International Women’s Day 2020 | A Chat with Ruth Farrar
International Women’s Day was on Sunday 8th March and this year’s theme is #EachforEqual – recognising the ongoing fight for equality amongst the genders. International Women’s Day is (subjectively) about celebrating the achievements of women who have overcome the barriers that contain so many, whilst still recognising how far there is left to go to realise gender equality.
In honour of that, today we’re celebrating the success and achievement of Ruth Farrar! Ruth is an established Recruitment Trainer, working to train recruitment teams and nurture consultants’ personal development. At ESP, we’re fortunate enough to be joined by Ruth on a weekly basis in which she helps to develop our teams and provide 1-on-1 training.
Two of our fantastic consultants, Izzy and Ravir, sat down with Ruth to discuss how she got to be a leader, her experience of getting there, the challenges she’s faced, and her advice to young, aspiring women.
Some background information on Ruth
She’s been in recruitment since July 1994! She joined a recruitment agency specialising in engineering/technical sales the same week that she got her results from university. Ruth quickly progressed in her role and after 3 short years, she co-founded a leading IT Sales recruitment company with her team. The company quickly expanded to Birmingham in 1998, just one year after being formed. The turning point for Ruth in realising that she was a leader in the industry was when she moved to Birmingham due to the expansion and took on that responsibility.
While the recruitment industry has long been notorious for being an All Boys’ Club, the narrative is finally shifting. Here at ESP, we’re proud to be balanced in terms of gender diversity – it’s highly motivational to see women succeeding, challenging stereotypes, and working to close the gender gap.
Let’s hear from Ruth…
Did you have a mentor/role model whose path you followed or took inspiration from? Was this person male or female?
Unfortunately, there were very few females in the industry when I started, and certainly none in leadership positions – so my early business role models were all male.
What are the main challenges you’ve encountered as a leader?
Learning how to lead by trial and error with absolutely no training whatsoever – I didn’t get any formal training until I had been a leader for more than 15 years – that sounds ridiculous now, doesn’t it?
Were any of these unique to you being a woman?
Yes – being taken seriously by my seniors was an issue which I also felt was gender based in certain instances.
Do you still think these challenges are prevalent today?
Not that I personally have experienced in the last 10 years, but I do see these challenges are still very real and present in the industry in general.
We’re lucky to have a diverse team at ESP with lots of young, aspiring women at the start of their careers, who look up to you, what advice would you give?
How fantastic for you to say this, and what a privilege to be working with you all. There are so many things I would say, so let’s pick a few:
- Get out there and network – find other people like you, and that have travelled the path you might want to travel – seek out women (and men) who have made themselves successful and ask how. Support each other, not just those in your business.
- Mindset is quite possibly the most important – if you can’t do it – learn how. If you set your mind to it – you can achieve it. You are your own worst enemy, so learn to manage and motivate ‘you’.
- Earn trust – your colleagues, your employers, your customers, your suppliers
- Something I read recently – never get too comfortable. If you feel like you are there, you are probably a lot further away than you ever have been. The more experience I have, the more I realise how much more there is there to learn – almost to the point of panic that I will never be able to learn it all because there is so much I don’t yet know! It is not uncommon for people with 3-5 years’ experience to think they know it all, and they don’t need any help or advice or training and then a few years later looking back and realising how wrong they were!
- Keep learning, keep developing, ride the rollercoaster and stand up and be counted at every opportunity.
- When the going gets tough – step up.
- Don’t take it personally – it’s business.
- Be kind – look after yourself.
Something that stands out is that Ruth has been in the industry for twenty-six years, co-founded a business twenty-three years ago yet only over the past ten years has she found gender-based challenges to be less prevalent (in her experience). Could that be down to attitudes changing over the past ten years towards women in business? Or could it be because she’s in a respected, leadership position that she’s consequently been met with less gender-based bias as she’s seen as more of an equal in recent years? It’s an interesting point to consider – when does a woman start being taken seriously in her capabilities?
A massive thank you to Ruth for her fantastic insight on being a leader in the industry and her honest, kind advice!
Find Ruth’s website here to get in touch regarding recruitment training!