RIX: Sharon, your background is not in recruitment. What attracted you to FutureYou?
SL: The idea of moving into a new industry, for a startup, in a new role scares a lot of people. But for me, it was exactly what I was looking for. Getting out of my comfort zone. Taking that leap away from your comfort levels initiates an incredible journey of self-discovery.
You become more creative, confident, resilient, experienced, and for me, more fulfilled.
I’ve learnt that the recruitment industry is very niche. It's important to establish and build partnerships in the market. Like with external vendors for the website, job boards, marketing automation, and CRM. I’ve also learnt you don’t always need a huge budget to create something that’s amazing – you just need an eye for detail, and inquisitive brain and great ideas sourced from a diverse group of amazing minds. There's a real benefit of divesity in the workplace in action.
RIX: Emily, you're a recruitment veteran. What makes FutureYou so different from the average exec search firm?
EW: As an industry I think we tend to follow rather than innovate. What sets FutureYou apart in the Australian recruitment industry starts with our people.
Our people are all specialists with a minimum 3 to 4 years’ experience in their chosen field, some as many as 20 years’ experience. We have a diverse mix of cultures, ages, ethnicities and gender identification.
Our purpose, the power to connect without limitation and our values have resonated with both clients and candidates as well as our industry peers.
Staying true to our values are at the heart of every decision we have made as a company since launch.
Gender diversity in the workplace
RIX: There seem to be fewer women in recruitment leadership than there were fifteen years ago. Why is that? And how is FutureYou investing in diversity and equality?
EW: To see change, there needs to be a focus on demonstrating pathways. Creating a culture that supports gender equality and cultural diversity. It's about providing an environment where women have the opportunity to truly thrive.
When we talk about environment, it’s about creating one that reflects the needs of women, supported by both formal and informal policies which promote diversity, equality, inclusion, and flexibility.
We do this through our Parental Leave Policy, our L&D frameworks, and our distinct approach to work-life integration.
For women taking on leadership roles this often coincides with the time they are also starting families. If organisations want to retain exceptional talent, they need open and supportive cultures underpinned by forward-thinking policies that suit individual priorities.
We have 12 women in our leadership team and more than half work part-time. They show how it is possible to take on a senior role while integrating work and life, which for many includes bringing up a young family. That level of flexibility extends across the entire organisation; women, men, family or no family.
As a female leader, I’m acutely aware of my responsibility as a role model to women in our industry who have their sights on leadership roles. Particularly those who want to combine family and career. I wrote a LinkedIn post on the subject just recently.
Beyond ethnicity & gender diversity in the workplace: Age
RIX: The Aus workforce is changing and FutureYou is putting together a program catering specifically to an older, professional workforce. Can you explain this?
SL: People are living longer. They’re retiring later. We need to look at how we support this new older workforce. We’re finding older generations still want to contribute, albeit in a different way to their previous 20 years in the workforce. Equally, businesses can draw considerable value from those years of expertise.
Rather than retire many are tapering their retirement, particularly at the executive end of the market. They are choosing to gradually scale back, adopt portfolio careers, or change their duties rather than cease working altogether. They are choosing more flexible work environments or project work that’s interesting and rewarding, and where they can still add value.
Organisations are increasingly hiring people based on values, alignment on purpose, and how they can add to the company vision, regardless of age. They recognise the value of diversity in the workforce in terms of age and gender.
Some organisations are ready and willing to embrace an increasing diversity. But we’ve got a long way to go to challenge and change the mindset of Australian businesses.
I want to get them to fully embrace diversity at work and to see value in the expertise of older professionals.
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