5 innovative women in recruitment

Who are the five most innovative women in the recruitment industry?

The world of recruitment is changing, and women are a driving force of this change. Here we highlight five individuals who are responsible for bringing transformative and positive change to the industry, but who also serve as excellent role models for everyone.

They share a number of common traits such as drive, talent, energy, enthusiasm, vision and business acumen. What they also have in common is a wish to make the recruitment world a better place, not only for candidates and employers, but for those who work in the sector as well.

Between them, they are champions of diversity, technology, data, change and, crucially, people. And, while their achievements are already considerable, it is clear that their best could be yet to come.


1. Wendy McDougall

Wendy McDougall was a running a leading IT recruitment agency but was frustrated by the limitations of recruitment software options. So she and her team developed their own software in-house. In 2010, McDougall spun Firefish out into a business in its own right with co-founder Andrew Mackay. It has grown from a two-person project to a 45-person, software business with clients in 26 countries worldwide and 30% growth year-on-year.

 

Current position

Chief Fish – I steer the boat at Firefish Software.

Any projects you would like to highlight that may not be in the public domain?

We’re in the process of launching a new area of our product that will make us the only recruitment software on the UK market that can offer recruitment websites that are built into your CRM.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

When I was a recruitment agency owner, I loved helping people develop their careers beyond where they thought they could go. Now that I am running a recruitment software business, I find that same pride in seeing so many of my own team who joined Firefish in entry-level positions, and who are now running their own functions and helping to drive the company forward.

What have you sought to change most in recruitment?

No one wants to be sold to any more – 78% of clients and candidates want to carry out their own independent research to get to know a recruitment business before taking a cold call. With Firefish, I’ve sought to change the way businesses recruit by giving them the tools that they need to attract in those clients and candidates and nurture lasting relationships that continue to generate more business.

What are your aims/ambitions?

We are the only independently led recruitment customer relationship management in the UK and have been seizing 20% market share every year. I aim to continue the buzz of beating the big guys and helping other small and medium-sized business owners achieve their business goals using Firefish.

When not innovating in the field of recruitment, what do you like doing?  

Wakeboarding, wake-surfing or paddle-boarding with family and friends on Loch Lomond – or sitting on the beach in Menorca with a huge gin and tonic!


2. Rebecca Foden

After roles at a number of financial institutions, Rebecca Foden moved to Transport for London (TfL) in 2016 where she spearheaded some of the recruitment sector’s most innovative diversity and inclusion (D&I) programmes. Diversity is in her veins, she says, and is proud to be a member of Resourcing Leaders 100 (RL 100), representing the 5% of ethnically diverse recruitment leaders.

 

Current position

Head of divisional resourcing for government services at Capita. I manage the permanent hiring for more than 3,000 hires per annum on some of the UK’s largest government contracts, from the Royal Navy’s personnel training to the Department for Work & Pensions’ Personal Independent Payments.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

As the head of talent acquisition and early careers and diversity hiring for Transport for London, I spent years disrupting processes to enable TfL to represent the diversity of the city it served. My team made a major contribution to reducing the gender pay gap for the first time by hiring women leaders. We also recruited and developed the pipeline of future leaders though a new youth brand, Your Next Move. This culminated in a great legacy, as the leaders whom the team hired kept London safe throughout the pandemic, supporting key workers. I’m also proud of the pop-up assessment centre I ran at a prison to hire ex-offenders. They have gone on to be hugely successful at TfL.

Any current projects you would like to highlight that might not be in the public domain?

At Capita, I’ve been helping to embed an off-shoring global delivery model in Mumbai, establishing recruitment transformation and technology and socially responsive resourcing programmes across a 10,000-member workforce. I am also helping to build an inclusive tech platform (Inclusive Careers) for the under-represented as a strategic product and brand adviser.

What have you sought to change most in recruitment?

I am on a mission to change the world with socially impactful resourcing. Organisations are under so much pressure right now, from prioritising inclusion in the midst of Black Lives Matters through to full-scale crisis leadership in the thrust of a global pandemic. I’m convinced more than ever that the success of the leadership team hired at TfL was a result of their diversity.

What are your aims/ambitions?

My ambition is to lead on the D&I and recruitment talent agenda for a values-driven organisation that aligns to an inclusive brand. I also want to give diverse recruiters a life and career hack so they can stay on course in their careers and don’t “squiggle”  the way that I once did.

What do you do when not innovating in recruitment?

I am either ideating on the product strategy for Inclusive Careers or blogging about diversity and career mastery for the under-represented. I’m a busy mum (momager of twins) and love adventure and travelling to far-flung places.


3. Lisa Scales

After a number of recruitment roles, Lisa Scales founded TribePad in 2008, which developed a next-generation applicant tracking system ahead of its time. She’s now back on the front line of talent acquisition, so expect her experiences to fuel more innovation.

 

 

Current position

I joined Nestlé last year as the head of talent acquisition for the UK & Ireland – it’s a brilliant role where you are part of the world’s largest food and beverage business. You are encouraged to be yourself, be entrepreneurial in thought and to innovate constantly.

Any current projects you would like to highlight that might not be in the public domain?

We are just scoping out some exciting work connecting candidate and consumer behaviours and how we can use this to make an impact on our work.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

Being the founder and creator of TribePad: from seeing a gap in the market, developing the idea and setting the business up all from my office at home – while on maternity leave – and leading it to become a multi-million-pound business. My girls were only one and three years old when I started TribePad 13 years ago, and I have continued to work full time ever since. They have flourished into exceptional young ladies with a great work ethic who see absolutely no barrier to doing whatever they want to do in life. My husband and I are continuously acting as role models in that we are on an equal footing in terms of career and home life.

