Diversity, Leadership, Honesty: Azon Business Leaders on International Women’s Day 2023 #IWD2023

To mark International Women’s Day 2023, we sat down with some of our management team to discuss the reality of building a business, being a leader, handling success & failure, and fostering diversity in the workplace.

They bring a plethora of experience from different perspectives; we wanted to celebrate that today.

picture of Laura Murphy, Associate Director at Azon, standing, with laptop in hand

Laura Murphy, Associate Director – Talent & Culture

Traditionally recruitment has been a male-dominated industry. Have you seen a change in the last few years? How can we continue to improve the progress women are making in the recruitment industry?

There’s been a massive shift in the demographics of agency recruiters in recent years and we’re all the better for it. Last year, women accounted for 55% of the recruitment industry in Ireland. However, the number of women in leadership roles remains significantly lower.

We all have a responsibility to create opportunities and to level the playing field – this must come from the top down, and action is needed from men and women in leadership positions.

Here at Azon, a key driver for positive change has been the introduction of benefits including paid health insurance, contributory pension, flexible working locations and paid maternity leave. This gives women additional support in the pursuit of their professional ambitions.

There’s a lot more work to be done but we’re taking steps in the right direction.

Emma Wickham, Manager – Life Science & Engineering Recruitment

What are some of the challenges you faced in a leadership role and how did you overcome them?

I began my first leadership role around a year and a half ago. It was a big transition and there have definitely been a number of challenges along the way. My goal was to set up a Life Sciences division here in Azon and to build out a team, and I really think my biggest challenge has been self-doubt.

There have been a lot of ups and downs since I started. Lots of celebrations of wins for the team and also lots of falls along the way. It’s the falls that people don’t warn you about and it is these that have really made me doubt myself at times and doubt whether I am the best person to get a team up and running. I think a lot of people believe once you get to a leadership role it is plain sailing from there, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The best way I have overcome this self doubt is to look back at what I’ve achieved so far, and really celebrate successes when they do come along. It’s important to focus on the positives rather than the negatives, but also to be prepared for the negatives so they don’t hit too much when they come along.

Gillian O’Dowd, Finance & Corporate Affairs

What do you believe is the most important thing in building a successful business?

In my experience in building a business, the most important attribute is honesty. The best outcomes can be achieved when people are open and honest with each other . Teams work better together if they are honest with each other and articulate what they actually think – clients can get a better result if they inform the recruitment business on exactly what is going on behind the scenes, and job seekers will access the best career opportunities if say from the start what they are looking for.

Eimear Murphy, Manager – HR & Office Support

What practices/methods do you use to ensure diversity in your recruiting process?

This is not something I feel I have to consciously focus on due to the immense talent in the women that I work with – I feel as though talent speaks for itself, and whether you are man or woman, or regardless of where in the world you are from, I will base my recruitment processes on who is the best fit for the job.

Predominantly in the area that I recruit which is Business Support and HR, these areas are both female dominated. This speaks for itself due to their incredible interpersonal skills, tenacity, and drive.

A survey carried out by the CSO in 2021, showed that 30% of Senior Execs within Irish businesses are female. This is compared with 28% in 2019.

Diversity within Recruitment is most definitely at the forefront of my clients minds and they are conscious of a gender balance within their companies and individual teams when discussing their recruitment processes with them.

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