Recruitment – Not Just a Boys’ Club


Recruitment – Not Just a Boys’ Club

Ruby Mulvaney, Recruitment Consultant

I was the first female to join Saragossa as a recruitment consultant. The first thing my mum said when I told her where I was going was ‘it’ll be a really ‘laddy’ environment’ followed by ‘are you sure you’re up for that?’.

I completely ignored her. My greatest strength is my judgement and gut instinct, so despite the male-heavy environment I had witnessed in my interviews, I was ready to take it on and give these boys a run for their money because I had a good feeling about it.

Fast forward to the 12 months after my first placement, and I am now looking at my second promotion. I could not be happier with the progress I have made, entirely from my own genuine hard work and dedication.

Habits or behaviours that are/were traditionally perceived as ‘girly’ throughout school – like being highly organised and making over the top or extra-detailed notes on everything— are now the traits to which I attribute  most of my success.

I believe that women, as a collective, have only recently stopped being paranoid about words like ‘bossy’, ‘nagging’, ‘needy’ and ‘weak’ and are now understanding that they are capable of ‘leading’, ‘managing’ and ‘diligence’ with a different kind of strength. Even a decade ago we were more careful to not step on people’s toes, to accept our glass ceiling and be interrupted and shut out of important decisions.

I occasionally enjoy a cigar and a Glenlivet on the rocks, I’m not a ball of tears if you punch me in the crotch and – to top it off — I look damn good in a suit. This is my boys’ club now.

Leah Walters, Recruitment Consultant

Joining Saragossa, I was the most polar opposite to all of the boys.  I am your typical girly girl – I grew up in the countryside, went to a traditional girl’s school where we had etiquette and ballroom dancing lessons and were taught ‘we were equal but opposite’ from a young age.

The lessons I learned in school – which may be seen as frivolous or out-dated – have given me the confidence to deal with all the challenges this industry throws at me. I can keep my cool and smile while someone is being out of order. I can enchant in client meetings over dinner. And I can throw myself in the deep end at networking events – without spilling my drink.

I am not afraid to admit that I have characteristics I used to think were weaknesses, which are actually what make me good at my job now. I am a natural process follower, I am hyper organised and talk far too much – however in this role they are what make you successful.

Naturally I am a trusting person, I always try to see the best in people and although this is a good trait it has been the hardest quality to overcome in this role.

In this industry the culture can be full of sharks, but I like to be a puffer fish instead. I have stepped out of my comfort zone and although I haven’t reached my goal yet, I believe I have achieved the most considering where I came from.

Rebecca Cawley-Hassall, Head of Finance

I admit that before I came to work for a recruitment company, I assumed the air would be filled with the sounds of ‘love’, ‘darling’ and the odd bit of Sid James-esque sexism.

I took the plunge anyway (go big or go home and all that). And, yeah – I’m pretty happy I did.

There’s no sexism, no female-hating, no bottom-pinching – just a lot of lovely men and some equally lovely women. 

Yes, the air can be a bit testosterone-charged and at the end of the week I struggle to wash the smell of ‘men’ out of my hair.

Yes, there is a lot of talk about ball games and ‘ball games’ – but once you get past that what you’re left with is a group of jolly nice human beings, all trying to do the best they can in an industry which is at its best unforgiving and at its worst goddamn soul-destroying (I say this with an outsider’s perspective). 

You need some serious life skills to achieve in recruitment – you need confidence, resilience and a desire to succeed. Do women lack these qualities? Hell no, in fact there are some studies that show women to be the more resilient sex (but I’m saving that tidbit for my Saragossa Zombie Apocalypse blog post).

Just like we need more women in tech, financial services and CEO positions, we need more women in recruitment, and not just in support roles or softer recruitment specialities either.

Which means we need to make recruitment as a whole more female-friendly – no more quota-filling, token hires, and no more jokes about the female sidekick attending a client meeting. And for the love of God, stop calling us ‘birds’!

Joanne Knight, Office Manager

I’ve worked with different recruitment firms for the past 20 years. Some of these have been male dominated, some female dominated.

One of my first roles was with a large IT recruitment consultancy. There was a mixture of male and females there – maybe a 60:40 split. I never felt outgunned by the guys in the office – in fact it was a great environment. Busy, vibrant, energetic, fun – it was exactly what I wanted to get me up and out of bed in the mornings.  

What I did notice was that some of the men were often surprised by how successful the women were, especially when there was a female name on top of the leaderboard – which happened quite often! It’s definitely a hard working environment to be in, and male or female you really have to prove your worth. 

As a woman, presently working in the IT recruitment sector in a mostly male office, although I would love more women to join us, I do feel very comfortable in my surroundings.  On the whole, it’s not about whether I work with a man or a woman, it’s whether I work with people who have respect for one another, that enjoy their job and believe in themselves.