Julie Selby, Director of Women in Recruitment, on how mentoring is developing women in recruitment
As recruiters, we have a responsibility to establish the profession as a ‘beacon of excellence’ for gender equality and to set an example to the sectors and businesses we partner with. However, before we set out to help others, it’s important that we look at our own industry and address the inequalities that exist, while also taking action to ensure that our firms are truly diverse, inclusive and supporting each individual to reach their full potential.
The lack of women at board level in recruitment firms
Unfortunately, while there has been improvement in creating more awareness on the need for equal opportunities amongst men and women in recent years, there is still a significant amount of work left to do until true parity is reached. A recent survey conducted by Women in Recruitment revealed that almost a third (30%) of recruitment firms have less than 5% female leaders at board level and another third (32%), only have between 21-50%.
So, how can we support more women climb the ladder and enter leadership roles? While there are a number of initiatives that can help attract, retain and support women such as family friendly policies, flexible hours and enhanced maternity benefits, mentoring is in fact one of the most powerful tools that can help all women, regardless of which stage they are at in their life or career.
What is mentoring?
Mentoring is most often defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced person assists another individual in developing skills and knowledge that will enhance them in their professional and personal growth. There’s more to mentoring than giving advice, it’s about motivating and empowering the other person to understand themselves and their goals, and importantly, how they get there. Through sharing expert advice and experiences, women will be more equipped to take on the challenges that arise in their professional career and more knowledgeable on how to take control of their development.
Mentoring has mutual benefits
It’s not just the mentee that benefits from the professional relationship. Mentoring is a proven approach to driving learning and development in both the individuals involved. The two-way process means both parties can successfully progress and develop new skills through collaboration. While the mentee has the opportunity to learn new abilities, receive guidance, motivation, emotional support and a role model, the mentor can also improve their capabilities and advance in their career.
An opportunity for all in the recruitment industry
We understand the power of mentoring and value how it can positively impact an individual. That’s why Women in Recruitment, the APSCo initiative supported by a range of stakeholders in the recruitment sector, has partnered with The Recruitment Network to offer a free online mentoring programme specifically for members of both networks. The programme enables female mentees in the recruitment profession to access experienced mentors (male or female), allowing them to build their confidence and develop their skills through consistent support, guidance and practical help.
This newly developed programme has been launched online initially so that we can facilitate mentoring throughout the COVID-19 crisis – but meetings can take place face to face once circumstances allow. Mentoring relationships will continue for a pre-agreed length of time and planned sessions will be structured in line with the GROW model, focusing on the mentee’s goals, reality, options and way forward. The mentee will then be encouraged to design an action plan with SMART objectives which will enable them to fulfil their career aspirations.
Paula Mitchell, founder of The Condor Collective, who mentors through the programme, said:
“It’s great to have the opportunity to help other women in the recruitment sector reach their full potential. I’m conscious that the recruitment environment can be quite macho and masculine and often many women feel that they need to conform to masculine stereotypes. I wanted to help change this attitude and ensure there was a higher prevalence of female role models in the industry. In talent acquisition, there is a significant drop off rate amongst females as they develop in their career, and as a woman who has two kids and has been in the industry for over 20 years, I wanted to show others that it is possible to balance family life and be successful in recruitment.”
“Plus, I’m a big believer of having external influences in your career to avoid things becoming homogenous, and it’s so fulfilling knowing that I can help offer others clarity in times of need and provide structure to help people work through their challenges and goals.”
Commenting on the power of mentoring and the collaboration between Women in Recruitment and The Recruitment Network to provide a dedicated programme for females in the industry, Gordon Stoddart, Founding Director of TRN said:
“Considering the growing fight for talent in our industry and the increased emphasis on diversity within our businesses, The Recruitment Network is committed to looking at how the recruitment industry currently attracts, retains, and treats their female talent. That’s why I’m pleased to have partnered with Women in Recruitment to provide a practical programme which can have a real impact on women’s careers and the wider recruitment industry.”
“We started this scheme because we have observed that there is a disproportionate number of males in leadership roles and wanted to ensure that we are helping to address that imbalance. Diversity at board level is not only the right thing to do, it also makes complete business sense and with the help of mentoring, hopefully we will see more women guided into C-suite positions, allowing for great diversity in thought and innovation within businesses.”
While achieving true parity within the recruitment industry won’t happen overnight, the benefits from mentoring can start after the very first session. Well-structured and insightful conversations with an end goal in mind can help give individuals the confidence and knowledge needed to start taking steps in the right direction. Hopefully, this scheme, along with the sector’s increased awareness of diversity issues will mean we will see more women thriving.