SThree is dedicated to offering its employees a career with no limits. What does this mean? It means that we offer our employees the opportunity to work anywhere within the SThree Group, and to take a lead role in growing their own career.
But we can’t do this unless we offer a truly inclusive workplace. Promoting real Diversity and Inclusion remains one of the key focus areas of our global strategy, a commitment that comes from the top down.
Part of that focus includes having Diversity and Inclusion champions and sponsors across our entire global reach. We spoke to Mary Kay, the Diversity and Inclusion Champion for SThree brand Real Staffing in London, who was just named a WeAreTheCity Top 100 Rising Star, about her role and what needs to be done to create a truly inclusive work environment.
What does being “champion” mean?
“It’s my job to raise awareness of diversity within SThree and come up with new ideas to make it a more inclusive work environment. Basically, I’m the eyes and ears of our front office consultants. I’m acting as a link between my colleagues and the board passing on their insights on what needs to be changed, how they’re feeling and what they want to see implemented.
“I believe that it’s on the ground where change really happens and that it sometimes only takes a couple of people to spark that change,” says Mary.
Many in the Diversity and Inclusion field have an HR background. With a sales background, Mary who joined SThree five years ago as a consultant for Real Staffing brings something different. Today she’s not only managing a team of seven who are mostly women, but is also actively involved in making a difference for women in the business world and within the life sciences industry in particular.
“One of the reasons why I joined SThree back in the day was that my Manager David Curtis told me that it’s a company committed to supporting women in building a successful career. David was also the one who put me forward for the Rising Star Award and presented me with the opportunity to become a Diversity Champion. He’s a great example of a manager who really supports diversity and I’m forever grateful for the doors he opened for me.”
Mary has always been interested in the topic of diversity and gender equality and can now see first-hand the change which is happening within the company.
“I’ve noticed that more women, who work for SThree, are staying with the company and starting a family while working here, and they’re also feeling an increased sense of pride in their work and demanding more from their employer,” says Mary.
This becomes especially evident in terms of the incentives recruitment consultants traditionally have access to: “Women are asking for more choice in the type of incentives available. It’s not about taking the fun out; it’s about offering more alternatives. In Germany they introduced a new way of incentivising employees offering them a menu where they can chose from a variety of activities including the option to upgrade, save things for later and involve their partners and families,” explains Mary.
Hardwire inclusion into SThree’s philosophy
Mary says she already sees a lot of positive developments and programmes being realised at SThree, whether it’s a family fun day to allow socialising and networking outside of the work environment or further developing the company’s Mentoring Programme.
“SThree are pursuing a range of ways to ensure that inclusion is hardwired into the company philosophy and practice. They’re currently looking into starting ‘Women Groups’ which will identify key methods to both retain and attract more female talent. There is also talk about building societies to support specific minority groups such as LGBT; and let’s not forget our fantastic Maternity Buddy Scheme.”
But while Mary noticed the positive changes in the industry to make the concept of diversity a reality, she acknowledges that there’s still a long way to go.“I think the biggest problem is that organisations don’t always understand that women might face different challenges than men. They might find it harder to be heard in an important meeting and are more likely to wait for a promotion while their male counterparts are actively asking for one. It’s important that organisations raise awareness of these issues and support their female employees in empowering themselves.”
Recognition for diversity efforts
Mary’s hard work has recently been recognised by being named a WeAreTheCity Top 100 Rising Star, an award which recognises the contributions women from across the UK make to their organisations and to the wider community.
“I am so grateful and proud to have won this! I joined SThree at the age of 20 and have loved my time here. I am so lucky to work for a company who are proud of its female employees and will promote them both internally and externally”, says Mary.
As the only staffing organisation, SThree has also been awarded a place in the Times Top 50 Employers for Women, 2014 and 2015, and SThree CEO Gary Elden has won the Black Businessman of the Year Award as well as just recently has been awarded an OBE for his achievements to Diversity in Business in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List.
What the future holds
Mary is dedicated to making a true difference to diversity within SThree. “Our goal is to create a workplace where people feel comfortable in sharing their unique opinions and where everyone’s voice is heard. SThree is already a diverse place in so many ways, now it’s time to fully understand that. Let’s make SThree both a great place to work and a great place to build your career – regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, background or however you identify yourself.
“We’re on an important journey and I’m really motivated by this, by making a difference in an area that I am passionate about,” Mary concludes.
If you want to find out more about what we’re doing to enable people to have a career with no limits, explore the Diversity and Inclusion section on our website.