Some of the pandas attended the Women in Recruitment 2015 Survey launch. Our creative panda, Yasmin, was one of the lucky attendees. She shares her thoughts on the survey results, and women in recruitment!
Women in Recruitment: findings from the 2015 survey
I didn't grow up dreaming about becoming a recruiter. Unlike many career paths, recruitment is not something you can traditionally study for at university, or attend vocational training for - nor does it seem to be a career people typically aspire to pursue. As one of these happenstance recruiters myself I am all too familiar with the phrase "I fell into it!" when it comes to my profession.
Despite the fact that our journeys were an accident, it seems that for current and future graduates there is an open discussion emerging about becoming a recruiter. This is to say actually graduating with the desire to set foot in the world of recruitment. However, with more young men and women embarking on this career path but still a higher proportion of women leaving the sector before they reach the heady heights of recruitment greatness, it seems important that there are organisations out there that exist to help empower women to achieve their full potential in the world of recruitment.
I am going to caveat the following musings with following - I am lucky that cranberry towers and the wonderful men who own the company do not fall into (nor anywhere near) the bracket of people who disempower women or inhibit their career growth. In fact I'd go as far as to say there is no distinction whatsoever between male and female panda cubs (isn’t this how it should be?) and I am grateful that my foray into recruitment started with such an open minded and equal opportunities focused company.
However having attended APSCo's Women In Recruitment event last week, I was intrigued to hear about the non-progressive tendencies of more established recruitment industries and their support (or lack thereof) of women in their businesses. Women in Recruitment are an initiative that exists to help empower women to achieve their full potential in the world of recruitment. Their aim – “to influence change in an enlightened recruitment industry”. I think it’s great that women and men are being encouraged to work together to realise an enlightened professional approach to equal opportunities and encouraged by the fact that the event was well attended by men as well as brilliant women from our industry.
The right approach to recruitment – for women AND men
Thankfully, it would seem ecommerce is too young and progressive a sector to adopt the historic values and tendencies of some other sectors (which shall remain nameless!) However, the fact that this initiative exists leads me to believe that their presence must be necessary - there must be truth behind the claim that women in recruitment often leave the profession before they realise their potential. It got me thinking. Even though I fell into this profession, I have every intention of sticking it out for the long haul. I envisage cranberry panda and the career ladder offered to me to enable my growth and betterment will allow me to climb to the top of said ladder if I am willing to apply myself.
As far as I’m concerned it comes down to one simple question, for women and men – “how much do you want it and how hard are you willing to work?” So long as the avenues are open to us in equal measure I see no stumbling blocks as far as my career is concerned (in fact I was very encouraged to hear that traditionally women are better recruiters and billers – money makers – than men!)
Is ‘lack of confidence’ a recurring problem?
However one aspect of the study (conducted by Westminster Business School) which really rang true was “lack of confidence” having a detrimental effect on careers - something I think a lot of women suffer from (and possibly men – I couldn’t comment from personal experience!) Confidence in their own ability and competency, confidence to create significant impact in their organisation, confidence to achieve what is needed to get to the top of the tree.
In fact over 40% of respondents to their survey identified lack of confidence as an inhibitor in their career and fast track to greatness. I think this figure would probably ring true across sectors outside recruitment, and certainly needs to be addressed to encourage more people to aim for greatness rather than settle for average career aspirations. It also got me thinking about applicants to my roles and how this could impact my clients and the businesses I service.
There was a very interesting analogy about male vs female approaches to job applications. It went something along the lines of this - a man can do the first three of the ten desirable skills for a role and will apply, whereas a woman might tick off the first seven as being well within her remit but when she sees the last two or three and feels sub-standard, will hold off making an application. Now I’m not sure I totally agree with this - I think this “lack of confidence” could be more gender neutral than this particular study suggests. However what is clear is we (as individuals and organisations) need to raise the confidence of graduates, midlevel management and those beyond if we want to ensure they reach their full potential.
Combatting the confidence problem
We need to instil in them a sense of self-worth and belief before they reach the crossroads of big, impactful career decisions so they are better equipped to move forward into roles they are more than capable of excelling in. Of the respondents to the survey, around 90% said that “confidence impacts promotion prospects”. Whether this is females or males, surely we are missing out on top talent reaching the upper echelons of our business by not investing in training, mentorship programmes and clearly defined career paths early on?
I know what it is to feel lacking in confidence and I have watched a number of my candidates suffer at the hands of absent self-esteem. Wouldn’t it be nice if all industries, sectors and businesses made a conscious effort to invest in the future of tomorrow now? Provide equal opportunities to the men and women in their workforces and ensure that we are enabling everyone to reach their potential? As I say, I am grateful for my current lot and the encouragement and mentorship that are a regular part of my day-to-day as an ecommerce recruiter.
Long may it continue! I only hope that we can take these findings and use them to inform our businesses and career opportunities moving forward. Because there should be more women at board level in businesses – not more than men, just equal. This is an exciting time for ecommerce as our clients’ businesses continue to thrive and grow. In terms of recruitment for them and us internally I am excited too, and as an ambitious female in a thriving industry can’t wait to see the effect of the brilliant work APSCo are doing.