Co-owners Jane Atherton and Julia Vassie, hailed as ‘the Ant and Dec of recruitment’, are helping bring balance back to recruitment, with a majority female workforce and one of the fastest-growing female-led businesses in the UK.
Love Success, one of London’s leading recruitment agencies, was honoured with a top industry award this month, scooping the prestigious Best Female-Owned Recruitment Agency Award for 2017. The firm went up against some of the recruitment world’s biggest names to come out on top, and the coveted Acquisition International award cements the company’s status, not only as top female-led recruiters, but also as one of the most successful recruitment agencies in the UK.
Founded in 2010 by co-owners Jane Atherton and Julia Vassie, Love Success has truly lived up to its name in the years since. The agency has picked up a multitude of other recruitment accolades, including Recruiter of the Year 2016, and it has achieved a sought-after spot on the Fortuna 50 Index – an honour that saw the company formally recognised and congratulated by the Prime Minister. The company is set to turn over £8m in 2017, and both Jane and Julia are permanent fixtures in the Who’s Who of Britain’s Business Elite.
Julia says, “We are absolutely thrilled to win this prestigious award, which recognises our commitment to helping women in business thrive. Jane and I have worked together for over twenty years, founding and growing female-led businesses, so it’s a real honour to have our work celebrated in this way.”
Jane adds, “To win Best Female-Owned Recruitment Agency is a fabulous moment in both mine and Julia’s careers, and we’re so pleased to be able to buck the trend and bring some balance back into the recruitment world, which has traditionally been dominated by men.”
Bucking the trend in terms of women in the workforce has been a cornerstone of the company’s success – and support for women and their career ambitions lies at the very heart of the agency’s ethos. The workforce is currently around 90% female, with 40% of positions being part-time, giving mothers and carers a viable route into the recruitment industry.
One of the ways in which Love Success has helped bring more balance into the workforce is to offer flexible working and part-time hours for those who can’t necessarily commit to a traditional 9-5 day– with women being the overwhelming majority.
Jane says, “We do offer truly flexible working without compromising on bonus earnings for our staff. We are able to offer this in return for long-term commitment. We have been through several births, marriages and divorces and we care greatly about our staff providing support whenever they need it. We know that other recruitment agencies don’t allow anything but full-time working, which we believe is incredibly limiting and doesn’t promote commitment or longevity within the talent force.”
As well as supporting women in the workforce, Jane and Julia want to champion more women to reach boardroom level. Julia started her first business when her daughter was just nine months old, and despite her success, she believes that acceptance and support of working mothers in general is still not as normal as it should be in the UK. “I am an advocate for encouraging all, whether female or male, to obtain greater achievements in promotion to manager and director-level positions,” she says.
Embracing technological evolution
As well as its vital support for women in recruitment, Love Success is helping to lead the way in terms of technology. The firm embraces social media as a method of brand-building and professional networking, and Love Success continues to grow and evolve with technology at its core. But both Jane and Julia recognise that technology cannot replace recruiters, and this is one industry where the human touch will always be more important than algorithms and automation.
“Recruitment companies are people-based businesses,” says Julia. “Computers can’t communicate an applicant’s personality or passion, or even persuade a client to see a wildcard candidate, for example. We get to know our candidates and gain their trust, having nurtured, advised and supported them throughout the process. These very important attributes are never evident via a computerised copy of a CV. It’s vital to embrace technology - but it should be leveraged as one of many tools we use to find the right candidate for any role.”
Impending challenges for recruitment in the City
The recruitment industry faces a challenging period in the aftermath of Brexit – but Love Success is built on firm foundations, and is perfectly positioned to ride out the storm. Indeed, up to this point, Love Success has not been negatively affected by the Brexit vote.
“Office rental rates in the city have taken a dip, and immediately after the Brexit vote, our high-salaried positions (£150k plus) were put on hold for a month or so. But apart from these indicators, the referendum hasn’t had an effect on business. We’re still on target to achieve a turnover of £8m this year, which would make 2017 our best year yet.”
Despite noticing minimal affect in their own business from the Brexit vote, both Jane and Julia understand that many of their clients are concerned for the future of their workforce when the UK leaves the EU – especially those in professional services and banking. The pair continue to watch the developments closely, constantly communicating with clients about how Brexit could affect them and their future hiring practices.
In terms of recruiters, Jane believes that many agencies are highly adaptable, and will make it through Brexit uncertainty just like many of them have made it through recessions in recent years. Julia adds that recruitment companies with a small client base are the ones who should be cautious.
“If one of those clients withdraws their business, it can have a catastrophic effect on that small recruitment agency. Love Success has a business model of supplying to a high number of clients, which ensures our stability and security throughout challenging times like this. We provide to a wide range of industries, and are confident that our approach will be a winning formula over the coming years.”