Here’s to Strong Women; may we know them; may we be them; may we raise them

5 mins

Tuesday's event for Women in Recruitment really embodied this theme. Here I sat, in a room o...

By Amy Halls

Senior Marketing & Talent Manager

Tuesday's event for Women in Recruitment really embodied this theme. Here I sat, in a room of strong, successful and inspiring women. Yet all of us were asking the same questions, the reason we got together; what is it about our profession that causes us to lose too many of these talent women in the middle of their career?

Here are some figures for you – women make up 53% of the recruitment profession but when we look at board level, this stat is not reflected across the industry. While we hire and attract talented women into the recruitment profession, women tend to leave the profession earlier than men.

We can only draw upon our own experiences to reason why and try to find a solution. Sat listening to Ann Swain (APSCo CEO) and Angela Middleton (CEO & Chairman of Middleton Murry) discuss this issue, several things became clear:

  • We lose most women in the first 18 months to 5 years of their career
  • The reasons for this tend to be culture, environment, values & motivators
  • The lack of clear role models can make it harder to see long term career progression & sustainability
  • There is a perception of a glass ceiling, but regardless of whether this is there or not; you need to ask for it and go for it more
  • Lack of belief in ourselves, male and female alike, can stop us from going for that next position or asking for what we really want
  • Presenteeism; can we really work flexibly when our customers and team mates demand face time with us?
  • How big is the variety of roles open to women? Are there enough opportunities within the profession to grow into?
  • Even those of us who are lucky enough to work in businesses who support women, and men, in a variety of ways can find it hard to speak up and ask the hard questions.

So how can we, as a collective, stop losing hordes of talented women and encourage recruitment as a career?

A few tangible solutions were spoken about by the panel made up of Angela Middleton, Jo Mortimer (Director, Angela Mortimet), Yvette Cleland (CEO< Clinical Professionals), Toni Cocozza (CEO/Founder, DP Connect) and Melanie Forbes (MD, Contingent Workforce Solutions, AMS).

My personal favourite was “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it” Melanie Forbes. Creating opportunities, increasing choice and differentiation the way that we incentivise/remunerate our employees could totally change the game.

Vison & Longevity: all employees need a visionary role to work towards and a leader – to see women achieving to be able to understand what they can work towards promotes visionary leaders and something to strive towards. If you can’t see the long-term vision of a business, team or career you can’t achieve it. Recruitment is not always seen as a long term career – if we want it to be then we have to nurture people and show them the path that they could take; careers aren’t liner.

Remuneration: There is an insecurity of finance long term on a commission-based model. What if, rather than the low basic salary and high commission structure of old, we change the remuneration structure? Those with families can’t always put in the 10-12-hour days needed to create the high commission. So, while we have the power to change it why don’t we? Shouldn’t we be compensating those with a family or who want to work flexibly in different ways.

Flexible working: with technology we no longer need to be in the office to be working. Creating an environment of trust and collaboration will still create big results and impact your bottom line, but these key people might not be physically present in the office.

Flexible working doesn’t just mean hours in the office but also being paperless, meetings on phone/video chat and not time monitoring so that people get trusted to do the work how they need it.

Values & Motivations: Are there enough conversations happening to elicit values and motivations of your employees? Is everyone motivated by money and commission or are there other factors at play? There is not enough being done to address culture, environment, benefits can be antiquated (company cars, nights down the pub, basic maternity leave etc) which doesn’t align to millennial women.

Glass Ceiling: Do we hold ourselves back from opportunities or is there a glass ceiling? Is there actually something there stopping us? Sometimes. But also, are we putting ourselves out there enough or having our peers and superiors (men and women) come to us to ask us to go for opportunities?

Rejection: women are less in their comfort zone when being rejected and this holds them back from asking for things, going for opportunities and jobs.

Pride: Recruitment professionals don’t have pride in the job or profession, how many of us have felt embarrassed when asked what we do at a party?

How we can change the culture of recruitment businesses to create a more holistic environment:

  • Healthy challenges and team incentives based on fitness, health and vitality
  • Meditation / mindfulness spaces – create the opportunity and ability to take time out to focus
  • Podcasts and ted talks – use more intelligent ways to engage people & share information
Focusing on healthy initiatives will drive more results and higher engagement as well as increasing the bottom line and retention.

Key Advice from the panel to women in the recruitment profession:

Advice from Angela Middleton “things always take longer than you think they will” and “if you set your sights on something you can do it”

Advice from Yvette Cleland “Ask for it! They can only say no!”

Advice from Toni Cocozza “When looking for the job do your research, identify where you could add more value than anyone else, sell the opportunity to bring you in and what revenue you would bring and then ask to share it”

Advice from Jo Mortimer “manage upwards, build a business case, be your best advocate – just go for it!”

Advice from Angela Middleton & Ann Swain “Find a mentor and be a mentor! Great women help make great women”

Kate Dickenson, Senior Consultant – Media Agencies

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