Celebrating the Achievements of Women in the Workplace Every Day
International Women’s Day celebrates the accomplishments of women, while recognizing the ongoing need to close the gap in gender equality. The 2020 International Women’s Day theme is #EachforEqual, meaning collectively, everyone plays an important role in creating a gender equal world. Alliance Data’s efforts to foster an environment of diversity, equality and inclusion has been recognized within the Company (62 percent of the global workforce is made up of women) and beyond. Over the last year, Alliance Data was named one of the 2019 Best Workplaces for Women by Great Place to Work and FORTUNE, included on Forbes’ 2019 list of Best Employers for Women and named to the 2020 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI).
Alliance Data knows that gender equality is good for business, and good for the world. In recognition of International Women’s Day and the continuing collective action toward gender equality every day, women throughout the Alliance Data enterprise share their individual thoughts and stories on being a female leader in a global organization:
Why is International Women’s Day important?
Laura Santillan, SVP, Finance, Alliance Data: It is important to promote the achievements made by women and acknowledge the progress that has been made so far, but it is also a significant opportunity to reflect on what still needs to be accomplished to achieve full gender equality.
Pinar Ozyetis, General Counsel, LoyaltyOne: I strongly believe in the perspective that is advanced by organizations like Catalyst – that progress for women is progress for everyone. Alliance Data and its lines of business, like the AIR MILES® Reward Program in Canada, do a lot to promote diversity and inclusion. International Women’s Day provides an opportunity for focused, deliberate reflection about how far we’ve come and progress yet to be made.
Tell us about a female mentor or leader throughout your career that has been particularly inspiring.
Sarah Gaver, Senior Manager, Strategy and Market Insights, Alliance Data Card Services: I have been very fortunate to have worked for women I respected and admired throughout my career. Over my five years at Alliance Data, Julie Fire, Vice President, Enterprise Delivery, stands out as a leader who has been particularly inspiring.
Julie is authentic, collaborative and a true advocate. I appreciate her ability to connect people to the bigger picture, challenge the status quo and advocate for her people. Julie has grown her career while raising a family and giving back to the community. When it comes to balance, I love the glass and rubber ball juggling metaphor; at any given time, you have a number of balls in the air and it’s important to recognize what is rubber and what is glass – what you can let go and what’s critical at that moment in time. Julie embodies that.
Laura: I would say that the culture at Alliance Data is one in which if you excel at your job, assume additional responsibility and work hard, you are rewarded. During my over 15 years with the Company, I have been able to witness women across the organization in positions of power and executive leadership, women who were great at their job and truly impacted the organization and women who lead by example through actions one could emulate. Being a leader means setting a good example and helping others be more effective.
What excites you the most about the work you do at Alliance Data?
Pinar: As General Counsel for LoyaltyOne, I have the privilege to regularly work with many Associates including members of our Senior Leadership Team (SLT). I have always been impressed by how smart, capable and motivated our Associates are. Through my day-to-day functional role, and by virtue of being on our Women’s Leadership Initiative Advisory Committee, and the mentorship roles that I have, I am fortunate to form meaningful, positive relationships with many of our Associates. A core value of mine is that the success of our lives can be measured by the strength of the relationships we’ve formed throughout it, and so the opportunity to work with a wide range of quality people is both inspirational and exciting.
Laura: The opportunity to contribute and be involved in the Company’s most significant strategic decisions has been exciting. You have to have a thorough understanding of the impacts of the options being weighed on the organization to ensure they are accounted for correctly. Who said accounting couldn’t be exciting?!
What advice would you give a woman just starting out in her career?
Sarah: Your career may not be linear and that’s okay. In fact, it could work out for the better. I started my career in consulting, candidly, not because I planned to but because it was one of the few businesses hiring during the recession. It seemed interesting enough and I needed a job (not talking points that I included in the interview). During my time, I worked for a number of clients across a range of industries. I was able to leverage my experience with a hospital system to move into health care where I led the marketing function. And my work developing training programs for two large issuers provided helpful experience when I joined Alliance Data. It’s not what I imagined my career path to be when I started, but I’ve learned so much and had the chance to do really interesting work.
Find more information on Alliance Data’s commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion here.