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TGt Meets...Lucy Oliver, Managing Consultant at Pertemps - IWD Special

By Lucy Oliver who is the managing consultant at Pertemps which is one of the largest providers of staffing solutions in the UK, with over 200 branches up and down the country.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #choosetochallenge – what would you choose to challenge when it comes to gender equality or inequality this year? 

I wouldn’t say there’s anything I wish to challenge however I will  continue to ensure women are represented at all levels. Evidence continues to recognise that companies with a diverse workforce are significantly more profitable than those that aren’t. 

Women can bring diverse perspectives and their leadership can drive change, innovation and collaboration within the workplace.  That’s not to say either gender is better, put simply more diverse groups involving both genders make better decisions. 

Thinking of your own experience in the world of business – which inequalities, if any, have you experienced personally or witnessed around gender? 

I feel very fortunate that personally, I haven’t encountered inequalities in the world of business. Throughout my time at Pertemps, I have always been surrounded by strong, successful females, and I have not once felt held back or been unable to progress. Pertemps was originally founded by a woman – Connie Watts, and I feel her strength of character and legacy still powers through the business today. 

What do you think women offer in particular to the world of business? 

I think for us at Pertemps, it’s evident that businesses are advancing for women and there remains a continued importance to promote gender diversity within society. 

The first thing women offer is their diversity. Women and men will inevitably have different experiences and backgrounds, which shapes their approach to business. Even with the technological evolution we’re experiencing at the moment due to AI and automation, soft skills are an asset which will always be of value. 

Soft skills are some of the most desirable personal attributes, this combined with emotional intelligence can give a real competitive advantage for women in business. 

Is gender important when it comes to success in business? 

Gender parity is critical to business success. Businesses that invest in a diverse workplace representing those from a variety of backgrounds, will generate new ideas, new ways of thinking/working and new opportunities. 

In order to make positive change, businesses need to use open channels of communication across all levels, to understand their employees and give them the opportunity to speak out. 

Feedback from employees is essential in creating an inclusive environment, it enables you to understand what’s missing and what you can do to drive positive meaningful change within your business. 

Can you name any women in your organisation or in the wider business community that you admire?

I admire so many women in my own organisation, as well as good friends who are phenomenal females in the business community. 

One woman in our organisation who makes an impact on a daily basis, and who I very much admire is Carmen Watson, our Chairperson, who joined Pertemps as a Secretary in the 1970s and by the age of 24 was running a £5 million turnover branch in Wolverhampton. 

Carmen is also an active board member of Race for Opportunity, and is a strong advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. I very much admire that Carmen always keeps a personal touch no matter how busy she is. 

What do you think about the gender pay gap?

Closing the gender pay gap is the right step towards achieving gender parity in the UK. It’s a way to hold businesses and companies accountable and ensure women are not being discriminated against due to their gender. 

Some suggest that the wage gap is due to women taking time out of work to raise a family, causing an interruption in career progression, with many mothers taking up part time positions. 

This shows that gender roles are still very much embedded into our way of thought, which remains a big societal issue, but one which I’m pleased to say is progressing as people are recognising how unconscious bias can manifest within the workplace and society. 

We at Pertemps are one of the first in the recruitment industry to introduce an e-learning programme for all managers and consultants educating them on ‘unconscious bias’. This enables our employees to embrace a philosophy of a truly inclusive company that actively promotes diverse workforces within the business and within the businesses of our clients.  

What do you think about the International Women’s Day movement? 

International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to recognise and acknowledge women’s achievements within the wider society. As a country, we need to create more female role models and support women within business now more than ever. 

It's imperative women know they can progress and receive fair treatment throughout their career. Gender equality remains a global issue and by having a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women is one step in the right direction. 

And finally:

We’re ahead of the game here at Pertemps. Tackling inequality is one of the top priorities - our board of directors is 50/50 split between men and women. We offer equal opportunities to progress in the company, the way it should be! 

We work tirelessly with our partners, community groups and wider support networks to ensure that opportunities are available for all talented individuals and that potential obstacles and barriers to work can be overcome. 

We promote the principles of equality and fair treatment for all and are committed to the promotion of diversity and the highest possible ethical standards, which is why we have remained in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list for fourteen consecutive years – an accomplishment that no other recruitment company has achieved.

For more information visit www.pertemps.co.uk

Fiona Scott Media Consultancy Swindon

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