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International Women’s Day: Hear from successful women at Hays

Posted By Courtney Lee, Hays Team Lead for Architecture and Design on Monday, Mar 5, 2018

Interview with Courtney Lee - International Women's DayFor International Women's Day, we are featuring stories from some of the successful women we have in Hays here in Canada. Sharing their story with Hays and expertise, they give their career insights and advice.

From Vancouver, here is what Courtney Lee, Team Lead for Architecture and Design, has to share about the career she built with Hays.

What was your progression into your leadership role with Hays?
My progression into a leadership role with Hays happened quite naturally. I started with Hays as an Associate Recruitment Consultant in October 2015 and since then have progressed up to Team Lead in an official leadership capacity, exactly two years later in October 2017. I started unofficially leading and managing a staff member in April 2017 prior to becoming a Team Lead when I was a Senior Recruitment Consultant.

Did you always aspire to reach a leadership role in your career?

Yes, I have always aspired to be in a leadership capacity in my career.

Have you encountered any gender-specific challenges or obstacles in your career?
Yes I have for sure. Having started my recruitment career recruiting construction professionals, it is a very male dominated environment. In some ways I felt that I had to work twice as hard to get the same results that my male counterparts did, with regards to getting respect from our male clients. During certain conventions/events that I participated during my career, I was routinely mistaken for being someone’s assistant. One person even went so far as to try to give me his coat to hang up! This is still sadly a reality of the working world, and as much as it is changing, it is not fully changed yet. I’ve found that despite those challenges, gender specific obstacles, and what some people may think, there is still the opportunity there for you to persevere and thrive.

How can women help women? Can you share any success stories?
Women can help women by empowering others to succeed. Last year, I helped start a “Women in Business: Breaking the Glass Ceiling” event with Megan in our Vancouver office. We started this event to support women in business across all industries. It was a successful event and focused on an important topic that is being talked about all over the world. We reprised the event this year and it grew in attendance, so much so, that we had to close registration for fear we would overflow the venue.

Women are more likely to than men to say they left their last employer because of company culture. What cultural changes or initiatives can employers make to better retain their female workforce? What have you seen work during your career?
I think the more opportunity and room for advancement there is in the work place, the better the culture and retention will be. I believe having equal opportunity and a level playing field will ultimately create the same potential career path for everyone. Whether or not a person grasps at that opportunity is their personal prerogative. I also think that taking the initiative to create your own opportunities within a company is also an empowering tool for women in business. Take my example of the “Women in Business: Breaking the Glass Ceiling” event. That is outside of my personal job description, but it was something that I felt was important and took on in addition to my own job. Opportunities should be presented by employers, but should also be created by women employees as well.

What is your advice for female professionals who are starting out their career and want to reach a leadership role?
Young females starting out in their career should not be surprised by the fact that, in certain situations, they are going to work twice as hard as others and that is just a reality of the world. I think that they should want to strive to be in a leadership role and don’t be afraid to do so. Be confident in your own abilities, believe in yourself, and don’t be afraid to voice your thoughts and opinions.

As a female recruiter, what advice would you give to employers on attracting and retaining women, and keeping them in the pipeline through the hiring process – from job ad to offer? Are there common mistakes you see, or best practices you’d like more companies to embrace?

A large way to hire and attract female employees to work for a company is to have positive female leaders within the company already. Invest in your current female leaders within the business and empower them to be role models for those female employees coming in. A potential idea could be starting a mentorship program within the women in the company.. An advice I’d give to companies would be that they should become/remain aware of the gender diversity that still exists in the current work force and the challenges that exist with it. Potential gender existing problems cannot be fixed unless everyone is aware of them.

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