IWD 2024: Investing in our women

IWD 2024: Investing in our women

Sewell Wallis is a female-owned business that actively works on building a work environment where everyone can flourish, and investing in women and their futures is something our team believes is vitally important.

We hire women

Our workforce is over 75% women; this isn’t by design, but due to being a female-led business, we do seem to attract more women. Our doors are, obviously, open to all those interested in working for us, but we offer benefits that a lot of women are looking for in a role: fully hybrid working, with the ability to work from wherever suits you, flexible hours to allow you to work around yours and your family’s needs, mental health and wellness support, menopause support and a generous maternity leave policy. Ou leadership team are all trained in mental health first aid, which helps us create an environment where people share their stresses and are open if they’re struggling.

We upskill women

We offer the ability to develop and progress to every employee within our business, but we work with a lot of women who have struggled to progress in other recruitment environments. We empower women to work the way they want to, and structure their own days, setting targets based around their long term goals. We provide regular one-to-ones and check-ins, offer a range of training, and ensure we’re checking in with our employees to make sure we’re all still on the right track.

We promote women and drive their careers

Chloe Wilford is a shining example of the ways in which we invest in women.

Chloe joined us as a temporary finance consultant in 2017, and by 2019 was promoted to senior, working the transactional and part-qualified market. In 2021, she was promoted again to Business Manager, leading her own team for the first time, and at the end of last year, we made her our first Associate Director.

We asked her a few questions about her new role, the path she’s forged here at Sewell Wallis, and her experiences over the years.

How are you settling into your new role as Associate Director?

It was amazing to be promoted to the business’ first Associate Director role. It still feels a little bit surreal! I’ve been given the freedom to be myself and put my own stamp on the way I work; I get to be relaxed with my clients and candidates and make it more about building relationships and forward planning as opposed to where my next fee is coming from. A lot of the other recruitment businesses I’ve worked in want to mould you into their exact way of working, and that’s not been my experience at Sewell Wallis. I’m thankful for the mentoring I’ve received from the leadership team and being given the opportunity to progress, which wasn’t my experience in my previous workplace.

How has your role changed since your promotion?

A lot of managers in recruitment tend to stop recruiting, focusing in on more managerial responsibilities, but I can confidently say I don’t think I’ll ever give it up, I love it too much! I manage the transactional finance team, support and directly work with the rest of the directorial team, and I still run a busy desk. My focus has shifted since last year and I now focus on the part-qualified and qualified finance market, both temp and perm, across West and North Yorkshire.

My specialism has always been temporary recruitment, so the permanent side of things has been a learning curve, but I’ve had really good guidance from the rest of the team. I love transactional finance, I’ve worked in it myself and recruited into it for over 7 years, but it feels like the right time to hand it on to the team and let them make their mark!

What’s it like, managing a team and juggling all of the different personalities?

I was always quite apprehensive about moving into management, but with just over 2 years’ experience doing it, I can say I really do enjoy it. I was wary of it because I know that a good manager can make or break someone’s career – it’s a lot of responsibility. I’ve worked under some managers over the years who have that really old-school, micro-management approach to leadership, which stunted my growth and suffocated me. At Sewell Wallis, there’s nobody constantly looking over your shoulder, we’re trusted to do our jobs. I wanted to allow people to be themselves, to drive their development and give them a manager they could rely on, and I’d like to think they’re qualities I embody! I have to adapt, and be open minded. I’ve tried to create a safe space for everyone in my team, in the sense that their unique ways of working and their interests are accepted without judgement, and we can plan to use their strengths to their benefit in their longer term career plans. I invest my time in my team, and in return, I get a team that gel well, support each other, and lean on each other’s strengths.

What’s the support been like from your managers?

I can’t thank Sue, Lucy and Kayley enough for how much they have invested in me throughout my time here.

If I look back through my career with Sewell Wallis and through each promotion, I was set clear targets and goals that I needed to hit to be promoted and I was given heaps of support throughout. With each promotion came a transition period to include further responsibilities to reflect my new role, but again all was made clear and included regular check-in’s and reviews with Lucy to ensure that I was ‘on track’.

I have always felt valued and listened to; from being at other recruitment agencies prior to my time here, and through recruiting further people into my team and hearing their experience with other recruiters, I know how rare it is to find a place like Sewell Wallis.

Lucy has always taken the time to understand me as a person. She just knows what makes me tick, what motivates me, what I want out of my career, and really does try to push me to make it all happen. I feel extremely lucky.

They also ensure that we are given regular training; I had Management training in 2021 to set me up for the start of my managerial role in 2022, we had diversity and inclusion training in 2023 and the managers are due to go on another mental health training course this year, not to mention other training that is planned for this year that is supplied to everyone in the business.

Chloe now focuses on all Part-Qualified positions across Yorkshire, working with those who are part-way through their studies towards ACCA, CIMA and ACA. She also supports with those who are qualified by experience and can comfortably help with permanent roles, and temporary or interim assignments.

Her team is now responsible for anything within Transactional Finance; contact Suliman Mahmood for temporary, contract or temp-to-perm support, and Betsy Smith or Becky Gibson for assistance with permanent roles.

Meet our Author