Women & the Path to Staffing’s Highest Ranks: A New Series

ThinkstockPhotos-119547857In the staffing industry, we know what a powerful — and often majority role — women have long played in recruitment, staffing and HR. So, why are we as an industry — one dedicated to getting people in the right jobs — struggling to help women advance into our own leadership roles?

Just take a look within the staffing industry at the boards of the 27 North America-based public staffing firms included in Staffing Industry Analysts’ Q3 2014 financial results report:

  • Well over one-third (39%) of those 27 public staffing firms have no women listed on their executive boards as of their most recent Definitive Proxy
  • On average, women make up only 6% of board seats at those public staffing firms

When I joined the staffing industry 10 years ago, what I didn’t immediately notice was that gender balance didn’t reach the executive suites — a fact we know to be true for all industries and nations.

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Despite the fact that women represent a majority (51%) of those in professional and technical occupations, women are poorly represented in leadership across industries of all size and manner.

Putting the lack of women in leadership into ironic perspective, EY, the global organization for Ernst & Young, noted “only 16% of S&P 1500 board seats are held by women – less than the proportion of seats held by directors named John, Robert, James and William.”

Over the next several months, this is the question we are going to focus on in a series of blogs. I will dive into the challenges and opportunities facing women who aspire to reach staffing’s highest ranks. We will examine where progress is being made and the pioneers who are making it, including exploring the efforts of industry leaders that have carved out national and global programs to promote women leadership. We will discuss some of the issues that may be contributing to the glacial progress of gender diversity, such as:

  • The Confidence Question – How are women professionals gaining the confidence needed to succeed in the boardroom?
  • Sponsorship & Promotion – How are female and male staffing leaders helping to sponsor, mentor and promote women professionals as they make the climb up the executive ranks?
  • Flexibility & Family Support – How can businesses ease the choices women have to make between family and work?

I will start next week with a post on the confidence question, exploring whether your organization is giving women the confidence to lead and share an example of how one leading firm is helping to address this question by creating a community for women to exchange ideas and dialogue.

MORE: How corporate culture solidifies gender inequality

Leah McKelvey

Leah McKelvey
Leah McKelvey is regional VP, enterprise EMEA at Bullhorn. She can be reached at leah (dot) mckelvey (at) bullhorn (dot) com.

Leah McKelvey

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