International Women’s Day 2022 – #breakthebias

by Zoe

Ruth joined Communicate in 2020 and she now enters her 7th year in recruitment which coincides with her recent promotion to Manager for our Interim Desk. We sat down to discuss International Women’s Day and her career thus far.

Did you always see yourself joining this industry?
No.  Admittedly I wasn’t fully aware what recruitment was until I went to register with a recruiter. However, as soon as I started in the role, I very quickly fell in love with the pace, dealing with people and working to targets. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now.

This year’s IWD is focused on #breakthebias. As a recruitment company we are uniquely positioned to have an impact over who gets hired. How do you ensure equality in the candidates presented to clients?
I have previously taken training courses on unconscious biases and was interested to learn about the Harvard Project Implicit experiment. I think it’s important to be able to recognise your own biases in order to combat them.
It’s vital in our role to not make assumptions. I am a huge champion of picking up the phone and covering any questions I may have. For example, any gaps in between roles or where specific experience may be required for the role. You would be surprised, or not, how many people leave off information they think is obvious.
People are far more than a piece of paper and a CV can only tell you so much.  In recruitment agencies, we have a brilliant upper hand of being able to call and get to know all suitable applicants.

Have you found recruitment to be a male dominated industry or faced any career barriers due to being a woman?
I have always found the recruitment industry to be very equally split. Furthermore, because we are largely incentivised by commission, the gender pay gap is also not an issue.
At Communicate we have an almost exact 50/50 split which has occurred naturally.

Do you think that IWD is still relevant today?
Of course, I think that there is still work to be done. Women typically carry out more of the unpaid work, like being the main caregiver, cooking, cleaning etc.
In my time in recruitment I have seen an increase in recruiting paternity leave cover, which has been a really exciting change in legislation of late. Another positive of COVID-19 has been the drastic increase in hybrid working, which also supports those carrying out “unpaid work”.

Is this a concern within your career?
Yes and no, Recruitment is super entrepreneurial and it’s a real perk of the job to have so much autonomy over your career development and earnings. As a result, you’re trusted to deliver on what you need to do to get the job done. I believe this lends itself well to flexible working and a lot of my work can fall outside “core hours”.
It’s adaptable and reactive, which means that it’s an industry that can easily fit around a busy family life.

Who do you feel is responsible for taking action to solve these issues?
I think it lies mainly at a business level. The last two years have shown that we are all incredibly adaptable and working from home is becoming the norm for many. Therefore, I hope that this has opened doors for managers, and businesses in general, to become more supportive of women who require flexible working set ups.
I have noticed a significant increase in clients offering hybrid or remote positions which were previously almost unheard off.

Is there any advice you would give to young women thinking about their careers?
I remember reading a statistic that women won’t apply for roles unless they think they meet 100% of the criteria specified.
I know that when I applied for the role at Communicate, I was concerned about my lack of direct finance experience and worried that I would be essentially starting again. However, Communicate recognised my transferable skills and trained me to fill the gaps in my knowledge. After just 18 months with the company I have been promoted to Manager of the Interim Desk.

My advice would be to take a leap. Just go for it and believe in yourself. No one else is going to be cheering you on from the side-lines so you have to be your own cheerleader and go for what you want.