Dominic Grudzien, joint managing partner of Harrison Scott Associates, reflects on the need for full equality of the sexes, but says there is a marked change of attitude towards women.
The industry has undergone a radical overhaul over the last ten years with tremendous technological developments and modern working practices, but there is one great bastion that needs to be fully overcome before it is truly a modernised industry fit for the Millennium.
That is in the barrier to full sex equality in the corridors of power. However, perhaps at last the wind of change is blowing more strongly.
When analysing recruitment for clients, the split in the current financial year is 92% male and 8% female, compared to 97% male and 3% female in the previous year. This figure has been increasing year in, year out. It is noticeable that these increases have been paramount in the direct mail, stationery and packaging sectors as opposed to the commercial print sector.
Over the 13 years we have been recruiting, there has been a marked attitude change towards women in the industry. In fact, it is becoming more and more the case, though not permitted, that some companies ask us to recruit female sales executives only, and this is further confirmed via talking with other search and selection consultancies.
The increase has come in sales and marketing and there is now an ever increasing number of women in key influential positions, for example: Sue Cullen, customer services director of WBF; Mary Nagle, director of Keldia; Denise Moran, director of direct mail at Chorleys; Kim Naylor, sales director of Philip Myers; Julie Turner, national sales manager of The Stationery Office and many others.
If you ask any of these women how they arrived at where they are today the answer, in the main, will probably be that they started on the bottom rung of the ladder and worked their way up. What is more, they had to prove themselves twice as hard as men.
The number of females in relatively junior positions has increased, and over the next few years they will advance and balance out the inequality at the top. More people in telesales and less external people mean more ground level positions for females to enter the industry. Our belief must always be first in the recognition of women in the workplace.
Let us be honest, women are more capable of being far more multifaceted than men; that has always been the case in the home and is now being proven in business.