Celebrating Women’s History Month
March 31, 2022 | Company News
March 31, 2022 – This March, Forward Financing celebrated Women’s History Month by spotlighting women-identifying employees, hosting events, and relaunching the Diveristy, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Employee Resource Group (ERG). Over the past year, the company formalized its DEI initiatives and hired a full-time member of the People & Culture team to spearhead its efforts.
They kicked off the month on International Women’s Day with an employee spotlight on Kenia Gomez, General Manager of their Dominican Republic (DR) subsidiary. Kenia started her career in supply chain and international commerce but was drawn to the fintech world for a change of pace. Today, she manages the day-to-day and corporate strategy of the DR operation. Since joining Forward back in 2018, Kenia has grown the DR office to over 170 employees that handle key functions of the company’s funding process and customer experience.
When asked to give advice for women entering the fintech industry, Kenia says “Authenticity and adaptability are key. Be creative, be decisive, and speak your mind. There is so much that women can bring to the table! Do not allow anyone to make you believe you don’t deserve it or you’re not worth it. You’re not an imposter – trust your knowledge, trust your preparation, and trust yourself.”
Throughout the month, the company also highlighted additional female-identifying employees by compiling fun facts and statistics about each, and asking other team members to help identify the mystery woman described. In the end, the women were revealed to be Taylor Lawson, Senior Underwriter, Jill Capadanno, Manager, New Sales, and Monique Haynes, Compliance Counsel, and the rest of the team was able to learn more about their backgrounds and accomplishments.
During the week of March 14, Forward hosted two interactive workshop sessions with Melanie Ho, PhD titled “Reimagine Workplace Equity Through Comics.” During the sessions, Melanie walked the group through a unique way to look at gender equity in the workforce, particularly through the use of comics and art. The team was challenged to look at work situations, the impact those situations may have had on the individual women in the organization, as well as the overall organization’s performance. Melanie helped attendees to shift their mindset from asking women purely to “lean in” but instead look at what systemically impacts women at work, and how employees can be creative in solving the issues, intervening before they happen, and being an impactful ally to women in the workplace.
Throughout the sessions, Melanie used the sports metaphor of “points vs. assists” to exemplify how men and women have been socialized to act differently in the workplace. She pointed out that men are typically guided to “score more points” by sharing ideas and taking initiative to lead projects. On the other hand, Ho says, women are socialized to “support more assists” by elevating others’ ideas, work, and projects for the greater good of the team.
Katie Franklin, Senior Generalist, People & Culture, found Melanie’s stance on “points of intervention” to be especially impactful. “There are so many points of intervention that can happen in a workplace to help make things better in the long-term,” Ho said. “So many things happen that can lead up to a certain instance – if you put the right systems in place to address these items ahead of time, you can help mitigate things like recency bias.”
Additionally, Vice President of Technology, Brittney St. Germain, hosted a Women In Tech lunch for the female-identifying members of the company’s technology team in celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. During the session, the attendees had the opportunity to ask questions, share their experiences working in tech, and discuss any challenges they have faced as women in tech.
Relaunching the ERG
In March, Forward relaunched their DEI ERG. In the first session, the group learned about the current gender pay gap and discussed data on why the pandemic caused more women than men to leave the workforce in 2020. They also reviewed data on the division of labor as it relates to household duties (e.g., childcare, groceries, cleaning, etc.) and saw that women are still largely expected to take on the majority of housework, even if earning more than a male partner.
During the session, the group discussed their individual upbringings, and how those experiences may have influenced the division of labor in their households today. Employees talked about how these expectations may translate into a work setting, recognizing that “housekeeping” duties in the office often fall onto women. The group wrapped the discussion with ideas on how to create a more equitable and inclusive environment in the workplace.
About Forward Financing
Forward Financing is a Boston-based financial technology company that provides fast, flexible capital to small businesses nationwide that have been long underserved by traditional financing options. By simplifying the requirements, streamlining the process, and using advanced proprietary technology, Forward Financing is able to deliver approvals within minutes and funding within hours — giving more businesses the financial opportunity they need to thrive. Plus, with their dedicated teams and award-winning service, customers get personalized support when they need it most.
Since 2012, Forward Financing has expanded Main Street’s access to capital by providing over $1.3 billion in funding to more than 35,000 small businesses. The company is A+ rated by the Better Business Bureau, with an ‘Excellent / 4.9 stars’ rating on Trustpilot.com. Forward Financing was named a Best Place to Work by the Boston Business Journal and Built In Boston and has been named by both Inc. magazine and the Boston Business Journal as one of Massachusetts’ fastest-growing companies each year since 2017. Forward Financing is committed to helping their people and the small businesses they serve to achieve their full potential.
Webcomic illustrated and designed by Melanie Ho.