“By not engaging women, businesses are losing out on half of the available talent pool”

As the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) is ‘Balance for Better’ we caught up with BRC’s sales director Sarah Boyle about her experience in the recruitment industry and why businesses need true gender balance in all aspects of the workplace. 

Q: How did you first get into business?

A: After completing my degree, I started out as a sales manager in the telecommunications industry. I worked for a few years and saved enough money to take some time out to travel. When I got back, I fancied a change but really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. By chance I met somebody who worked in recruitment and she convinced me to come for an interview with her company. That was 18 years ago, and I haven’t looked back since! 

Q: What was your driving force to succeed in recruitment, which has traditionally been viewed as a male environment?

A: Although some sectors within the recruitment industry have been traditionally male dominated, I’ve been lucky and had the opportunity to work alongside some very inspirational women and men who’ve been great role models.

They really helped to build my confidence in the early days. I was always driven to succeed as I wanted to earn good money and to be recognised for my achievements, so recruitment was a perfect choice. I joined BRC in 2003 and we have always enjoyed a good gender balance across our offices, which is something that is very important to me.

Q: The theme of this year’s IWD is “Balance for Better” which is aimed at tackling inequality – what do you think that women bring to the workplace that brings balance?

A: I believe that achieving gender balance in the workplace brings huge benefits for women, men, business and the economy as a whole. Achieving gender balance and an inclusive culture increases employee retention, which is hugely important for many organisations as high staff turnover and increased recruitment is costly.

Studies also show that a balanced workforce results in higher satisfaction levels which in turn increases employee engagement and performance.

Businesses will also benefit from having a wider talent pool. We all have different strengths and attributes that we can bring to the table. By not engaging female representation, businesses are losing out on half of the available talent pool and the unique attributes that female workers can bring.

Q: How have you seen the recruitment industry change for the better in this regard? 

A: It’s been great to see more and more women being successful in the recruitment industry, especially in senior management positions, but we still have a long way to go. Women continue to be under represented at board level and this is something that needs to change.

Q: What do you think is still to be done to encourage and develop women in business?

A: There is a lot to be done by business to help move towards balance and equality in the workplace, but issues around gender stereotypes start from an early age and I believe that reaching out to girls and boys at primary school is key.

By the age of seven studies have shown that children already have preconceptions about the roles that are suitable for men and women.

Parents and teachers have an important role to play in the early years, but business and industry should increase outreach to senior schools to encourage more girls to continue with STEM subjects and to pursue careers in sectors which have been traditionally dominated by men.

Women who reach senior levels in business have a huge responsibility to support the development of young women through coaching and mentoring, and through establishing women’s networking groups and running events.

Q: Which female inspires you in business?

A: I really admire Karren Brady. She has achieved so much in her career but has also championed the cause of women in business and has repeatedly called upon her fellow female professionals to help those trying to make their way in the business world.

Q: What advice would you give to women starting out in their careers today? 

  • Have confidence in your abilities
  • Ask for help and support others around you
  • Be positive
  • Prove yourself through your results
  • Always aim high and don’t let fear of failure stop you
  • Listen to feedback – never stop learning and trying new things
  • Embrace change
  • Show that you’re ambitious and that you believe in yourself – go for that promotion!

Interested in working at BRC? Sarah would love to hear from you. You can email her at bristol@brcjobs.co.uk.