Let’s dive in…
We asked Jo Jewitt, our People Director and D&I lead what her biggest challenge has been in the D&I side of her role, and the biggest reward. We also got her first hand insight into our methods of empowering women in the workplace and ensuring our policies and practices are equal across all genders.
“Intersectionality is something I’m thinking about a lot, no two people have the same experiences when it comes to discrimination or oppression. Building initiatives and frameworks that support and encourage inclusion across multiple demographics is challenging but not impossible. The key is focusing on inclusion first and bringing together diverse groups to help build, shape and support your strategy.
In terms of a rewarding aspect, people wanting to be involved and help us to continue to move the needle when it comes to D&I makes me happy. I’m constantly being approached by people in the business about ideas for new D&I initiatives or expressing an interest in being involved in our next project. This is what it’s all about for me. D&I isn’t about HR setting out strategies and updating the board twice a year about what boxes we’ve ticked or targets we’ve hit. It’s about creating an inclusive workplace, where everyone feels supported, listened to and valued. An environment where people feel safe to challenge and suggest change, so we can continue being progressive.
In regard to empowering women and being a supportive employer without bias, if you want to create equality at work you need to make sure everyone has the same opportunities. This starts from day one. We make sure everyone has a similar onboarding experience; it’s never the exact same process as everyone is individual and comes with different skills and experience but there are some core sessions that everyone gets exposure to. We then ensure that targets and progression plans are fair and transparent, this is a big challenge for us though! We pride ourselves on being an organization that doesn’t set unnecessary blanket KPIs and allows everyone to follow their own passions and build their own bespoke development plans. So ensuring everything is equal takes time and it’s definitely not the easy option but it’s something we don’t compromise on. It’s things like this that ensure women at Orbis can achieve whatever they want.”
Lucy Rackham, our Operation Manager, gave us the scoop on her top tips on colleague relations and workplace harmony…
“I like to treat every member of staff regardless of grade all the same. I try to get to know every member of staff, their interests and homelife etc, and make a conscious effort to chat with everyone regarding both work and things outside of it. I also get to get to know the person and personalities so I can pick up if there are any issues or if anything is wrong. (The Mum of the office approach works well). I like every member of staff to be comfortable to approach me and discuss any issues or concerns. I think for workplace harmony the best thing is to deal with any issues straight away, if you nip things in the bud then there is no room for conflict and employees are always happy in the workplace.”
Hannah Roue, our global Senior Marketing Manager is at the helm of our Media and Community brand Host, so we asked her about being a woman and a leader… What have the hurdles been, and what are the highlights?
“A hurdle I encounter regularly as a female leader, let alone a woman in the workplace, is the constant judgments made about my empathetic style of leadership. Having human emotions is often perceived as weakness or as a sin, rather than passion and authenticity. Apparently I’m not clever, or don’t adopt advanced social skills. But at difficult times, my mentors remind me to retain my skills and my unique leadership ethic.
The best days are spent experiencing women’s empowerment in the workplace, either through male colleagues celebrating our work or my fellow female colleagues standing their ground and supporting one another.
As a society, we have come so far, but there are still daily challenges for us to navigate through. Don’t forget your strength.”
Our Senior Global Talent Partner Dani Barkeley is a Globetrotter, talent sourcing master and personal brand boss… we wanted to know her secrets to independence and overcoming fears.
“Prior to moving to NYC, I couldn’t be alone. I hated my own company and literally always had to be busy doing something. I also relied heavily on my ‘safety blanket’ and the ability to just go home when times were tough so when moving to a new country with no friends or on the ground support, I had to learn to be comfortable in my own company and face difficult situations alone.
Ultimately this taught me how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, gave me a new sense of confidence and simply made me grow up.
My secret was purposely making myself uncomfortable and embracing change.
For example, I would NEVER go for food alone or go sightseeing alone especially in a place I didn’t know so I made a conscious effort to do this weekly.”
We asked Consultant Beth Spacey to look to the future, and let us in on her biggest career ambition, and where she’d like to go without limits.
“My biggest career ambition is to be my own boss and founder of my own company. Now I know that sounds like everybody’s biggest career ambition, but it is true! Alongside my current position as a Consultant within Orbis I use every minute of my spare time working on my ‘side hustle’ – A business idea I have had for the last year and a half in an industry I am extremely passionate about.
I have always been super career focused, and my family always laugh and say I try to run before I can walk. I think part of the fun of getting to where you want to be is the limits that are in front of you. It’s almost like the universe is testing you and saying ‘Do you actually want this goal?’ or ‘Prove to me you can do it’. The challenge is part of the fun and as my parents said to me growing up ‘If it were easy, everybody would be able to do it’.”
Senior Consultant Abi Fernandez told us about the key to confidence, especially in a job where networking and relationships are crucial.
“For me, the key to confidence especially in this job is knowledge, credibility, transparency, and personality. Knowledge is understanding your service and your product, credibility is being confident and showcasing understanding while personality allows you to be human and this is crucial when building relationships in a service-based industry.”
Abbie Morbin: How important is a welcoming and friendly company culture?
Melica: If you could give one piece of advice, what would you say to women experiencing doubt, lack of confidence or imposter syndrome at work?
