We are not defined by our gender, and this is completely true.
I have worked in the recruitment industry for over 15 years and most recently within the IT recruitment sector, which is predominately male-dominated – and it has never held me back.
There are simple ingredients to getting on in your career in my opinion; being brave – be yourself and say what you think, if you do not agree with something then speak up and outline the facts, having drive - identifying what it is you want and putting the hours in and working smart to achieve them. None of these are gender specific.
I have been relentless in my pursuit of the career I've wanted, and I have made sacrifices along the way to achieve this such as late nights and weekend work. When my friends would have gone to the gym and were eating dinner already, I would be still on the train on the way home – all of this was my choice, I knew if I wanted to make it to the top within the sector I had to work hard AND smart. Some reading this might think how irresponsible to say when there is so much literature about the need for a work-life balance and the need to work less, but in our sector, we service clients around the globe over many different time zones, and we are profitable as a business by working to our clients demand. My working pattern reflects the needs of the company I work in; I am not saying it is not tough at times, it is, but I also love it. I work long hours, but I also have a good level of wellbeing – you can do both; it just needs some planning.
During International Women’s Day I attended a few seminars, some were thought-provoking and genuinely about balance and equality, but some seemed to focus on ‘men bashing’, and this is not balance. We have come a long way, and we need to respect all sexes as I have had support from both men AND women during my career. At one networking event a group of us were discussing feminism – a self-styled feminist commented that she would expect a man to pay on a first date – this is not equality. Some seem to want it all, old values and customs but new age principles. It is nice having the door held open for me by a man, but I don’t expect it.
Another subject that comes up repeatedly in these seminars is about juggling motherhood, being a wife and having a career, and while these are very important and right to be raised and debated, there is more to some of us than motherhood and being a wife. Let’s think about some of the women in the world that cannot have children, have not had the opportunity to or simply don’t want to have children, I have not seen many panel speakers that are female that do not have children and speak out about it. A lot of panel speakers' main topics tend to talk about juggling motherhood and being a wife, all of which I respect but not of interest to me in the development of my career (at this stage!).
I have had great support from the Board of Directors, all of which are male – they have encouraged my development within Square One from the start, and my directorship, and I have learned lots from them. I did not get this post just to appease diversity stats to help the brand or quotas, which I disagree with – I feel if we want a level playing field we should earn our right to take the top jobs, not because of our gender. I would not want to hold a post if it were to fill a quota, I want it purely on merit.
At Square One we do not care what sex you are as long as you work hard and are on the same bus as us going to the same location – getting on with the job in hand. I do care that our gender and diversity numbers are balanced as it makes for a better business.
I am proud to be a Director at Square One and the fact that I am female? That is irrelevant. However, I do hope that it helps to show others that there is no glass ceiling here.