What is it really like to be a woman recruiter in a male dominated field? In one of my first jobs, I got a crash course in “the good ol’ boys club.” I worked at a recruiting firm filling high-profile finance positions. I quickly learned that being young and a female meant I had to work at least twice as hard as everyone else to be taken seriously–– both by the candidates I was recruiting and by my firm’s leadership.
It was intimidating, but I persisted, standing my ground with older male candidates. They might be a VP at UBS or Goldman Sachs, but I insisted they treat me as an equal partner in their job search. After all, I was helping them: yes, they did need to come to meetings at my office and answer my calls. But even as I built a track record of successful placements, I felt frustrated and demoralized at times. My gender shouldn’t matter if I were great at my job, but too often it did.
Not only did I have to prove myself continually to the candidates I recruited, but I also faced a toxic workplace culture. From the inappropriate office jokes to the complete lack of positive female leadership at our company, the firm was squarely stuck in a “good ol’ boys” mentality. I was viewed as “less than” by my male peers, even though I did twice as many contract deals as anyone else on my team.
The Power of Female Mentors & Allies
Connecting with other women in recruiting changed everything. I found tremendous allies – women who served as role models and mentors, boosting my confidence to demand better for my career. One of my most important mentors, Lindsey Webb, is also one of my closest friends today. When she joined Lucas Group and returned to her hometown of Houston, Texas, she encouraged me to come, too.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that joining Lucas Group changed my life. I went from being ripped on by my male colleagues to being respected as an equal and recognized for my performance. Here, women are fairly represented in managerial roles and company leadership. When an organization has strong female leadership, company culture reflects this. At Lucas Group, we’re building an inclusive, supportive culture where we champion each other’s wins. Watching other women succeed because of their talent and hard work gave me a huge confidence boost.
A decade ago, I experienced discrimination and a toxic workplace culture simply for being a woman. My story is hardly unique: as the #MeToo movement highlighted, millions of women around the world have similar experiences. The impact of the #MeToo movement is more than just powerful men being held accountable for their actions. In the workplace, it’s a message that women are heard, understood and believed. We’re thinking differently about power, too: who has it, who doesn’t, and who tries to control it. Company culture is shifting; we’re refusing to tolerate the “good ol’ boys” mentality. My old firm, for example, no longer exists.
Of course, there’s always room for growth. Company culture hasn’t caught up everywhere. I still run into the occasional client who takes me straight back to the early days of recruiting. But it’s different now: surrounded by allies and supported by strong women leaders, I’m able to pay it forward as a partner for other women as they build their careers.