Branding/Marketing/PR Thought Leadership

Is Recruitment failing women?

Originally published 2nd May 2017

The Times’ Top 50 Employers for Women in the UK report published the details of the best workplaces for women in an unranked list, yet despite recruitment being one of the fastest growing and most significant contributors to the UK economy not a single recruitment firm made the cut.

Each organisation was required to provide details on how they work towards achieving gender equality in their workplace, both from the perspective of creating an inclusive culture to actively encouraging and progressing women at all levels of the business.

Nine of the 50 named in the report are from the Legal sector, with the likes of Eversheds Sutherland, Linklaters and Hogan Lovells among them.

In fact, the professional services in general make up the majority of employers on the list and we highlight the legal sector for a reason – it is one-third the size of the recruitment sector.

As of 1st January 2017, there are around 29,000 recruitment companies currently registered as trading (Source: ClearlyPR/Companies House).

By comparison, the total number of registered law firms in the UK stands at 10,400 (Source: Solicitors Regulation Authority) – 1in 4 of which are sole practitioners.

Moreover, while the legal sector is currently growing at a rate of 8% year-on-year (Source: The Law Society), the recruitment sector has grown by 56% over the last five years.


despite being almost three-times bigger that the legal sector, the recruitment sector seems to lag behind the rest of the professional services sector when it comes to advancing the interests of women.

But what does it mean for the image of the sector?

In October, we wrote about the lack of opportunities for women in recruitment, and we pointed out that those organisations that have the highest number of women occupying senior positions actually outperform their competitors by 42%.

Clearly then, having more women in senior roles makes good business sense. But it could also boost recruitment’s profile as an employer of choice.

Indeed, research by the University of Toronto found that women more than men are inspired when they see same-sex role models succeeding in business. Yet only 1 in 4 (27%) of women recruiters said they had a female role model in the workplace, according to a report by Women in Recruitment.

The same report also found that 66% of women said that having good mentors and more female role models for new consultants to look up to would improve staff retention.

For an industry that is growing at a rapid pace yet continues to suffer from relative high turnover, simply supporting women and providing the opportunities for them to move into senior roles can only be a good thing for the recruitment sector over the long term.