1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your role and how you got there?

My current role is Group Sales Director for Gi Group. My career spans 32 years, and  I worked my way up – starting as a Trainee Recruitment Consultant, before moving into Operations and then into Sales. My first full sales role was in 2007, when I moved into a National Sales Manager position with Manpower, where I spent over 11 years of my career. I have three children, the youngest of whom is now 19 years old, and I had to navigate my career around some of the challenges brought on by childcare, which at the start of my career looked nothing like it does today – no free nursery places for my oldest two!

 

  1. Did you encounter any biases in your career because of your gender?

The biggest challenges I’ve faced around my gender were due to the fact that I had a family, and a reticence on the part of employers to recognise that I could hold a senior role with three children. I’ve also encountered misogynistic attitudes around the abilities of women. Thankfully we live, for the most part, in a very different business world today.

 

  1. How did you motivate yourself to keep going in the face of these challenges?

This type of attitude did and still does make me even more determined to be a success. I firmly believe in allowing your results to speak for themselves – you cannot argue with results.

 

  1. What advice would you give to other female talent looking to succeed in a role/career like yours?

Don’t let anybody tell you that you’ll never make it, that you’ll never be as good as your counterparts, that your decision to have children will affect your career progression. On the contrary, those life experiences make us stronger. Be strong, be determined and NEVER give up.

 

  1. What advice would you give to companies to help them create an environment where women can thrive?

Equality, diversity and inclusion is a big topic for many organisations. We need to  fully recognise the importance of a team that is reflective of our society and your customers in terms of diversity and diversity of ideas. We also need to acknowledge that women are strong and are capable of a lot and create environments where they can flourish. Women still for the most part assume responsibility for childcare, or looking after elderly family members. We need more progressive companies, and just as female talent needs to be supported and nurtured, we also need to empower men to feel comfortable to take on more of these shared responsibilities without being or feeling judged.

 

  1. How has your organisation helped you to flourish in your career?

Gi Group has always been committed to gender equality and I’m fortunate to have worked for leaders who have recognised my abilities and capabilities based on my performance alone. Trust is a key value for me and I am given the flexibility and autonomy to motivate and manage my team in a way that gets the best out of them and am only ever judged on the results we deliver.

 

  1. With news that the number of women in FTSE 100 boardroom roles has jumped to 39.1% from 12.5% 10 years ago, how do you envision the future world of work for women?

It shows that women can and will continue to make an even stronger and valuable contribution to business, and help shape opportunities for all.

 

  1. What do you think male colleagues can do to help eliminate gender bias and support women in the workplace?

Make your judgements based on individual behaviours and performance, not on pre-conceived ideas or biases based on gender. Embrace equality, and promote a flexible and inclusive workplace for all. Whilst it is positive to see more businesses acknowledge that women have different needs because of biological differences, and that women are feeling more comfortable discussing previously taboo topics such as menopause in the workplace, it remains an ongoing journey and more needs to be done. Education, training and creating an open culture where such topics can be discussed and people feel supported is so important to breaking down any gender biases.

 

  1. What advice would you give your younger self or another woman at the start of her career journey?

Find an employer who truly acknowledges inclusion and diversity. Break down barriers. Just because there ‘are not many women’ in a profession or industry does not mean that there won’t be going forward. Be strong, and if you encounter biases break them down by demonstrating with your actions why those biases have no basis.

 

  1. Do you believe we will reach true gender parity in our lifetime?

Unfortunately, I don’t. I think we have a long way to go still. Even thinking about my own upbringing and behaviours that were acceptable in years gone by which are totally unacceptable now, means that there will always be those who refuse to accept the here and now and will, on account of their conditioning and life experiences as a human being revert back to ideas formed in a time gone by.

 

  1. What 3 words would you use to describe female leaders in your organisation or industry?

Inspirational, determined, Incredible.