This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreaktheBias, encouraging women around the world to highlight the bias that women face in day-to-day life. It’s a day to celebrate women’s achievements of the past, present and future and was first recognised by the United Nations in 1975.

Sales and recruitment are sometimes viewed as male dominated industries, however at Athona we’re proud that two thirds of our Directors are female and we have a strong female footprint throughout the organisation.

We sat down with some of Athona’s female leaders to find out more about their experiences and get some of their tips for women in business.

With 30 years’ recruitment experience, 15 of those at Athona, Jeanette has a wealth of knowledge and industry insight. Jeanette strongly believes in empowering her team with consistent learning and development.

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

I am inspired by women in the public eye like the American politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she hasn’t taken the easiest path and has instead followed her moral compass. However, my role models are the women I have shared my life with. At age 30, my mum worked full time, had three children under five and did an education psychology degree. My best friend is a female senior leader in the police, she’s fair, kind and uses her intelligence to support every decision she takes.

Why is it important that you work for a company that promotes female leadership?

Women often think and communicate differently, this has been proven time and time again in every industry sector. I believe it gives a depth to the way a company acts.

What advice would you share to young women at the start of their career?

Don’t change your personality to reach your career goals. I have seen women (and men) promoted to senior roles and then change the way they behave, thinking they have to be a different person. It’s important to remember that the way you act now is why you were promoted. You will make mistakes, admit them, own them and learn from them. If you can, help those around you to achieve their ambitions, it isn’t always an easy role, but try to be honest with yourself and stand up for what you believe, there are no bad ideas.

Laura has worked for Athona since 2014 and is the driving force behind our company ethos of Affecting Futures. Laura is passionate about HR and affecting the futures of all Athona’s employees.

How have you helped to break gender bias?

We have a female-friendly culture with a large number of women in senior positions at Athona. This is supported by having equal opportunities across the business, right from the recruitment of our employees and having structured interviews and assessments, through to promotional opportunities and a transparent career development framework; therefore bridging any gender pay gaps particularly within sales.

In addition to this, both men and women can request flexible working to support a better work-life balance.

How can women develop their own leadership skills?

Take up any training opportunities, particularly those that are focused on mentoring women. They should also feel encouraged to manage important projects and use their confidence to lead teams successfully.

What advice would you share to young women at the start of their career?

Always consider yourself an equal. Be confident in your ability to do the job in hand and challenge any bias you feel.

Rebecca joined Athona in 2009 as a Recruitment Consultant, quickly her strong determination and results-driven success shone through. In 2016, Rebecca was promoted to Director of Psychiatry and joined Athona’s leadership team.

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

I don’t think there is any one individual, I have had the pleasure of working with some very talented people throughout my career who have inspired me and motivated me to always achieve more and set the bar high. I have always taken the qualities from them I admire most and tried to incorporate them in how I work, alongside my own values.

If you started your career again, is there anything you would have done differently?

There isn’t anything I would do differently I don’t think. I have worked hard throughout my career and have always been ambitious to succeed and be the best I can be. That’s not to say I haven’t made mistakes or wrong choices, but I have always seen those as an opportunity to learn and improve my skills going forward. I see this as a really important part of development. I still learn new things all the time and I’m excited that this is the case so I can continue to develop and progress in my career. I’m not done yet!

What advice would you share to young women at the start of their career?

Be confident in your own abilities! So many people at the start of their careers sell themselves short or don’t believe in what could be possible. Focus on your career goals, don’t get distracted and believe in what you can achieve. Work hard to make it happen!

Tanya is the Director of Athona’s Acute division and with 15 years’ experience, she’s a specialist in her field. Tanya leads a large team and is a hands-on Director, ensuring that everyone feels supported and focused.

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

My dad, he’s always taught me to do the best I can, that anything is achievable and not to let anyone stand in my way. He also taught me that all of the above comes with hard work and that nothing comes easy but if you want something then set your sights on it and go for it. The one thing he’d always say to me when growing up was “2nd isn’t 1st”.

Have you faced any challenges during your career?

There are always challenges through life, some tougher than others, but it’s how you deal with them. I always try to work through and learn from them.

What advice would you share to young women at the start of their career?

Don’t lower your standards for anyone. Everyone makes mistakes, don’t let them hinder you, but always learn from them.

Danielle started at Athona in the reception team but soon moved over to compliance. She excelled and was promoted to Compliance Manager and more recently moved into the position of Audit Manager. Danielle ensures that Athona maintains its reputation for compliance excellence.

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

My mum is definitely my biggest inspiration. For my whole life she has set an example, teaching me how to live life and make the best choices, even in the most uncertain circumstances. She is a ray of positivity and is always there to make you realise there is always a solution, no matter how hard it may seem (& always has a cup of tea waiting for me).

What support have you received during your career?

I have worked at Athona for almost 10 years now. Since the start, the management team have always been supportive and really take a personal interest in your career goals and where you want to see yourself. There are constant workshops on offer from the HR and leadership team to promote and support professional growth.

What advice would you share to young women at the start of their career?

My advice would be don’t be afraid to ask questions, there is no such thing as a silly question – your voice is just as important as everyone else’s.

If you’re looking for a company that supports women in business and leadership, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with the team today or apply to our latest vacancies.