Why the Recruitment Profession Must Lead on Gender Equality in the Workplace

With International Women’s Day over for another year, I wanted to take a moment after the event to reflect on the continued progress that women have made toward equality – and also recognize how far there is left to go. Unfortunately, despite steady progress – there’s still a lot that needs to be done until men and women achieve parity in the workplace.  In fact, according to the Fawcett Society, which lobbies for women’s rights, it could be another 100 years before the gender pay gap is eradicated. If we only dedicate one day a year to driving this change, it’s no wonder that equality is a century away.

What can recruitment do?

So, what can the recruitment profession do to help balance out this shocking disparity? There is no doubt that, as a sector that has such a large impact on the wider workforce, we have a responsibility to lead by example when it comes to female talent. Therefore, firstly, we must address the problems within our own sector.

Women in Recruitment (WIR) was formed to give all recruitment firms practical support in attracting, developing and retaining female talent and to provide a tangible demonstration of a commitment to gender equality to clients and candidates.

With previous research from APSCo revealing that females account for just 25% of board level employees – and that just 31% of companies have initiatives in place to retain women –there’s certainly a lot of work left to do.

However, these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Separate research from Women in Recruitment and Westminster Business School found that 66% of females working in recruitment believe that family and caring responsibilities can negatively impact on career prospects, along with a lack of confidence (40%) and an ‘old boy’ network-style atmosphere (41%).

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A beacon of excellence

Ultimately, it’s clear that we have a responsibility to establish the recruitment profession as a ‘beacon of excellence’ for gender equality, so that we can disseminate best practice throughout the wider workforce. If we are to work with our clients to boost gender equality, we must practice what we preach.

This calls for innovative approaches and bold actions. That’s why, in an attempt to better understand gender disparity across the profession, Women in Recruitment is launching a comprehensive examination of the sector and its approaches to female talent, allowing firms to benchmark their strategies against the overall market.

The survey, the first of its kind, will enable companies to challenge and rethink long-standing assumptions, practices, re-align out-of-date strategies and identify opportunities for change. To improve equality, measuring progress is critical, and by benchmarking success against their contemporaries, recruitment firms can play a large role in driving change throughout their own industry – and the wider workforce.

Take part in the survey here.

Ann Swain

Ann Swain
Ann Swain is global CEO of APSCo, an international trade body representing the professional recruitment sector in the UK, Germany, Singapore and Australia.

Ann Swain

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