My first few months in recruitment, during a training day, an independent recruitment trainer turned around to me and said, “As a woman in recruitment, you have it easier than men; women prefer to speak to other women and men prefer to speak to a woman than a man.”
Straight out of University, identifying myself as a feminist, I was taken-aback by this casual round-up of women (and men) in recruitment. Do women have it easier? Is this a career that is harder for men when I had been so very conscious of women’s struggles in business thus far? It is a question that has constantly played on my mind throughout my career and something that I am always questioning.
So, I wanted to explore this in my blog:
Do women have it easier than men in recruitment?
There is a debate that women are perceived as being more trustworthy than men; building strong relationships without the chauvinistic qualities that can be associated with male recruiter’s. Whether true or not – history proves that stereotypes do stick.
Women tend to look at all the details, and keep in mind the long-term rather than the “quick fix.” It is another stereotype that women listen more (maybe because men are more confident in what they are saying?) and thus are able to spot potential problems and head-them-off before they become an issue.
Although it is changing, women in high positions in companies are still at a minority compared to men – women are often swamped by men in business and thus, having a female recruiter to identify with, and share a common struggle with, may mean that other women take a softer approach to a woman recruiter over a man.
There is an unconscious (or conscious!) bias towards men in business and women’s career progression. This is something that most feminists would recognise at The Patriarchy in any capitalist society - and whilst I do recognise that I think (particularly in the UK) this is changing to be more equal - I was once asked by a hiring manager if my female candidates were planning on having children because they needed someone for the long-term! Bias towards men definitely exists. Not to mention the fact that women do only hold 4.2% of CEO positions in America’s 500 biggest companies.
Which brings me on to maternity pay - like anyone (male or female) in recruitment, we earn a base salary and work for our commission on top. This commission is what drives us in our work to succeed! However, when it comes to maternity leave – the maternity pay is mostly only based on basic salary. So, if women in recruitment choose to have a baby, we are punished more so than other women in other industries; who’s maternity pay would be based on their full salary.
Sales environments are inevitably competitive and “workplace banter” is common-place. I have never been a victim of sexist banter but one article struck me by Jessica Reesby (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-interview-recruitment-times-uk-qa-womens-issues-jessica-reesby) wherein she advises women to be weary of recruitment for sexism. I think this is down to a competitive environment and women being easily targeted for this type of banter, as we are in any working environment.
In conclusion, do women have it easier in recruitment? I think it is a difficult one to judge and not so clear-cut as my trainer first suggested. Women can make great recruiters – but we still face the challenges that all women face in business today. Recruitment is no different to any other industry and I for one, would not like to say that one sex is better than another at a particular job!