Associate Consultant Georgia Wade who came to us through a placement year, reflected on the most important lesson she’s learned in the world of work…
“The importance of connection; whether this is through friends made at work or simply connections on LinkedIn. Everyone in your professional network and personal life can bring such value to you. If you actively try to help people, then I like to think that one day if you need help, the favor will be returned. Great success comes from working with other people, getting fresh perspectives, hearing new ideas and opinions. You learn so much from others, so keep connecting with people.”
Over in our Nashville office, Consultant Lizzie Blizzard pondered whether there’s such a thing as ‘having it all’, and told us about the importance of work life balance.
“‘Having it all’ means something different to everyone. It’s easy to get caught up in what having it all should look like instead of what you want it to look like or what genuinely suits you.
A quote by Jean Chatzy that I like to reflect on is ‘It’s not about having it all. It’s about having what you value most.’
Work life balance is so important for your mental health and to be truly present in all that you’re doing, both professionally and personally. For me, it means making a positive impact at work while still having time to prioritize things outside of work that bring me joy, such as hiking with my dog, spending time with friends and family, and reading.”
Clare Struthers is the Director of our new Glasgow Office and Candidate Hub, and we asked her about resilience. How important is it in a career, and what’s her experience with it. Clare shared an impactful story of overcoming setbacks and recognising how you can improve.
“I would probably say resilience is the top of the tree for a woman in a leadership role, or even in a junior role trying to reach leadership. Well, it has been for me all the way through my career.
I’d say throughout my life all the stumbling blocks, challenges and downright difficulties have helped shape the woman I am today, and all the accolades and wins I’ve had. Without the setbacks I genuinely don’t feel I would have been a success; however, this is only true because I have an attitude that seeks out ‘what was the lesson I was to learn here’.
Any setback I have encountered has spurred a positive reaction or change in my situation or attitude. Especially if a situation continues to reappear in a different team or work environment; I’m the constant so you quickly realize that it means you need to look inside to understand why the issue reappears time after time. Only you can own it and address the symptom to correct the outcome or initialize the change. Change is tough but allows you to go forward.
Our copywriting partner Claire Stapley is what she calls a ‘digital nomad’ working freelance with clients all over the world, constantly on the move and in exotic locations. We wanted to know how this lifestyle is empowering and when it can be scary, particularly for a woman.
“Traveling alone is one of the most (if not THE most) empowering things I have ever done. It’s also made me realize that although there are a lot of things that are unsafe for women to do alone, you’d be surprised at how welcoming and warm other countries and cultures are. I’ve felt safer in some of the most rural corners of the world than I have in the streets of London – and I think that comes as a surprise to people sometimes.
The times it can be scary is when you haven’t adapted to your surroundings yet. I’ve found that the best way to mitigate that is to immediately familiarize yourself with the locals and make an effort to be friends with them. It will make your life so much easier and you won’t be sitting in a western bubble the whole time.
For context, when I got to Sri Lanka I was in Colombo, which at night isn’t safe. The first day or so it was disorientating, but I quickly became friends with my Airbnb host. Not only did she give me a proper tour of the city (and invite me to dinner with her family) but she made me realize that just like any place – there are safe and unsafe parts.”
Consultant Laurel Gendler spoke to us about some positive examples of women supporting other women in the workplace.
“I personally have felt very supported by women at work, being so early in my career at Orbis. Some of the ladies here have really made me feel comfortable and spoke to me about what they experienced when starting out in the role. More senior women at Orbis have gone beyond by offering advice and reaching out to make sure I have all the tools and knowledge to succeed. This has been very important for me and has certainly made sure that I have felt involved, safe and happy since starting.
I feel that women often look out for other women because in a male dominated environment, they understand it can sometimes be quite daunting when starting out in a new role.”
Jade Whitaker, also from our Glasgow office, has recently returned to work after maternity leave, and gave us some insights on the challenges involved in this process, and some great pointers for businesses on supporting working mums.
“I knew I’d be looking for a new role after maternity leave and was nervous about being in recruitment as a working mum, as in my previous company there was nobody in that position. I spoke to other recruitment agencies and my biggest challenge was that they were reluctant to offer flexibility or part-time hours to new starts. They wanted me to work 6 months and prove myself before I was able to use flexitime or reduce my hours. There’s a stigma with working mums, it’s very old school.
When Clare Struthers at Orbis called me, I was instantly interested. As a returning-to-work mum herself she understood my needs as a mother (and my son’s), which I felt other agencies didn’t. Orbis was open to me coming in and proving myself from the off-set rather than over 6 months. I now work 10-5, go collect my son from nursery, bathe him, feed him, and I am there for bedtime. I then log back online whilst he’s asleep and finish my hours. Being able to be there when my son wakes up and goes to bed is massive.
I’m also a breastfeeding Mum, and I can pump in a private office at work and have the support of my manager to take time for this if required. The best way I’ve been supported was by feeling understood by the company and manager. I’ve also never worked in a company with so many females in leadership roles, especially mothers; role models. On one of my first days Dani reached out to me asking about my son, maternity leave and talked about how exceptional Orbis had been with her pregnancy. It’s refreshing to see a modern day company not just being open to working mothers but encouraging them to succeed professionally, promoting them into senior roles and influencing others.