• 8th March 2019

Stride – International Women’s Day

What better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than by recognising key contributions made by the women in Stride.

It would be easy to say that we have made a conscious effort to #balanceforbetter but quite simply we haven’t needed to. Across our team of 26 we have a 50/50 split of men and women; is this by accident or by design? Well as it happens, it’s neither. We have a gender-balanced workforce quite simply because when we have a vacancy, we interview and employ the very best person available for the job; the individual with the best skills, highest level of drive and greatest communication skills.

 

Sales-based industries, such as recruitment, have had a long-standing reputation of being male dominated but of our most successful performers, two of the top three in 2018 were female. Of those who were identified and placed on our 2019 next generation management training, 57% are female. 11 of the 15 promotions in our team were achieved by women. This is not about equal opportunities or box ticking; this is about being a business who recognises, attracts, develops and rewards its best talent.

Stride recruits for the Construction industry and is proud to be bucking the trend with a diverse, highly-skilled team working for us in 2019. In our workforce, women add huge value to both the growth of our business and that of our clients. Equality comes naturally and a lack of sexual bias is benefitting all in terms of employee engagement, employee development, staff retention and revenue generation.

We’re proud to celebrate International Women’s Day, and we’re grateful to have a team of so many talented women.

Here are a few of our success stories:

Charlie Hall – Lead Recruitment Consultant – Health and Safety

Charlie has been with the business for 5 years, recruiting for Construction’s Health and Safety sector. She was Stride’s highest performing Consultant in 2018 with her best ever year and due to her performance, ambition and attitudes, she moved on to one of our management development plans.

Stride: What makes a great woman?

Charlie: Being strong! First and foremost, to be a great woman you must have the confidence and conviction to trust your own opinions, judgement and skillsets. To stand up for yourself and what you believe in. You will be independent and ambitious, seek to be a positive role model to other females and show the men just how great us women are! We have the opportunity now more than ever to show that we can do just as good a job as a man in all industries.

Stride: What is your greatest achievement?

Charlie: In work, definitely my performance over 2018. It was a great year for me professionally and I felt like the hard work and determination of my time in the business was really paying off. To be the top billing Consultant within a team as talented as ours here at Stride, is something I will always be proud of. Outside of work, buying my house was a great day of course, but above all I love to travel, as anyone here at Stride will tell you! This job has given me the capability to travel across the world, to 38 countries (so far), including Australia, Bali, Thailand, Fiji, Mexico and the USA.

Stride: Who is your female inspiration?

Charlie: Sounds cheesy I know but it’s true so I’ll say it; my mum! My mum showed me and my sisters the value of hard work.  She made clear as we grew up that to achieve something, you have to give it your all. I believe that I inherited her work ethic and it’s something I’m really proud of.

Stride:  How is the Health and Safety industry evolving when it comes to gender equality?

Charlie:  As you’d expect, Construction is very male dominated. We are seeing more young females coming into the industry but the opportunities for them don’t feel as prevalent as those for men. Feedback I have received from clients is that they do not believe a female can make site staff listen to them. Quite clearly this is wrong, and it will take time to change the values and opinions of those who have engrained these views over many years, but it is something that I, recruiting for the industry, and the women that have come into the industry, will work hard to do. Will there ever be complete equality in construction? In all honesty, I don’t know, but I know that we’ll work damn hard to make sure there is!

Stride: What do you enjoy about recruiting for Health and Safety?

Charlie: ‘Health and Safety’, often a term derided or belittled, but it’s one of vital importance. I love the passion I hear from many of the candidates I work with. They know the value they add to the Construction sector in saving lives. If you compare the levels of injury and death on construction sites now to 10-20 years ago, it has dropped considerably, and this is despite projects becoming more demanding, more challenging and often completed at a much quicker pace. This has a lot to do with the candidates I recruit for and this is something I find incredibly rewarding.

Stride: How do you see the future for women in business?

