International Women’s Day: Women in recruitment

This International Women’s Day, the Give a Grad a Go team is taking time to reflect on what it’s like to be a woman in recruitment.

Gender diversity in the recruitment industry, especially at senior level, continues to be a work in progress.

At Give a Grad a Go, we are proud to lead the way in terms of gender equality; our UK team is 56% female and 44% male, with a 50% male/female split at Director level.

We understand that by celebrating women’s achievements, being transparent about pay and offering equal opportunities for progression, our female recruiters can thrive.

In this blog, we provide background on International Women’s Day, with a focus on gender inequality in the workplace, and explore what it is like to work as a female recruiter at Give a Grad a Go.

What is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day is a day of celebration that commemorates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the globe.

International Women’s Day is also a call for action, used to bring attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights and ending violence against women.

Within the workforce, International Women’s Day highlights the ongoing struggle for gender parity, equal pay and maternity rights.

In the UK, women account for only 6% of FTSE 100 CEOs, with male CEOs earning 90% more than their female counterparts.

According to the ONS, this gender pay gap is felt by women at all levels, with the average female worker earning 7.9% less than their male peers.

The findings of the CIPD note that women are also more likely than men to report they have experienced both bullying (17% compared to 13%) and sexual harassment (7% compared to 2%) in the workplace.

Further, in sales accounts and business development related industries – such as recruitment – women earn 12.5% less than men.

With these statistics in mind, the need for International Women’s Day is obvious – gender equality, particularly in the workplace, is a goal that is yet to be achieved.

So, what is gender diversity like at Give a Grad a Go?

Do our recruiters feel empowered?

We speak to our female staff members, at various levels of seniority, about life as a female recruiter at Give a Grad a Go…

What is it like to be a woman new to recruitment?

Our newest starters have been working as Graduate Recruitment Consultants at Give a Grad a Go for the last few months.

We asked for their fresh perspective on life as a female recruiter:

What is it like to work as a woman in the recruitment industry?

“Empowering and supportive…[we’ve] enjoyed learning from watching women work hard and achieve successes. The sharing of experience and knowledge is so valuable to someone starting their career in recruitment and is inspiring.”

Have you faced any challenges as a woman in recruitment?

“Sometimes it feels as if candidates or clients don’t fully respect your authority and want to speak to the ‘man in charge’, which can be frustrating…However, when female colleagues have been dismissed when working with a client, there’s an immediate reaction from the Give a Grad a Go team on whether we want to work with that client anymore. Respect is paramount.”

How has Give a Grad a Go helped you to succeed as a female recruiter?

“Give a Grad a Go really puts an emphasis on everyone being equal, and everyone’s voice matters regardless of gender. I’ve never felt overlooked, and all my achievements have been acknowledged and commended…

The open plan office gives you exposure to all the incredible work being done by women in the company. There’s a huge emphasis on the company encouraging you to speak up when something isn’t going to plan, so that they can understand how best to support you.”

What would you say to women that are interested in recruitment but are worried about its ‘bro culture’ stereotype?

“It’s out of date! There is some way to go in terms of out-of-date stereotypes, but women in the workplace and especially here at GAGAGO are consistently showing that they are as competent, intelligent, ambitious, and capable as men in all capacities to do some very impressive work.”

What is it like to be a director-level woman in recruitment?

Isabel Brehcist is Give a Grad a Go’s Client Director, working as a recruiter for some of our largest clients.

We asked for her wisdom on life as a female recruiter:

What is it like to work as a woman in the recruitment industry?

“I think it really depends on which company you work for (like all jobs). However, I have been immensely supported in my career – at Give a Grad a Go, the leadership team is a 50/50 gender split, comprised of two female board members in their 20s! Many of my commercial inspirations are women in recruitment.”

Have you faced any challenges as a woman in recruitment?

“I wish I could say no, but sometimes I feel that I would have been taken more ‘seriously’ if I was a man. In my early 20s, I’d get really upset if someone cut me off but I now have the confidence to push back because I know my stuff and I know my voice matters.”

