The recruitment industry has a reputation as a male-dominated field. Whilst more and more women are achieving senior roles in recruitment, there is still a long way to go. For International Women’s Day, we spoke to three of our female senior managers to find out what it is like being a female in recruitment, how male-dominated the field really is and what we can do to support women to achieve the most senior roles. We spoke to Tanya Ridding who has been working in the recruitment industry for nearly 5 years and manages our global medical device team.


What does a typical workday look like for you?

I wake up early to go to the gym before work, get ready and then I come into the office or go back to my home office depending on where I am working from that day. Every morning, I have a meeting with my team to understand what their day looks like, how they are getting on with any processes they are working on and help them with any problems they are facing. Then my day starts with plenty of calls, emails and putting together strategic plans. It’s always incredibly busy, but I love it and it is a great feeling being able to support the careers of other women through your work.


Almost a third (30%) of recruitment firms have less than 5% female leaders at board level. In your experience have you found recruitment to be a male-dominated field, and why do you feel women struggle to reach the most senior levels in recruitment?

In my previous work environments, there has been less than 5% women across the business and no senior female leaders at all. A lack of women attracts a lack of women. Culture is driven from the top; having more females in senior positions can help to make it more inclusive. Whilst there is always more than can be done in any business, I now work in an environment where there is around 44% women and there are female senior leaders, which makes such a big difference. We are dominating the billing leader board and that is amazing to see. It is also important that there is a solid progression plan for everyone who joins the business, so people are promoted on merit and can reach the top levels.

“A lack of women attracts a lack of women. Culture is driven from the top; having more females in senior positions can help to create an inclusive culture.”

What do you think is the biggest issue today facing women in recruitment? What do you think companies in the recruitment industry can do to support women more?

The role itself is challenging and time-consuming and this can be difficult if you have family commitments. For me, it is about finding the right company for you that cares about you as an individual and can build in the flexibility that you need to be successful. It is also important to utilise your time effectively, be organised and be self-motivated. Companies need to focus on being flexible to what each person needs to succeed.


What barriers have you faced as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?

In my personal experience, I have not always been taken seriously. In my first few years in the industry, people openly talked about me – and to me – in a sexist capacity and objectified me. In an environment without a gender balance, a ‘lads’ culture can develop, and this creates a further issue for women looking to join the business.  There should always be a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of discriminatory behaviour and language.

“There should always be a zero-tolerance policy towards any form of discriminatory behaviour and language.”

What have you found most useful in your career in terms of helping you to advance?

Having tenacity and drive has definitely helped me to advance. I know what I want to achieve in my career and despite not always working in a gender-balanced environment, I have focused on motivating myself and doing a good job. I haven’t always had female leaders to look up to in this industry and I hope as more of us get to senior-level positions we can change that for others.


What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting a career in recruitment?

Don’t let yourself be intimidated. It’s a very male-dominated environment – even in this day and age. However, women generally have excellent interpersonal, reasoning and organisation skills and therefore the only extra things you need to get to the top is a little bit of confidence and a supportive environment! If the culture isn’t right for you, find a company that matches what you need.