If 53% of the recruitment industry is female, why don't we see more women in director level positions?

Yesterday 7 of the women in our London office attended a Women in Recruitment event in support of International Women’s Day. It was an empowering discussion from the panel about the attributes which make women great at recruitment along with sharing their success stories and struggles which we can all relate to.

The recruitment industry is made up of 53% women – this was Ann Swain’s opening statement at the WIR event held earlier this week. Ann, the chair of the event, is the founder and CEO of APSCo. However, she went on to say, this is not reflected at board level. A theme that ran throughout the event was; why is this? 

The panel, made up of Angela Middleton, Jo Mortimer, Yvette Cleland, Toni Cocozza and Melanie Forbes, discussed the reasons for this gap. A recent WIR study found women tend to leave their recruitment careers earlier than their male colleagues but the panel all agreed this was not because there is a glass ceiling, it was much more to do with us holding ourselves back!

Is it that women don’t see longevity in a recruitment career?  The panel agreed in general that women have less confidence and are more cautious about whether they will maintain billings. Perhaps it’s the level of pressure involved, interestingly Angela suggested it might be to do with the level of rejection one receives. Or is it the reputation of recruitment?

Despite all these questions the panel were very positive about change in the industry for both men and women.

They commented on how technology has hugely changed how we recruit people but it’s also having a significant effect on company culture. Flexibility was a key pointing talk, along with holistic programs that promote mental and physical well-being. Fundamentally, it’s the recognition that recruitment is a business based on people and not everyone has the same motivations so engaging with people emotionally is increasingly important. Yvette specifically talked about how important it’s become in her business to ask how people are feeling about their work.

The final issue, which brought the discussion back to why we don’t see more women in c-suite positions, was how to push for a promotion. Melanie Forbes tells us that she asked her boss, “what do you think I’m worth?”. The advice was to do your research, build a business case and articulate where you add value above anyone else in the business, so your manager just can’t refuse. 

During the discussion Melanie commented, "If you can't see it, you can't be it" and that’s what women in recruitment is all about - it gives us exposure to these inspiring women who have forged long term careers in recruitment.

 

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