My journey to motherhood was probably a bit different to most women’s, and it may surprise most people to know that ever since being a child I have wanted to be a mother, just as many women do. For someone who always knew that, my route to motherhood was not exactly direct, and that was because I wanted to make sure that I was financially independent first.

Stepping into leadership

It may seem backwards to most people, but when I left a top London headhunting firm in order to set up my own company at the age of 24, the thought of having a family was the main driver that motivated me to do it. I could see the women around me, struggling to make it at a top firm, rushing home for dinners and clubs, and never really being able to be present for their children in the way they’d wanted. (While also feeling the pressure at work and delivering on top projects with all the pressure that comes with that). They were making good money, but they had to do it within a male-constructed environment, with very little understanding or flexibility around their family lives.

Early departures

At some point, most of these women left the firm, usually a couple of years after having kids. The ones that stayed, had to stay within a male-constructed way of working and living. You could call the environment ‘masculine’ – jokes, lack of sincerity in seeing another person’s view, favoring wealth above all else, extreme competition, everything you’d expect really in a leading headhunting firm in the City. It became so aggressive, that the firm eventually imploded, and a whole host of the senior team left including, quite unbelievably, the original founders themselves. It turns out floating on the market can make you quite a bit of cash, but it just makes you beholden to shareholders instead.

Creating a path for female leadership

I always knew it could be different. I always believed that women could do it another way, as long as the path was there for them to have both. Because most high-performing women don’t want to chose. They want a family AND a career.

Where are the brakes, anyway?

Asking a high-performing woman to slow down is like asking a racing driver not to use the accelerator in a McLaren. Not only will we not enjoy the ride, we don’t love using the brakes unless we really have to. And even if you show us a million times, we still won’t use them properly. Slowing down just does not come to us easily.

A lack of women at the top, produces fewer opportunities for women at all levels below

This is the main issue with male-dominated sectors and businesses, because they have never had women in charge, nothing is ever built with women in mind. So the chances of attracting and keeping them is much lower. A man cannot think like a women just because he is trying to hire them, he will never experience life the way a woman does. This is why we have to focus on how we can keep women at work, until they make our senior ranks.

I still remember the conversation with my old business partner when we were debating hiring someone who was asking us for 1 day off a week. He just couldn’t get that that person would probably deliver the same as the next person, just in 4 days. (And by the way, that isn’t what should be expected of all 4 day workers anyway, just it was what was needed at that time at our business).

Talent doesn’t know gender

If you really want to hire the best of the best, guess what, that is a really SMALL number of people who bring that to the table. You can’t overlook fantastic candidates just because they are asking you for a bit of flexibility. There is a false economy in thinking that someone less talented can deliver more because they are working for 1 more day a week.

You cannot replace talent with working more hours.

Each year, I am contacted more and more by companies looking to increase women in their leadership teams. It turns out I’m pretty good at meeting and hiring strong leaders who happen to be women, my placements often end up running those companies, and not just because they are women.

Most women do not recognise their raw skill-set for what it is actually worth

But I’m not good at hiring talent, I am actually very good at looking past the fact that that talent comes packaged in female form. And usually, when I find it, it’s not that senior or that proven, and it looks a bit unsure, or more modest than it should. I really have to assess projects and history, commitment levels, because these women do not place a high enough value on themselves and their raw skill-set. You really have to know which signs to look for.

When I see it, it’s so obvious to me, that I wonder how anyone else has missed it for this long. Those women are less confident, but not for long once they are on the right path. I see them stepping into themselves, and it really is quite breath-taking.

Talent commands respect, always

This year I’ve had the huge privilege of moving some women whose careers I helped spring-board about 10 years ago. These days they are much more proven than the early 30s women I met once with potential. These days they command respect, because the value they create and bring to the table is so high, and rightly so. Businesses would be mad not to.

Breaking new thresholds

They’ve taken their children on business trips, even abroad. Employers have agreed to giving them 4 day weeks, and flexible working when their children are sick, or agreed to their days ending at 5pm, if that was the only way they could hire them. Did my clients ever regret this? no. Did their companies thrive with these women at the helm, 100%.

And in return? Well do you think it’s just a coincidence, that they have all stayed within their employers for 8-10 years or more? Do you think that their employers give that flexibility unwillingly? Or do they do it because that colleague – even with the flex, is worth it?

Much more so than hiring someone else it seems.

I would like to say a special Thank You to all our clients and candidates for entrusting us with their journey – it has been nothing short of a pleasure to support you and discover these things on my and our journey with you..

I would also like to let you know that I’m writing this from my maternity leave, after a long awaited time I should be giving birth in a few weeks’ time to a little boy. I would like to take this opportunity to Thank You, all those men and women who have supported me and our company through now being 15 years of work in the Funds Sector in Luxembourg and Europe. Without your belief in me, Funds Talent would not be here today.

Happy International Women’s Day 2022.

It is impossible to write this without also sending our best wishes to all those women (and men) facing difficulties in Ukraine. Our firm is happy to help anyone looking for a job in Luxembourg find something, please just reach out to our team at Funds Talent. We are specialists in #Legal, #Accounting, Governance/ Company Secretary and other jobs in #Funds and Asset Management #recruitment.

#IWD #IWD2022 #breakthebias #internationalwomensday #womenatwork #careermothers #womenCEOs #celebratingwomen #flexibleworking #talentknowsnogender

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