At Phaidon International, we are passionate about nurturing the next generation of talent in our business. The majority of our current leadership started out at entry level with us, so we know that our youngest employees will be our leaders of tomorrow. Monthly, we host Tea and Talk, a series of panel discussions, workshops and informal drop-ins for our employees on the ground floor to learn directly from our more senior people.
On International Women's Day, we ran a special edition of Tea and Talk to engage our staff with all things #BalanceforBetter. Collectively, our panel have a wealth of experience from the recruitment industry. Cara, Clare, Dawn, Gail and Jack shared their personal challenges and experiences, how they think the industry has changed to be more gender balanced in recent years, and what we can all do to drive diversity and inclusion.
ZACH STAMP: Are there any women in the business you particularly look up to?
JACK TRUDEAU: So, there’s a girl in my team, Alyssa. She’s opened the Charlotte office. I’ve learned a lot from her because she’s always positive and she always goes the extra mile. She really cares about what she does and it was great for me to have someone like that in my team. As a manager, I could point to her as a role model for other people. She was a great right-hand woman. She was just really supportive and really good at what she did, she cared and it showed. It just made everything a lot easier for me.
ZACH STAMP: [gestures to the audience] Anyone else? What about you, Elliot?
ELLIOT PAYNE: I have one in the room, Dawn Hampton. I came from an industry in building and demolishing buildings. So, a very male-orientated environment. I found recruitment through my friends and I didn’t know anything about it. So, to come from that industry and coming to work for Dawn was a big shift. And as everyone knows, the first 12 months are really hard and I had many a conversation with my old man telling me to quit and that I should go back to building surveying. "It’s a career." "Get chartered." He'd say, you know. There were only five explosive men, so he said "You could be the next person. Think of the money in it." Through all that, Dawn just kept me going, saying "This is good!" "This is amazing, just look at what you can achieve!" So, I stuck it out and that’s why I am sitting here now. Yeah, so, my personal female role model, other than my mum and my nan – my personal, not just in the company, is Dawn.
GAIL BROWN: My business role model is from the first recruitment company I worked for. My friend opened up the doors for me. She used to be a recruiter, which is quite interesting. She was one of the founders of the company that used to be called Best People in the 90s. And it wasn’t about her being an inspiration because of her position or that she was a managing director and the owner and set up a company with three other boys – it was just her aura. She had such a positive outlook in life and every time you were around her, you almost got dragged into that. So, when I think back on the people who have inspired me, even today, she’s the person. I talk to her whenever I can. When I left Adecco because my team and myself were made redundant, she was the first person I contacted. Just to have a chat to and kind of get ideas from her because she had such an impact on myself right from the start.
ZACH STAMP: What’s really interesting for me... obviously, I looked at the questions before we got started and I was thinking about this. There are so many different examples, it’s hard to highlight and point out a single person. But if I think about the people – and I’ll keep it close to home in terms of Phaidon – if I think about the women in this business that inspire me or that I could not do my job without, there are so many of you actually sat in this room today. And I won’t go through everybody but you know, I couldn’t do what I do without Bethan Williams. I think it’s fair to say that you [gestures to Elliot Payne] couldn’t do what you do without Izzy and MJ. If I look around, everybody, the next generation is coming through. The mentors that we have in our business! HR, what an emerging and growing part of our business these days. Elisabeth and Lakshna from Compliance translating everything and sorting out our deals. And everybody, Marketing, Sales, across the board – we could not operate as a business without the people that are here and that’s very important to understand. Everybody has such a critical part to play here at Phaidon International, male or female.
Jack Trudeau and Gail Brown laugh
ZACH STAMP: Moving onto the next question, how different is the recruitment industry today for a woman than when you first started your career?
GAIL BROWN: I’ve never sat on the sales side of recruitment. I've always been in operations and as I’ve said earlier, from my 18 years, I don’t ever remember in the operational side a very clear male-dominated area verses female, so I don’t know if it was different, I’m sure it was different. I do have to say from when I first started in the early 2000s, I don’t remember seeing many women in the sales side of the business. It was never a very male-dominated or female-dominated side in the operational area, I think it was quite an even split but if I think if I remember back then it definitely was more male.
CLARE COOPER: I think more than anything, in the 10 years I’ve been here at Phaidon International, I think the same. I think it is better now obviously, there are loads more women. I think the biggest change is the change in general within the recruitment industry. Certainly, when we first started, it was a bit like the wild wild west. Being in recruitment had such a bad reputation. I think a lot of our competitors were just complete boy's clubs and I think the industry as a whole back 10, 15 years ago wasn’t as professional as it is now. So, I think they’re the biggest changes and I think probably now the industry is more welcoming to females. Let’s face it, I think back then it was probably a bit more boisterous than it is now so that’s the biggest change.
DAWN HAMPTON: I’m laughing because it was brutal. I mean the reality is, 18 years ago it was brutal. I could not wear flat shoes. I had to change my shoes outside the office, not even in the lift because if I got caught changing my shoes into stilettos in the lift, I would have got mugged off just for that. So, I spent most of my evenings, if we went out, in strip clubs and lap dancing bars because that’s where we went, that’s what all the boys wanted to do. This was a long time ago and obviously the world is very different now and things have luckily changed quite dramatically but it was. I was the only girl in an office of 50 blokes at one point. When they rang the bell, they would get all excited like we do now. If I did, it was like silence from all the men. It was literally silence. So, the only way I could deal with that was to absolutely smash them to bits and beat them all until they had to respect me, then they liked me, then they loved me, then they became my best friends. But that was the way to do it, just to be better than all of them which probably spurred me on quite dramatically. It was brutal but it is not like that now. Things are very different, much better, and it was probably a bit brutal for the men as well, you know. If they came in with a little bit of stubble, they were sent down the road to get a razor and they had to make sure they were wearing their ties all the way up.