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Tea and Talk: How can we #BalanceforBetter to drive women more into senior roles?

Date: 20 March 2019

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.

A great one for the panel! How do you balance your professional or personal obligations, particularly as a parent or as a carer? Dawn, perhaps you'd like to speak as a parent?

DAWN HAMPTON: Loads and loads of military organisation basically. I spend a lot of time, until 10 o’clock at night getting everything ready for the next day. But mostly having the flexibility at work. I am very fortunate I have been able to do that here. I’ve got a very supportive husband; I think it’s because I earn more money than he does so he’s really supportive. [audience laughs] To be fair, he is, and his job is very stressful – particularly at the moment. He's a police offer in London, and he’s not really sleeping at night. It can be quite tricky because we have to juggle a lot of stuff, but we make it work. Because he works on a shift pattern, that works brilliantly for us because that means he is home some days in the week, so it means that I don’t have to put my girls in full time child care. I feel like it’s a really positive thing for me. I just worked very hard for a long time so that when I had children, I was in the position to be financially more flexible. So, I already had got myself into a position where I was able to be more flexible in terms of not working full time, having savings for maternity leave, just all sorts of things like that. Just loads of organisation and a really good support system. So, our parents try to help out. My husband’s parents come from Birmingham just to babysit two days every five weeks. So yeah, a really good support network, really good flexibility at work, very fortunate to have that. It means that I can actually see my girls, spend time with them and bring them up how I want to, as opposed to someone else doing that for me. And they love that mummy goes to work and I think they will be really proud of me in the future – to have a mum that has carried on doing that. And I think it also keeps me sane because I can go to the toilet by myself, I can drink a cup of tea by myself when I am at work. So, I think it is healthy for everybody.  

ZACH STAMP: What’s really interesting, and Dawn has made it very clear herself, that people often go into recruitment purely for financial reasons. I know a lot of people who do that. I certainly was one of those when I started, but I think we see that generally that does change. The one thing that I will highlight for Phaidon International particularly is that the financial rewards you get just buys freedom and I think that’s what you have experienced [gesturing to Dawn] and being able to afford to have great child care and stuff when you are working, you have the freedom to do what you want. 


GAIL BROWN: I think that links to the next question, about how we can increase female representation in recruitment?

 There's one thing that I have always found useful. When I was in the states, I guess I was the most senior female in that office, I used to network quite a lot and reach out to other people in different industries. You’d be surprised the amount of people that are just happy to meet and have a chat. I’d go to a lot of events and networking things. Again, I think it’s great that we all talk to each other and help each other and get ideas from each other but also there are a lot of ideas you can take from people such as your friends. Like some of my friends work in completely different industries, one is a barrister, another works in the music industry but it’s the same kind of conversations that they are having and the same kind of themes so make sure you don’t just look internally to talk to people and get ideas in different ways for different situations because you can also get loads of ideas from women in different fields.

ZACH STAMP: The only barrier at Phaidon International in place of training is people’s belief and desire to go on and do bigger and better things. We are of course a meritocracy so get your numbers done, you can do it. Where are the next wave of managers coming through, where’s the next person that wants to go and build out their business, go and build out their team. There’s a lot of opportunities. Talk to your sales leaders, talk to your directors. Do not hold back on that because Phaidon always provides when there are good opportunities and when there are good committed people that actually want to grab a hold of something and build something. It is exactly what the business is about. You just have to be brave enough and bold enough to have a great idea and go push that through.

CARA MYERS: I think that’s a good point. I think we are lucky to work in business where the opportunity to progress is quite obvious and everyone has the same targets. So many of you guys and so many people we interview are looking to leave other industries and move into recruitment because it is a meritocracy so I think we are really lucky to work in a business that offers that and we should take advantage of that.

JACK TRUDEAU: Definitely looking at other industries, I’ve been really impressed with how women overcome those obstacles. There’s a lady called Stacey Cunningham who I’d view as role model, actually, and she started as a clerk at the New York stock exchange. I think it’s relevant for us as Selby Jennings is one of the largest brands and I think Finance is one of the worst industries for diversity and female progression, that kind of stuff. So, she started as a clerk and she just got promoted to president of the New York stock exchange.

ZACH STAMP: As a business we are maturing and absolutely, we are building a platform for long term careers here. I can tell you, from way back, it wasn’t always necessarily viewed as a long-term career but the more we offer things like this that allow people to continue their careers as we grow older, as we mature as an organisation, the business is doing a hell of a lot for that.