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If your recruitment partner tells you they can only find qualified male candidates, they’re wrong

If your recruitment partner tells you they can only find qualified male candidates, they’re wrong

Mark.Freed / 11 Oct 2017

Mark Freed E2W CEO says "If your recruitment partner tells you they can only find qualified male candidates, they’re probably wrong." 

Meeting gender targets that enable businesses to collect the gender dividend depend on them being able to recruit more women. If you are targeting 50-50 by 2020 you will need to ensure your recruitment strategies reflect this goal. But how often have you been told by your recruitment partner that they can only find qualified male candidates? Do you sometimes get the feeling that the female candidates have been added to a short list almost as an afterthought, or to meet some kind of contractual KPI? 

State Street CEO, Jay Hooley, described the issue he observed during his first years in the position. He recalls that during the promotion process, men were putting forward candidate lists comprising mostly men – usually a 90:10 split men to women. He sent them back to rethink, asking for lists with at least a 60:40 split. The results? He describes, “Of the women that didn’t make the first list, guess where they were in the final stack ranking? All in the top third.” 

Hooley described the above as a “classic, teachable moment around unconscious bias.” It exemplifies one of the issues in recruitment and promotion that holds women back from top positions: not being considered or put forward, despite being qualified. 

Since the launch of our talent solutions business we have proven that by looking in the right places we can find quality female candidates for any mid and senior tier financial services role. In fact, over the last six months we have met our own targets of submitting three quality candidates for 70% of the roles that our clients, firms like Barclays, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, UBS, LGIM, and M&G, have released to us. 

Do things in the same old way and you get the same old results.

I recently overheard a conversation between an agency and HR person. The leading investment manager had just changed their recruitment PSL terms to require that all agencies provide a 50/50 candidate gender split for all roles. The agency representative said that he would have trouble meeting that criteria, as there just weren’t quality female candidates for many roles. His problem was his approach. His standard tools were LinkedIn, job boards and CV libraries – places dominated by men.   

The challenge at the senior end of the spectrum is seen in what Jay Hooley described, and which Jayne-Anne Gadhia called the “old boys club”. A senior HR professional at a leading bank described it to me: “Head hunters and Recruitment Consultants tend to rely on a relatively small network of people who they have helped move around the industry for years. Of course they can’t find any women – they are not looking for them.”

If we are going to drive change within the industry and become more diverse we need to look at changing our recruitment practices. E2W have addressed the problem by developing a community of 8000 mid and senior tier women pursuing careers in financial services in London, New York and Asia. We are helping these women through the lifecycle of their careers – mentoring, coaching, networking and collaborating on business issues – and by helping them with their next career move, whatever it may be. 

With this community, we have been able to find female candidates for even the most ‘male dominated’ roles.   

If your recruitment partner is saying that they can’t find female candidates – choose another recruitment partner. 

Mark in his own words:

Who am I? 
I am a man who saw an opportunity 20 years ago to address a critical issue in the financial services sector. Although most thought I was mad, I still run this business that dedicates itself to supporting the financial services careers of women and helping firms collect the gender dividend by employing more of them in UK, USA and Asia.   

What are my targets for this year?
Meeting the public pledge we made to HM Treasury via the Women in Finance Charter to help and support a diverse group of 200 women secure career moves, or either continue or return to their finance services careers.   

Why as a man am I doing this?
Because I'm passionate about the economic and social benefits of gender parity, and have thoroughly enjoyed experiencing these benefits.  I'm a committed 'parity-ist’. It's critical men get on board with the agenda.  

You can contact Mark at

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