This Wednesday 8th March is International Women’s Day. The United Nations’ theme this year is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.” As part of the STR Group, a leader in STEM recruitment, Insignis wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Gemma Langley, Operations Director of Insignis whose focus is engineering and technology.
What interested you in working in recruitment?
During my initial employment following my university studies, I was given the responsibility of building and developing a team, which led to my first experience and use of a recruitment agency. It became apparent that fostering a close relationship with the recruitment agency, helping them understand what I needed in order to build a successful team, was crucial in ensuring that they fully understood my hiring needs in order to provide a good calibre of candidate.
As a result of our effective collaboration, the relationship between the recruiter and I developed to the point where we became friends. The recruiter knew I was looking for my next career move and suggested that I transition to recruitment, recognising my talent for building strong relationships and understanding the importance of hiring the right talent.
Following this suggestion, an interview was arranged, and I successfully transitioned to the recruitment industry, which lead me here today.
What’s it like to be a woman working at director level within recruitment?
It can be challenging at times, of course, but I think any director role in any industry sector would be challenging, especially if you care about your role and have a passion for what you do. I’m a mum, therefore I have to create a balance inside and outside of work; STR creates an environment where I can do this and the group fully supports all of its employees in having a flexible work pattern. This enables me to drop off and pick up my little one from nursery 3 days a week, one of which I work from home, creating a good balance between being a mum and a mum who wants to have a successful career.
Since commencing my career in recruitment in 2008, I have come to appreciate the importance of effectively communicating my thoughts and opinions in a constructive manner. It is imperative that colleagues, teams, and senior management can understand and envision anyone’s insights that add value. In any given environment, delivery plays a critical role, particularly in addressing gender-specific perspectives, as male and female mindsets may interpret things differently. Encouraging a cohesive thought process is essential for promoting innovation, which can only be achieved through support from colleagues and leadership. For a business to remain successful, it must continuously evolve and adapt. The challenge is to lead the journey and encourage others to embrace change by implementing, adapting, and leading.
What do you think about the ratio of women in recruitment today?
The recruitment industry has traditionally been male-dominated, but over the years, more and more women are entering the field. According to a report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the number of women in recruitment has increased from 39% in 2008 to 49% in 2017. However, women are still underrepresented in senior leadership positions within the industry, with men occupying the majority of director and executive-level roles. Efforts are being made by many organisations to increase gender diversity and create more opportunities for women to advance in the recruitment industry. Some organisations are taking active steps to address this disparity by implementing policies to promote gender diversity and inclusivity, including diversity training, mentorship programmes, and flexible working arrangements.
How did you work towards your promotion? What support did you receive?
My prior experience proved invaluable when joining the STR Group. During my initial conversations with the Group Operations Director, I expressed my ambition to advance into a more strategic role, should the opportunity arise, and my eagerness to succeed. The Group Operations Director promised to keep this in mind and remained true to their word when the chance to manage an existing team, merge another team, and rebrand to form a larger division presented itself. In addition, I requested the opportunity to undertake an MBA Level 7 in Strategic Leadership. The organisation supported this aspiration wholeheartedly, which I believed would greatly benefit my role, enable divisional growth, and improve my leadership skills on our journey towards excellence. My aim is to become one of the first female Board members in the company, using my skills and knowledge coupled with my MBA, which I believe is well within reach.
What skills do you think have helped you to achieve your promotion?
Tenacity, drive, and a desire to succeed are integral to my approach to leadership, not only for my own personal goals, but for the success of my team and peers as well. While we all work to support ourselves and our families, achieving success requires dedication and hard work. As a leader, I strive to lead by example, to motivate and inspire my team to succeed alongside and with me. Maintaining a positive mindset and a forward-thinking approach is critical, always looking towards the future and setting goals to work towards.
In recruitment, resilience is a vital characteristic. The fast-paced and ever-changing environment can be challenging, but it’s important to remain focused and continuously bounce back from setbacks. I maintain a set of core beliefs that I live and breathe, and I continually work to develop and improve my skill set. Through various methods such as training courses, mentors, reading, podcasts, audiobooks, and a continuous desire to learn and grow, I remain dedicated to enhancing my abilities and delivering value to my employer and team. I am committed to ongoing development and believe that strong leadership is not innate, but rather something that is developed through hard work, dedication, and a continuous desire to improve.
How do you think we can continue to break down the stereotypes of recruitment and improve Equality and Diversity in the industry?
Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive impact of having a more diverse management team on businesses. A diverse leadership team can improve efficiency, effectiveness, and inclusivity by bringing together a range of skills, experience, and emotional intelligence to make well-informed decisions. Beyond just broadening the talent pool, a diverse Board signals a commitment to developing women as leaders and recognises the importance of diversity for business success. The principles of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are centred around listening and including different ideas, perspectives, and viewpoints from diverse teams and leaders. By implementing these principles, businesses can demonstrate their openness and willingness to consider all ideas, and can create a robust culture that prioritises and supports the future success and growth of the organisation. As we move forward, it is crucial that we continue to focus on developing and promoting EDI in the workplace.
Start the next chapter of your story with Insignis
Are you motivated or inspired by Gemma’s story? Come and work for a company that values equally what everyone brings to the table, encourages ambition and will support you all the way! Contact our Talent team today to find out more about the opportunities available with Insignis.