It’s International Women’s Day.
Cue the stock images of happy, smiley women with (really) good teeth, the boomeranged prosecco toasts, the posts about equality and empowerment in recruitment that are currently inundating our Linkedin feeds.
But what happens when the clock strikes midnight? I’m not a cynical person (not all the time anyway), but we all know the answer. The praise for the trailblazing women, specifically within our sector, disappears from centre-stage, social media’s white noise. The men in pressed suits take their place at the top yet again, and the women who spent the day before being built up succumb to 364 days of being in the background of Insta posts celebrating billings and milestones, of ignoring the lad banter they apparently aren’t laddy enough to be a part of, of being told to wear makeup and heels to be taken seriously.
(And god forbid a woman decides to match the behaviour their male co-workers can pass off as business talk, because aren’t they dominating/intimidating/inhuman/rude/other (take your pick)?)
The recruitment industry in general opens its eyes for about 24 hours in a year, and then seems to ignore the idea that women can be who we want to be outside that short window of time. It doesn’t really understand women have the ability to succeed and thrive without being the opposite gender.
It’s forgotten that women are the innovation that is the very heart of recruitment. The vote, gender discrimination laws, the right to have a thriving social life, the right to be themselves – all of this, and more, has been achieved by refusing to conform.
They are the change that matches our industry’s incredibly rapid turnover; they are the undeniable progression that agencies offers to their partnerships at all levels; they are the revolution behind the effort that ensures recruitment is dominating the planet.
Empathy, persistence and drive are conditioned within them from the get go. They were practising these qualities and more way before they were given the right to work. Surely that gives them just as fair a chance of being top biller as it does anyone else?
What holds them back and burns them out? The attitudes of old. Women are so aware of their stance in recruitment, that the classic ‘All Boys Club’ vibe ensures 41% of women in a Westminster Business School study said it severely affected career prospects, with a massive (but not shocking) 77% of the UK’s recruitment board positions held by men.
Let’s get personal: one of the first conversations I had with the Orama co-founders was about women in recruitment. I’ve seen and heard (and sometimes, even been involved in) the grizzly tales of borderline mistreatment, and I’ve seen and heard (and definitely been involved in) situations that remind you through gritted teeth of my stance as a female in our sector. To hear the words ‘women are just as good as men at recruiter, even better at it at times’ was almost a relief. ‘Finally,’ I thought, ‘people who actually get it’.
And that’s how we function in our office. Women aren’t elevated for a single work day in a year only to be forgotten the rest of the time – here, it genuinely doesn’t matter who you are as long as you work hard, hit your targets and respect everyone around you.
Orama Solutions preaches inclusivity. Then, after preaching inclusivity, we effortlessly make it happen. And to feel like we belong, rather than awkwardly feeling like we’re in some superior or inferior No Man’s Land, is a godsend for a woman.
Where are all the women?
We’re here. We’re here, and we’re willing to do what it takes.
All you have to do is look.
(But not too intensely.)