Charlie: Bright! In business, there are more opportunities than ever for women. We have more and more great role models out there and attitudes are changing. As the young people of today move into senior management roles, I don’t believe there will be a vision of a man or woman doing a job – it will be about the quality of the individual doing it. Women are now more ambitious than ever, having families later and wanting to contribute as much, if not more to the finances of their family than ever before. Men’s changing perspectives are playing a key part in this as well. Men are now more engaged than ever with active parenting and supporting the careers of their partners. It’s a great time to be a woman!

 

Charlotte Northam – Lead Recruitment Consultant – US Architecture 

Charlotte started at Stride as a Trainee Recruitment Consultant in April 2016. She quickly excelled at developing our contract Architecture desk, and became one of our top performing Consultants not just in Stride, but across all of STR Group’s brands. Charlotte achieved promotions through 4 levels over her first 2 years in the business. She then started mentoring Junior Consultants as part of her progression to Operations Manager, before moving away from recruiting for the London market to head up our New York team.

Stride: What is your view on International Women’s day?

Charlotte: International Women’s Day communicates an empowering message for all females; that we, as women, can and should receive equal opportunities and recognition for our skills, not just our heels!  Women before us have worked and fought hard to enable us to have the opportunities we have today but there is so much more that we can do. It’s our time!

Stride: This year’s International Women’s day campaign theme is #balanceforbetter. How do you see Stride demonstrating these values?

Charlotte: It’s great that Stride is seeing this balance applied so naturally. More women than ever are being promoted across the company and are being given opportunities to progress. 2018 was a particularly good year for us ladies, with a significant number of promotions deservedly awarded! I have seen first-hand that I will receive the same level of opportunity as my male counterparts and be judged on my results and work ethic, which is absolutely how things should be.

Stride: What is your proudest moment in a work environment?

Charlotte: I’ll be honest, I need to think about this one. (Cue pause…). I have been fortunate enough to be the highest performer in the brand, be recognised with promotions and have the chance to move towards management levels. But above all, I believe it is the trust the business showed in me when I said I wanted to start up our New York City Architectural desk. Starting something new is really difficult and it was a real risk to the business, so I really appreciated the support and trust they gave me. I’ve also been put on a personal development plan to become an Operations Manager, which is presently on track for my promotion in June 2019. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Stride: What challenges have you faced being a female recruiting for the Architectural market, which can be quite male dominated at leadership level?

Charlotte: There is a danger that sometimes as females we are not taken as seriously as males. I recall one client meeting I attended, I had what seemed to be a productive meeting with a client, concluded everything, went to shake the male client’s hand at the end of the meeting and he went for a kiss on the cheek. I’m confident that he would not have done this in the same environment with a male. It’s a small thing in the grand scheme of things but does show that there is still some work to be done to achieve true equality.

Stride:  Which female would you see as the business leader you admire the most?

Charlotte: I’d say Katie Piper. For those unfamiliar, Katie Piper is a former model. In 2008, she was attacked by a former boyfriend who threw acid in her face, causing significant injuries. Katie used her terrible experience as an inspiration to do better things, including setting up the Katie Piper Foundation; a charity with the objective of showing people that scars do not limit a person’s function, social inclusion or sense of well-being – not too dissimilar to the overall objectives of International Women’s Day. Katie has fought to help young women to recognise that they do not need to aspire to be Instagram influencers to be successful, or to be judged on their appearance, but that their minds are what makes them successful and what they can do with it.

Stride: How is the Architectural industry performing with gender equality?

Charlotte: Sadly, the Architecture industry could do a lot better than it is. It is a very male orientated industry across senior leadership levels. When there are female leaders, there is often a big deal made, but by now, this should be the norm. This week, I read articles about employers in the London Architectural market forcing employees to opt-out of the Working Time Directive as a condition of employment. This is clearly an illegal act but one that also prohibits women who are still often the main care provider for children and therefore require reasonable hours for childcare reasons, etc. The lack of flexible working in the industry is also a considerable issue for women as invariably it is them who will be the most frequent users of flexible working, particularly upon return from maternity leave. There does seem to be lots of talk but little action.