“I struggle with recruiters/talent acquistion professionals who can’t align their work to the business strategy”

What have you sought to change most in recruitment?

Because I have come from a business background, I struggle when I hear recruiters/talent acquisition professionals who can’t articulate the importance of their work and align that to the overall business strategy. If you ever see me talking on a webinar/podcast or even at a conference, I talk in the language of business, not in the language of hiring, and I try to educate others on this.

What are your aims/ambitions?

I only joined Nestlé in the past year which, to be honest, has been a little strange given the global pandemic, but I do love my job and my immediate aims and ambitions are to continue to transform the talent acquisition function within Nestlé.

When not innovating in the field of recruitment, what do you like doing?

Lockdown saw us adding to our dog collection with Walter the cocker spaniel puppy, joining George and Missy. I spend a lot of time walking around the North Yorkshire countryside. I am a really early riser, so this is the perfect opportunity for me to get my podcast fix.


4. Alison Ettridge 

Alison Ettridge is a tour de force when it comes to making the world of recruitment wake up to the benefits of data. She founded Talent Intuition nearly nine years ago on a mission to make external human capital data as readily accessible as business intelligence. The company has just been included in JP Morgan Private Bank’s top 200 UK Female-Powered Businesses, and scooped a Women in Innovation Award 2020/21 from Innovate UK.

 

Current position

Chief believer and CEO, Talent Intuition, living the entrepreneur’s dream. Ultimately, I’m responsible for the scale-up of Talent Intuition and the commercial success of our strategic talent intelligence platform. I also lead the amazing team here, who are all brilliant and have curious minds, which is a challenge in itself.

Any current projects you would like to highlight that might not be in the public domain?

Although winning a Women in Innovation Award 2020/21 from Innovate UK is in the public domain, much of the project the grant will be used for is not. We anticipate looking at the flow of talent from university and across industries and geographies, and tracking exit points for women. We think understanding this flow and using this to make predictions could be really powerful in turning the dial on gender diversity.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

Being bold enough and brave enough to step away from corporate life (and a decent salary) in 2018. We have a really smart, client-focused team of 12 and I am proud of the work they deliver. Needless to say,  I am also proud of being a winner of the Women in Innovation Award 2020/21.

“I am passionate about helping businesses use talent intelligence to join the dots between skills,  diversity and geography”

What have you sought to change most in recruitment?

The reactive nature of recruitment drives a whole industry. Yet there is no reason for it to be so reactive. Companies can use workforce planning to plan smarter talent acquisition; recruiters (if given the time, scope and budget) can use data to challenge their business leaders and to identify a smarter workforce design.

What are your aims/ambitions?

I am passionate about helping businesses use talent intelligence to join the dots between skills, diversity and geography. I want to hit all our Innovate UK scaling targets and do a Series A raise in 2022. We are really pleased to be named in the top 200 UK Female-Powered Businesses, but next year I'd like to be in the top 50!

When not innovating in the field of recruitment, what do you like doing?

As any entrepreneur will tell you, there is no off button. But I have the most gorgeous husband and an amazing little girl and a variety of different four-legged creatures to keep me busy. Weekends are spent on the back of a horse or hauling a pony with a child on it.


5. Emma Mirrington 

Emma Mirrington realised the value of connecting recruiters and sharing knowledge early on. She joined The Forum for In-house Recruitment Managers (The FIRM) 2009, which was started as a LinkedIn group by in-house recruiter Gary Franklin in 2007. He left in 2014, which is when Mirrington left her position at Mars to focus on it full time. It has grown into one of the most supportive, collaborative and valued recruiting communities in the world, operating both online and off, with 8,800 members in 72 countries.

 

Current position and area of responsibility

Managing director of The FIRM – leading my team to develop, support, connect and inspire in-house recruiters everywhere.

Any projects you would like to highlight that might not be in the public domain?

We are focusing on developing hiring manager capability through a suite of recorded and live training modules, covering everything from unconscious bias through to assessment and selection. Freshly launched, it is proving popular, so watch this space.

“Most of our members end up in talent acquisition by accident and yet it can be the most fulfilling and enjoyable career”

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

I am proud that we have done a lot to support our community in these challenging times, in terms of running free monthly focus groups for those out of work, in order to connect them to opportunities and to others in a similar situation. We took more than 250 people through the focus group series and many have now landed roles.

What have you sought to change most in recruitment?

That talent acquisition should be seen as a destination career in its own right. More than 70% of our members end up in talent acquisition by accident and yet it can be the most fulfilling and enjoyable career that is full of so much variety. One day you are wearing a psychology hat and on another honing your project management skills.

What are your aims/ambitions?

That The FIRM is seen as the leading global membership organisation for talent acquisition folk that develops, supports, connects and inspires our members.

When not innovating in the field of recruitment, what do you like doing?

I am in the process of moving house, so my evenings and weekends are filled with packing boxes. I can’t wait to move into the new house, which is a bit of a project, and explore any interior design skills I may have.

Image credit | Shutterstock

Special Report - Abatec Recruitment undergoes an MBO

Richard Buchanan (above, left) and Rob Dyer (above, right) received their large

1 June 2021

Special Report - Rising levels of MBO activity

The global pandemic, in conjunction with speculation that capital gains tax will rise, has encour

1 June 2021

Special Report - Case Study: Contract Scotland

Doing an management buy-out is not something many buyers gain much experience in.

1 June 2021

Special Report - Contract Scotland: The seller

“The most important thing for me was legacy,” says Colin Woodward, who earlier this year handed o

1 June 2021
Top