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Beat the Boys' Club II: Lessons From Three of the World's Top Headhunters

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Most workplaces are a man's domain. In the second of an exclusive two-part special feature, three of the world's top executive level recruiters speak to Woman-On-Top.com Editor-In-Chief Polly Stewart  and give tips on changes you can make today to beat the boys' club, and offer their views on what companies could do to improve diversity. If you missed the first part of this feature, just    click here.

Malcolm Thorp of Thorp & Partners has successfully sought out and recruited many of the technology sector’s top talent for over 25 years. He is all too aware of the industry’s reputation as being male-oriented due to the lack of women pursuing science and engineering qualifications - and technology historically being seen as 'geeky'. He pro-actively seeks to identify female candidates to short list in every search he does.

Changes you can make today...

"Be more pro-active. Don't wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder. Go and talk to headhunters or your boss or people in your network and tell them what you want. Ensure you are on the promotion radar and stay there."

What companies need to do...

"Businesses need to learn to recognise better what women are good at and value their contribution in a different way. It comes down to the simple fact that women don't have testosterone, men do and most businesses are male dominated; just look at the number of men on FTSE boards.

"It is wrong and it needs to change, but it is the prevailing situation. Companies must identify high potential women and make a concerted and pro-active effort to promote them. That is the only way we will get more women capable of getting on to boards."

Ms Lim Chye Lian is the Managing Director & Founder of Executive Talent International, a leading boutique executive search firm in Asia.

 Unlike the UK, the USA and some other countries, there is no discriminatory law in Singapore with regard to the non-hiring of women. Singapore is arguably one of the few countries in the world where there are equal opportunities for women represented by a high percentage of women in the workplace. The government is proactive and takes the lead in the appointment of female non-executive board members. 


Changes you can make today...

"Always be clear of your goals. As women, these goals can shift according to the different phases of your lives. For example, some women who have young children put everything career-related on hold, intending to decide later what they want to achieve.

Women should have a strategic plan for their entire career and family life. If one needs to take a break, it should be planned within the larger scheme of things to ensure continuity and a long term perspective. Think about what is holistically attainable, and go for it.

"Raise your hand and let your interest be known if you feel that you have the experience and qualification for the next role."

What companies need to do...

"I have been out of the corporate world for some time, but when I was there, I never felt disadvantaged being a woman, though very often I was the only woman in the senior management team. In our talent acquisition initiatives, I was never biased and looking to hire more women for the sake of increasing the number.

"Women should not feel that they ought to be treated more favourably. Some organizations have a global program to drive diversity, but women should have the mindset that if they are hired they are truly the best person for the job.

"Companies should set a very clear diversity target. There is a lot of talk, but the actual deliverables often fall short especially with quick fix, high profile burst of activities. Success is more sustainable when targets are realistic and measurable. Such measurement should begin at the board level, making the appointment of more women in senior roles part of the company’s overall business strategy as well as one of the CEO' s key performance objectives.

"Notwithstanding the above, companies must only appoint women if they are the best qualified. Success will breed success. Managers at all levels should be encouraged to hire more qualified women in order to create a strong pipeline of female talent."

Clark Waterfall is Managing Director of BSG Team Ventures. The retained executive search firm has offices in Boston, San Francisco and London, and specializes in recruiting leaders for rapidly changing environments in private equity, PE portfolio firms and start-ups, the public sector and not-for-profit. 

Changes you can make today...

"Be aware of the different communication styles. Try to be a situational leader, a chameleon. It's really important your approach is not one size fits all.

"A female CEO went to a board meeting and asked the other board members in their opinion strategically what was the best option in a given situation. I was told 'She's not strong enough', 'She doesn't know what to do', 'She needs to go if she doesn't know the answer.'

"I talked to her after the meeting and she told me she was asking for input as she was trying to build a coalition, build a consensus. It was as if two completely different board meetings had taken place.

"Read the room, read your audience and understand how best to navigate that water. A really good book to read is 'Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men At Work', by Dr. Deborah Tannen."

What companies need to do better

"Expose women to board meetings and to the executive roundtable. If you are the CEO, have each one of your functional leaders present. Empowering them gives them great experience and great insight. Board directors will ask questions of them.

"But making them part of the leadership requires an enlightened CEO who has a lot of political capital with the board and is very confident in his or her security and longevity with the company.

"Introducing a women's leadership curriculum and training programme, given the difference in lexicon, given the content, could also help bridge the gender gap."

To read the first part of this feature, please Click here.

Reproduced from www.Woman-on-Top.com the UK's first magazine for career-minded working women.

"Re-published with kind permission from Woman-on-Top."


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