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The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Balance for Better’, which focuses on the need to build a more gender-balanced world. At Hays, we support and value diversity in all forms—not just gender—and believe that a diverse workforce and inclusive culture are essential to business success. After over 20 years of leadership experience in the staffing industry, Debi Wolfe, our Senior Vice President of People, Culture & Strategy, explains how organizations can accomplish more by having a balanced team.
1. What are some ways you ensure there is balance within your team?
I continually assess our business needs to identify gaps related to skill, expertise, style, and perspective within our team. It’s important that team members complement or supplement each other’s capabilities so that we can innovate, deliver results, and continuously improve. Team diversity increases our capabilities and allows us to seize opportunities we may otherwise have missed. It also helps us achieve stretch goals. Our best work comes from spirited collaboration.
To maintain balance within the team, we embrace and celebrate our differences. We recognize that everyone adds value in their own way. We build upon our strengths and make learning an integral part of our culture. After we complete a project, we take time to review and document lessons learned for future improvements. We also recognize each team member’s unique contribution to the success of any program or initiative.
2. How do you benefit from balance both personally and professionally?
Watching a diverse group of people work together to accomplish things they could not have achieved on their own is extremely rewarding. It’s also very gratifying to see my team grow personally and professionally while making significant impacts on the business. Everyone benefits, including the organization as a whole, when employees are fully engaged and are operating as a high functioning team.
3. What motivated you to reach a leadership role in your career?
I’ve always had an innate interest in coaching and developing others. It started early in life. When I was in fourth grade, I had the opportunity to mentor a new first grader starting school. I was so excited and could not wait to help her adjust to a new school. Since then, I found myself seeking leadership opportunities throughout my life. There have been times in my career where I did not have direct leadership responsibility, such as when I was in consulting. While the work was interesting and stretched me in new ways, I missed having a team.
4. What advice would you give to female professionals who are starting out their career?
View your career as a mission, not a job. Realize you have a unique role to play in this world. Honor that responsibility by leveraging your talents for the greater good. Know your purpose and work with integrity, passion, perseverance, and resilience—even in roles that are not a good fit or your desired destination. Every experience is a learning opportunity to help you move forward. Resist comparing yourself to others; instead, focus on building your character and confidence. Start and end each day with gratitude, and practice stepping outside your comfort zone. Take people with you on your journey and celebrate your success.
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