How has GAGAGO helped you to succeed as a female recruiter?

“In every way. Historically, our biggest billers have been female, which certainly bucks a trend in sales. I think a large part of that is due to our culture – if you’re positive and apply yourself you will succeed. There’s no ‘boys club’ or ‘banter’ where we work, just respect and hard work.”

What would you say to women that are interested in recruitment but are worried about its ‘bro culture’ stereotype?

“Listen, I totally get it! Sadly, there are agencies out there who still fall into that category. My top tip is to look for substance over style: What is their employee retention like? Are their women in meaningful leadership positions? What do their reviews say? Do they promote a culture of longevity for women? If you ask these sorts of questions, you’ll quickly find your answer.”

How has Give a Grad a Go fostered a gender diverse workplace?

Reflecting on the feedback from our most junior, and senior, female employees, Give a Grad a Go has succeeded in fostering an empowering work environment.

We speak to our People and Operations Director, Claire Donaldson, about how she has worked to create a gender diverse workplace:

“We recognise the importance of equality across our workforce and ensure that both males and females get the same support, recognition, and opportunities.

Recruitment may traditionally be seen as a male-heavy industry, however in our UK team, we currently have a split of 53% female & 47% male, with more females in both in our sales and marketing teams.

At our UK Director level, this is a 50% split for male/female and in our Australia team, our Country Manager is female.

We recognise that we can always do better (and are continually striving to) but some internal measures we have taken to achieve diversity at Give a Grad a Go include:

  • Ensuring we have standardised questions in our internal hiring process to ensure each candidate is being asked the same questions
  • Working with our marketing team to revise our job descriptions to ensure they attract a wide array of candidates
  • Constantly reviewing our own internal policies and benefits for staff for instance, enhanced maternity and paternity pay and hybrid working
  • Transparent progression plans and salary scales to ensure that across sales, marketing and operations, everyone who has the same job title/ same level of seniority (e.g. Digital Marketing Assistant or Account Manager) is on the same salary
  • Conducting Employee Engagement surveys to give employees a voice and ensuring they can share anonymous feedback on any areas of the business they feel need improving.

Our internal policies ensure our staff feel supported.

Whether this is under our equality and diversity policies, or policies around how to raise issues internally, we want to ensure everyone knows how they can speak out if any issue arises.

We have also recently updated our offerings by providing enhanced maternity and paternity packages to ensure our staff feel supported long-term and see recruitment as a career.”

How has Give a Grad a Go built a gender diverse recruitment ethos?

Whilst working to achieve gender diversity internally, it has also been pertinent that our commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion continues to be reflected externally in our placements with our clients (our 2021 stats show a 47% female & 53% male split across all industries).

This has been particularly pertinent in our encouragement of female talent within traditionally male industries.

For instance, whilst the industry expectation for gender split within law, tax and accountancy sits at around 45% female, our placed candidates were 67% female.

We also work hard to partner with clients that promote the same gender-forward values that we do – we are proud to have worked with the likes of The Female Lead on their recruitment drive.

In terms of the candidate side of things, Give a Grad a Go is committed to being an equal opportunity employer.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith, disability, or other.

We are continually finding ways to improve the way we work, so we have created a voluntary, anonymous Diversity & Inclusion survey for all new registrations.

The D&I survey enables us to can monitor our D&I across the database and gather data on key issues – we have had over 6,500 candidates take part in the survey so far!

We have also implemented initiatives such as anonymised shortlisting – we provide clients with anonymised candidate CVs so that they are unaware of the candidate’s gender before the shortlisting process.

This CV initiative has been a positive step forward in terms of reducing unconscious bias at CV selection stages, and we are constantly striving to develop additional initiatives to tackle challenges surrounding diversity in our recruitment services.

We are proud of our work towards gender equality, but we realise that there is certainly a lot more to be done to ensure diversity across the board (not just gender!) is achieved.

You can succeed as a female recruiter when working in a supportive, empowering environment!

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