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An Interview with Charlotte Rigby, Associate Director

06 March 2018

by Jessica Williams

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In the run up to International Women’s Day 2018, we’re highlighting the achievements of the most inspiring women at Oliver James. Today, we’re talking to Charlotte Rigby, Associate Director. 

In this exclusive interview, Charlotte discusses what success means to her as a prominent female figure within the business, how her team has pledged to support Diversity and Inclusion in the finance market, and what all of this means for her future at Oliver James…

Thanks for joining us today Charlotte. First of all, we’d love to hear your thoughts on why it’s so important for companies to demonstrate gender parity in their hiring strategies.

Gender disparity is putting a lot of companies under the microscope, as we have seen from recent conversation about the gender pay gap. Disclosures from companies with over 250 employees has led to businesses of all sizes taking a hard look at their company makeup. Gender parity is not only a priority, it’s public knowledge, and companies failing to address this may actually be creating a reason not to join their businesses. Of course, pay gaps also uncover broader problems at organisation level, where people are not only being underpaid, but systemically underrepresented. All of these factors need to be addressed as hiring agendas are becoming more diverse and inclusive.  

Companies may feel exposed, but this exposure has facilitated a move in the right direction. Ultimately for me, it’s all about accountability and clarity – demonstrating that you’ve not only recognised the imbalances within your business, but that you’re taking steps to correct them. There’s still a way to go, but we have a springboard for further change, and that is key.

How is your market responding to calls for greater equality?

A number of the markets we operate within are traditionally male-dominated. Our clients are aware of this, and are working proactively to put measures in place that remove unconscious biases within their hiring programmes. We have a number of clients that routinely ask for names to be removed from CVs, for example. Some clients don’t even want to know current packages to ensure they’re paying the individual their true worth, rather than just an increase on what they’re currently being paid.

I place senior management and board-level professionals, and I am often alarmed by the gender pay disparity. Removing core salary and gender information has, in some cases, eliminated this challenge, as the client is guided on ability rather than earnings. However, this is by no means a one-size-fits-all solution.

What can businesses do to press for progress in this area?

From a recruitment perspective, more businesses can implement anonymised shortlisting, as we have seen clients gain real success from that. Transparency is also important. It’s not uncommon for businesses to have an issue in this area, but acknowledging and addressing it for your workforce is an important first step in driving female representation. Who are your empowered women? Find them and encourage them to be advocates for your brand. They are figures of inspiration for rest of workforce, and symbolic of a strong pipeline for future female leaders. There are plenty of male advocates for gender parity too. Just recently, I met the CIO of a large global insurance company, and he was the in-house equality advocate, so this figure doesn’t have to be a woman, just someone with gravitas.

How can Oliver James support businesses with their D&I programmes?

We are heavily invested in encouraging D&I best practice both internally and externally, so our workforce and clients can adopt a diverse perspective when hiring. As such, Oliver James has implemented a number of initiatives, such as training our consultants to understand the importance of D&I, and supporting our clients in avoiding unconscious biases. We have rolled out training externally to various clients, working on site with them to examine unconscious biases in their hiring culture. Opportunities such as this have enabled us to delve deeper into the cultures that drive our client businesses, increasingly positioning us as a strategic partner concerned with holistic workforce planning. It’s important for me as a leader of multiple teams within Oliver James that we help to create sophisticated D&I strategies for companies of all sizes and in various sectors.

What does success mean to you?

I’ve always been driven by moving forward, making sure whatever position I’m in has a clear vision for the future. I like to know what is expected of me, what I want to achieve personally and what my team wants to achieve. Then it’s about putting the stepping stones in place to stay on track in realising them. It’s really important to me that the team is happy, valued and contributing, as collaboration is essential for continued performance.

Another important measure of success for me is having the confidence to back yourself. I think as women we sometimes question ourselves on whether we’re doing a good job. Every leadership style is unique, so it’s about acknowledging the value in your own methodology. Fortunately, I work in an environment that empowers me to do well, which makes success more tangible.

Who are your female role models?

One of my role models is Sheryl Sandberg, ex-Google and current COO of Facebook. She has a strong mind for business first and foremost, but she’s also a proud, successful woman who uses her reputation and position for good. Just look at her Lean In foundation – a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping women across the globe achieve their goals. Her philosophy is being replicated in the business world too, with hundreds of companies vowing to address gender inequality and biases through focus groups that keep the conversation alive. That sort of impact is inspiring to me.

Where do you see yourself going within OJ?

Oliver James is becoming a global force in recruitment, and being part of the leadership team during a significant growth phase is really exciting. In the two years I’ve been here, my role has expanded rapidly, and I look forward to continuing this journey.

To learn more about Oliver James, please contact Charlotte Rigby on +44 (0) 161 694 0831, or charlotte.rigby@ojassociates.com.

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