visa’s clients engage with the company and how colleagues think about the company.

“There is no one thing you can do that will fundamentally change an organisation to make it more inclusive,” said Hogg. A combination of efforts and putting financial weight behind them “is very powerful and supports not just what we think is the right thing to do, but supports our commercial interests as well,” she added.

The ‘portfolio of talent’

Looking ahead, Hogg looks to help Visa double down on refining the recruitment process to ensure it is more inclusive and positioned to bring in a broader range of talent.

“I think many people see — in any organisation, in any industry— there’s quite a narrow definition of what good looks like and that probably is underpinning a whole set of unconscious biases,” Hogg said.

Visa Europe's Charlotte Hogg. Photo: Visa Europe

That involves ensuring job descriptions themselves are not biased or could mean bringing more interviewers with different backgrounds into the recruitment process, she said. Hogg acknowledged that might also mean the same candidate may need to come in for multiple rounds of interviews.

“People treat recruitment as if it’s a one off game and there’s a pass and fail,” Hogg said. “There isn’t. There’s a portfolio of talent you bring in and the portfolio is very important.”

Yahoo Finance is supporting diversity and inclusion network INvolve’s EMpower, HERoes, and OUTstanding role model lists. Nominations for the 2019 OUTstanding role models lists are now open.