Recruiter on the 'fundamental difference' between male and female candidates

Doug Woodburn
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Recruiter on the 'fundamental difference' between male and female candidates

Women much less likely to put themselves forward for roles unless they tick every attribute needed and more, Nurole founder and CRN Women in Channel judge Susie Cummings tells CRN

The reluctance of women to apply for roles for which they don't tick all the required competencies has contributed to gender imbalance in the boardroom, according to a recruitment boss who has placed over 750 candidates during her career.

Susie Cummings, who is founder and CEO of digital board recruitment platform Nurole, told CRN that she had observed a "fundamental difference" between male and female candidates during her 30-year career.

"Men will put themselves forward for any role, whether they meet the required and desired competencies or not," explained Cummings (pictured).

"Whereas women will only put themselves forward if they tick all the boxes and more. They just don't seem to have the belief that they are ready and experienced enough."

Backing this up, one study asking women to rate their performance after taking a maths test showed that they overestimated their score by an average of 15 per cent. Men, however, overestimated their score by 30 per cent.*

Cummings, who is a judge for CRN's Women in Channel awards, placed around 500 candidates during a 30-year career as a headhunter, before setting up Nurole in 2014. Nurole has since placed more than 250 candidates at the firms and headhunters that use its platform, which claims to reinvent headhunting for the digital age.

Just 29 per cent of FTSE board positions are currently held by females, while the recent BBC pay saga has raised fresh questions over gender pay discrimination.

In our industry, some 86 per cent of top executives at the UK's top 50 resellers are men.

Cummings said she was hopeful the current focus on female representation in the boardroom and gender pay gaps will give women the confidence to "push themselves forward for more money and more roles".

"Now it's all come out in the open, I'm hoping that going forward you won't find the kind of examples I used to come across in the past," she said.

"Only three years ago, I was talking to a very senior woman who was consistently paid less than [a man] doing the same job, but probably not quite as well and who wasn't bringing in as many revenues. I said she had to make a scene, but she didn't want to in case it became public and she would be seen as a troublemaker. That sort of fear, that women will be seen as a troublemaker, or get tainted with being difficult, is historically why they are not pushier. Emmeline Pankhurst would not have been proud.

"But I really hope that now it's out in the public, and women are being encouraged to stand up for themselves, that they will hopefully no longer be underpaid. I think that will become a thing of the past."

Cummings said she harbours mixed feelings on the gender pay gap data all UK firms with over 250 staff were forced to divulge by 5 April, saying the numbers are skewed by the fact there are fewer women in senior roles.

"Those numbers look pretty shocking because there are so few women at senior level," she said. "What we've really got to focus on is getting more senior women at board level. Diversity is no longer a nice to have; it's a requirement. If you get more women at board level, these are the role models, and that will have a big impact on closing that gender pay gap."

*Grayson Perry, The Descent of Man

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