Key takeaways

  • We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, broaden perceptions, and improve situations for women and one of the ways we can do that is by fostering a culture of confidence in the workplace.
  • Leaders need to be brave about changing mindsets and challenging peoples’ thoughts, with the help of research and data. 
  • Leaders need to find better ways to attract talent in leadership roles – people who are willing to step up and challenge the norm. 

I was very proud to asked to take part in a Women in Leadership discussion organised by Bullhorn to mark International Women’s Day.

To celebrate the International Women’s Day theme of #eachforequal, myself and several other female leaders from the recruitment industry were invited to discuss the significant role we can play in creating a gender-equal world.

We discussed how that can be achieved through our line of work in helping to find meaningful careers for those we place, as well as within our organisations and advocating for the next generation of female leaders. 

We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, broaden perceptions, and improve situations for women and one of the ways we can do that is by fostering a culture of confidence in the workplace.

I was very proud to speak about what Davidson is doing to overcome problems such as unconscious bias and how help women progress their careers.

I explained that we have looked at how we recruit our staff internally and how, after the initial phone screen, we have development testing that is aligned to our internal success profiles and use this testing to match the candidate to the job requirement to increase our diversity and inclusion. 
 
As leaders, I believe we need to be brave about changing mindsets and challenging peoples’ thoughts, with the help of research and data. We need to find better ways to attract talent in leadership roles – people who are willing to step up and challenge the norm. 

My wish is that when my sons have their own children, they are never asked “‘why doesn’t your mum drop you off at school?”. Hearing comments like that in today’s society blows my mind. 

Apart from coaching and mentoring Davidson staff – both female and male - a major focus of my career has been helping women who come to me for advice on their career paths. When that happens, I always reflect back to what I’ve done and how I’ve done it and enjoy the chance to share with them the positive and negative experiences I’ve needed to have in order to get where I am today.

There is a wide network of women I’ve worked with over the years who are still in contact and will call if they need support or just want to talk about how they are going and what they need.

I have been one of the lucky ones who has never been judged or classified by my gender. The stereotype questions started to come after I became a parent. Could I continue to do a role because I was a mother? What flexibility would I require? 

I have grown up in business that has been heavy male dominated but I have been fortunate enough to work with and for respectful males who believed in equality.

What has affected me most has been other women judging my ability to my role, which was more obvious after I had a family. My work ethic never changed, although my body certainly had. I was lucky that my husband and I shared the raising of our sons, so my work arrangements didn’t need to change. 

I always remember the comment another female leader made to me when I asked to be considered for a particular role. She said: “It’s not your turn, your boys are young”. 

At that point, I knew I was no longer valued in that company. 

I love to see staff grow and strive to be the best they can and am proud to lead a company that is inclusive and provides both men and women with the means to achieve their goals, both professionally and personally.


By Jacqui Wightman, Davidson Chief Operations Officer