Stride: What career development and recognition have you received at Stride?

Charlotte: I’m currently undertaking a company sponsored CMI Level 5 course in Operations Management which I’m really enjoying. It helps me feel as though I am valued, bettering myself and developing the tools to be a better manager for my team and the Stride business, so a winner all round. On top of this, I have received a lot of internal coaching and training, as well as being trusted to recruit and manage my own staff, which has been fantastic.

I’m pleased to say that recognition is something that is never in short supply here. I’ve been promoted several times, received several pay rises and have been put in a position where I was able to buy my first house last year.

Stride: Do you feel like you can achieve your long-term career goals at Stride?

Charlotte:  Absolutely! I can imagine no better place to do so. Recruitment and Architecture are globally valued services which I have the skillset and experience to develop, as well as increasing the presence of Stride’s services across the English-speaking nations of the world. Stride’s business goals and my vast ambitions go hand in hand and it feels like the perfect fit for all.

 

Olivia Hands – Senior Recruitment Consultant – Interior Design

Olivia has been with Stride for 13 months. She joined in early 2018 to spearhead our growth in London’s Interior Design markets. Since Olivia joined Stride, she has gone above and beyond, achieving outstanding revenue figures almost immediately, whilst breaking company records in the process. Olivia joined as a Junior Recruitment Consultant and achieved her promotion through 3 performance grades in a 6 month period, achieving Senior Recruitment Consultant within her first 11 months.

Stride: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Olivia: I find International Women’s Day both inspirational and empowering. In today’s confused world, with so many mixed messages for men and women of all ages, it’s refreshing to hear such positivity backed up by a network of events celebrating women on a global scale.

Stride: What is your proudest moment in a work environment?

Olivia: Well, my first year at Stride could not have gone any better to be honest. Being promoted not once or twice, but three times was beyond my wildest dreams, particularly at 22 years of age. I am now recruiting for a market (Interior Design) that Stride previously didn’t have a significant presence in. I’m now able to honestly say that I have helped create one of Stride’s highly performing business areas. I have built some fantastic working relationships along the way. I’m treated as a partner when providing recruitment services to my clients. The successful year I have just had has put me in a position to buy my dream car and purchase my first buy-to-let property, enabling me to take steps towards my long-term goals.

Stride: How is the Interior Design market performing when it comes to gender equality?

Olivia: In all honesty, Interior Design is a fairly unique case as it is so female orientated, which makes it even more satisfying for me to recruit for. There are a significant number of high-powered female leaders in the industry ­– owning their own design studios with their name featuring the practice’s name; celebrating them as the figurehead of the brand and its design standards.

Stride: Have you found any negative aspects to being a female and working in recruitment?

Olivia: I’m very fortunate recruiting for the Interior Design market, as women in the industry are well respected and already receive recognition. Prior to joining Stride, I did work for an alternative recruitment company, recruiting for roles in the Water sector. That was something which was more challenging when it came to receiving respect from candidates and clients. This was possibly due to my age, possibly due to my gender, or perhaps a mix of both. I do see advantages of being a female working in this industry as I believe it helps me develop a rapport with my candidates and clients.

Stride: You’ve had a great first year. What recognition have you received? Moving forward, what are your mid-term career ambitions?

Olivia: Well it’s been a real whirlwind for recognition. I’ve been fortunate enough to be recognised for my performance with multiple promotions, which have significantly enhanced my salary and benefits package. I have won awards for ‘highest percentage over target achieved in 2018’. The culture of awards and recognition we have here is great. I’ve been lucky enough to win many non-monetary items, including meals out, days off, bottles of gin, prosecco, cases of Peroni (perfect as a pass-on gift for the boyfriend), and many more. I’m really happy with how things are going this year and I am concentrating on having another high-performing year. Longer-term, I’d see myself moving into management, mentoring and helping build Stride’s Interior Design offerings in the global market.

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