First Data's Cindy Armine-Klein takes having pride in her work to a whole different level.

When Armine-Klein joined the company in May 2014, First Data held a 45% rating on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. The Human Rights Campaign's index is a widely used measure to benchmark corporate policies and practices regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

Today, First Data holds a score of 100% on the index, a signal of how instrumental she has been in promoting progress on LGBT issues in the workplace. Despite her impressive resume — in addition to her current role as First Data's chief control officer, she has also served as chief compliance officer at both JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup — she lists this accomplishment as the proudest moment of her career.

"I am a firm believer that employees should embrace the idea of bringing 'their whole selves' to work – something that I do every day," said Armine-Klein, who has been married to her wife, Geri, since 2011. Together, the women have two kids.

Armine-Klein serves as the executive sponsor for the company's LGBT affinity group, UNITY. First Data has also implemented new and increased benefits for domestic partners' children, supplemental life insurance and coverage for transgender individuals who are transitioning.

The company's anti-discrimination policy also now includes gender identity. Additionally, First Data has issued an LGBT Ally Support Pledge, which was signed by the company's management committee and its top 300 executives.

"When people know they have allies they truly feel comfortable being who they are which makes them most productive and creative," Armine-Klein said.

But while she serves as a major supporter of inclusion in the workplace, her day-to-day job largely involves keeping the bad guys out. As chief control officer, Armine-Klein oversees First Data's risk and compliance groups, meaning cybersecurity is always on her mind.

"The cybersecurity landscape is changing 24 hours a day – there is a constant evolution of new threats and mechanisms of attack," Armine-Klein said. "Given the world that we live in, I worry most about a compromise to our clients' data."

Armine-Klein and her team work diligently to create data-centric security models to complement more traditional security approaches. In her opinion, that means maintaining several layers of controls and tripwires that keeps the company aware of any outside interference. And, of course, there's a back-up plan if all else fails.

"If a worst case scenario was to occur and data was compromised, it should be unusable to unauthorized parties," Armine-Klein said.

This article is part of PaymentsSource's 25 Most Influential Women in Payments feature. Follow these links to see a full list of all honorees or a slideshow of the featured executives.

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