Diversity. We’ve all read and heard about it and the reasons for achieving greater gender parity within organisations are well-documented. Now the results of a survey could serve as a call to action for recruitment agency owners to relook at those who occupy a seat at the top table, and for female recruiters to go it alone and start their own agencies and search firms.
The survey, conducted by American Express, analysed each business sector across the US between 2007-2018. What they found was that the number of women-owned businesses has boomed over the 11-year period by 58 per cent, compared to 12 per cent for all businesses in general.
In other words, the total number of new businesses opening up increased by just over 1 per cent each year between 2007-2018, the number of those started by women rose by 4.2 per cent. At the same time, these businesses created more new job opportunities, with women-owned businesses opening up on average 21 per cent more new positions while that number declined by -0.8 per cent over the same period.
But these are not the key statistics to come from this survey. What impresses most is the fact that women-owned businesses saw revenues surge 46 per cent, whereas those for all businesses increased by 36 per cent.
So, what is driving this high growth in the number of women starting their own businesses?
According to the report authors, it is a combination of ‘necessity entrepreneurship’ and ‘opportunity entrepreneurship’. A necessity entrepreneur is “an individual who cannot find quality employment or is unemployed and whose only viable employment option is to start a business.”
‘Opportunity entrepreneurs’ are those who seize the initiative to capitalise on positive trading conditions, such as what we are seeing in the UK recruitment industry. Of the 40,000 recruitment agencies currently operating in this country, how many are led by women?
Female fast lane
Women in Recruitment cites that while 56 per cent of all senior roles in the sector are held by women, just 23 per cent hold director positions. We’re not going to go into the ins and outs as to why this may be, but think for a minute the implications of this: The UK recruitment industry has seen a three-fold increase in just a handful of years. So, it follows that given the results of the American Express research above, the sector could – and should – be even bigger and more buoyant than it is now if more women were running and owning their own agencies and search businesses.
Diversity is critical to agency growth
The onus is on recruitment business leaders to create an environment where women can not only strive, but also be given the opportunity to advance their careers. Agencies can no longer operate as they once did.
The world has changed, clients have changed. They want to partner with agencies whose teams are more reflective of their own – this plays an increasingly influential role in their decision-making. Clients are savvy people, they’ve read the research. They know that businesses that are led, jointly-led or owned by women are more profitable, successful and generally better at developing ground-breaking approaches to talent attraction.
The more women taking the helm, the better it will be for the recruitment industry as a whole. In addition to improving perception of the agency brand in the eyes of its clients, women- led, jointly-led or owned agencies and search firms not only create much-needed role models for everyone else in the business, they raise their profile as an employer of choice in their own right, too.