Marvellous Mum Stephanie Dillon used her experience and passion for reigniting careers to set up Inclusivity Partners while juggling bringing up a young family.
• Which part of the Chilterns do you live?
Chalfont St Peter
• Family members:
James 43, Annie 8, Joshua 5
• Sum up your business in a sentence:
We are passionate about reigniting careers and creating new opportunities for talent that is getting over-looked.
• What’s your career background?
I spent 14 years working in corporate recruitment, both in the UK and in Australia. I’ve managed large teams and P&Ls but the most joy I’ve ever had in my career is when I find someone a new job. So it’s nice to be back working on creating opportunities rather than managing a division.
• How did your career change after becoming a mum?
I definitely spent less time by the water cooler and became more efficient! I’ve also taken career breaks, so I understand first hand the challenges that come with that when you want to re-enter the market.
• What first inspired you to start Inclusivity Partners in October 2015?
Well we fully launched in January 2016 but I’d say this business has been in the making for nearly 18 years! There are so many little things a long the way that have left an imprint on me that have inspired this business. I remember my mum being made redundant from her job at about 52. I was 23 and had just started on a Graduate scheme with a recruitment company. I watched how hard it was for her to find another role and it just didn’t seem right to me that she would get over-looked for roles that I knew she had a great skill set for. So very early on I could see that something wasn’t quite right for women when it came to finding new roles, particularly at a certain stage of their life. I could see the impact it had on confidence and self-worth. And then naturally when you become a mum yourself you either go through a similar process, or even if you continue working in a great company you often witness friends finding it really tough to find the right role or company that allows the life balance they’re seeking.
And how did you move from the idea to actually taking your first business steps?
I registered my domain name about 2 years ago but then lacked the courage to just go for it! But the more women I spoke with who had struggled with their career the more I realised we needed more voices in the market place representing them. Also it’s not just about women, although in the UK it is largely women who take career breaks. However men who take career breaks also face the same stigma when they try to return to work so it’s an issue for all parties.
• What skills or experience from your career do you use in your business?
All of it! I’ve built a business based on my recruitment skill set but that also matches my passion for finding new ways to source talent
• Who is your target customer and how do you find and market to them?
Our mission is to highlight to businesses the amazing talent they are missing out on in the market place by not offering flexible, agile or part-time working patterns. On the business side we speak with both Internal Recruitment functions and also Heads of Diveristy.
In terms of candidates we are focussed to start with on professionals who have either taken a career break, or who have found themselves stuck in a part-time role that is not fulfilling them. We want to reignite the passion and ambition that they once had and find them organisations who embrace everything they have to offer.
What are the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in starting your own business?
The biggest challenge we will fight on a daily basis is the notion of the ideal worker been a full-time worker, on call 24/7. There is a lot of talk around flexible working, and agile working policies etc, but on a day to day basis you will often find that little has actually changed. The words ‘part-time’ still have a ridiculous stigma attached to them which we need to continue to battle. That said there are some businesses who are leading the way and it is the forward thinking businesses we want to work with.
• Your biggest successes to date?
I get most excited when I interview great women! It validates the whole reason for setting up this business and proves our theory that the female talent is out there if you know where to look.
• What’s your vision for your business?
The ultimate vision is to change the way large companies hire staff into their organisations. We want them to be more inclusive of women, or men, who have taken a career break or a step back to raise children.
• How do you juggle running a business and family life?
Like many women the ability to control my own diary has been hugely beneficial in enabling me to do this. I also have really energetic, active kids who actually request to go to camps in the holidays so I genuinely don’t’ feel any guilt about that.
• What advice do you have for other mums who want to start a business?
Maybe don’t sit on the idea for as long as I did! Also look into any local mums business networks – I’ve found women to be amazingly collaborative and supportive which can be invaluable when you’re in start-up mode.
• How do you relax?
Well I don’t prioritise this enough, I know I should! Every 3rd or 4th weekend my husband and I will book a sitter for a few hours and go for a big walk in the Chilterns and I absolutely love it.
What do you love most about where you live?
I love the Chilterns – I love the beautiful rolling hills and just how visually stunning it is. I also love the fact that a fast train will take me to London in 20 minutes so you really have the best of both worlds.
• Your simple pleasure?
Chocolate. Absolutely addicted.
• What’s your favourite tipple?
I don’t have a favorite tipple other than a dry white, but love nothing more than a glass of wine with 4 or 5 close school mums. We have such a laugh!
• Top dinner party guest?
Can I have a tie?? It’s between Angela Merkel or Christine Lagarde due to the wonderful breadth of conversation they could offer. But to be honest I’d probably just choose dinner with the school mums and a cracking laugh!
• Favourite Meal?
Hard to beat a good old fashioned Sunday Roast.
• One thing on your bucket list?
I’d love to live in Italy for a few months and travel around and learn the language properly. Something to do in retirement maybe!
• Website: www.inclusivity.co.uk