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8 ideas for March 8th – and beyond

6 minute read

by Monika Liikamaa & Denise Johansson, co-CEOs & co-founders at Enfuce.

We’re often asked about our perspective on International Women’s Day. We believe that this day serves as a powerful reminder of the progress made toward gender equality and underscores the importance of continually driving change and taking tangible actions to create equal opportunities for women.

That’s why, as a way to celebrate and commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day, we wanted to share eight insights aimed at empowering women in the business world and supporting them in their journey to have a seat at the table, whatever it means to them.

With over 40 years of combined experience across the financial service sector and fintech, we can confidently say that we have seen it all. Having launched and led a company that is disrupting the card payment space, we have weathered the ups and downs of an ever-changing sector, and we feel we have learned some valuable lessons along the way.

So, here is what we know so far. We hope that by having this honest conversation, we’ll be able to support women who want to start or change their careers, while raising awareness of the importance for women to have a seat at the table.

1. Women in leadership get sh*t done

Women’s diverse experiences and insights bring a fresh and unique viewpoint to the table – but not only that. Several studies show that companies with women in leadership positions perform better, and if better equality in the business world was achieved the GDP would rise by 13% in Europe. So let’s continue speaking up and advocate for greater representation!

2. Having real conversations has an impact

Don’t be afraid to have genuine conversations about the ups and downs of your professional path. Life is challenging, and we don’t always know what’s truly behind a woman’s success story. At Enfuce, we believe in the power of sharing our experiences and genuinely listening to others’ stories.

That’s why we dedicated several episodes of our podcast series “In The Hot Seat” and videos part of our ESG programme “Everyone Should Give a Damn” to talk about challenges for women in business, female representation and financial inclusion.

3. We can have it all – if we know what it is

There’s a constant expectation for women to have thriving careers and home life. We need to challenge the concept of having it all. Having it all has different meanings from person to person and for the same person in different phases in their lives. When we launched Enfuce we both agreed to commit to this journey 100% – but, as mothers of 2 and 4, never at the cost of sacrificing our families.

4. Uncertainty is part of life

But what if I fail? What if I make the wrong business decision? The truth is you will! An adult makes on average 35,000 decisions per day and everyone of them cannot be the right one. So we should just stop with all the “what ifs” and just do what we feel is right.

When Monika called me (Denise) about launching Enfuce I heard the energy in her voice and I just said “yes, I’m in, let’s do it”. Trusting your gut feeling and your own judgment is the number 1 skill to master.

5. Voice it out

When I (Monika) was asked to become a bank CIO and I knew that I needed a higher salary. When I told them “this is my minimum salary, under this I cannot come”, the CEO accepted and there is when I realised that you have to be able to speak up, you need to know what you want and then go after it. A seat at the table also means making sure your voice is heard.

6. There’s no plan B

If you start thinking about a plan B, you will give yourself a way out when the dark moments will arrive – and believe us, they will arrive. With only a plan A you will fight through it and you will go through it. As startup founders we have been through quite some bumps on the road. One of the main challenges we faced was the outbreak of the pandemic. We went from having several promising conversations to losing almost all opportunities within a few weeks.

7. It’s never too early or too late to change the course of your career

Founders are not born. They are made. This is especially true for us at Enfuce, and it holds true for anyone navigating their career path. We decided to found Enfuce when we both had decades of experience in the fintech sector, while we also had other opportunities coming up. What we need to teach the younger generation of women is that it’s ok to be ambitious and to work your ass off. And it’s never too late and it’s never too early to do something you’re passionate about.

8. Give a damn

At Enfuce we believe in leading by example and actively engaging with communities to foster diversity. We take an active role in educational events, graduation speeches, and mentoring programs at universities to promote fintech as a viable career option for women. By getting involved and taking concrete actions, we can not only contribute to the growth and empowerment of future generations of women leaders but also create a ripple effect of positive change in the world.

To wrap up – Having a seat at the table is not just about access. There’s so much more to it. That’s why we believe in taking concrete actions, both in our professional and personal lives, to make sure we can make a meaningful impact and drive changes.

While we may not be able to change everything that needs to change all at once, we can all take meaningful steps in the right direction and improve everyday, from advocating for women representation at industry conferences (often filled with a not so diverse majority) or putting in place solid D&I policies that truly address leadership positions, to raising awareness over women equality.

So let’s stay focused and continue to raise the bar. We hope that our insights will resonate with you and provide meaningful guidance to women seeking to initiate or reshape their careers.

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