Why I love being an empowering leader

Written by Robert Gould  • Equality, Diversity & Inclusion  • 8 March 2022

Kimberly Van Der Walt

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, we’ve been speaking to some of the inspiring women working across Resource Solutions to discuss their career journeys, the experiences that have made them who they are today, and why IWD22’s theme, #BreakTheBias, matters to them. 

Kimberly Van Der Walt leads an eclectic team based in Resource Solutions’ Johannesburg Global Service Centre, focusing on the Direct Sourcing function that supports our accounts in the UK. We spoke to Kimberly about what makes her feel empowered at work, why she’s optimistic about the future of women in the workforce, and her advice for women starting their own careers in recruitment.

What does a typical day at Resource Solutions look like for you?

My main role as Team Leader is to take care of my team of seven. We have members in both Manchester and Johannesburg, operating as one team in two locations, each performing in various roles – including Direct Recruitment, Associate Recruitment and Talent Sourcing. I render support internally by ensuring they have the resources to succeed, while constantly monitoring and analysing the value we generate to see how we can serve clients to the best of our ability.

What do you enjoy most about the role?

In my role, I get to experience both sides of the coin: the business perspective through strategy and reporting, and the leadership aspects through team management and coaching. It’s amazing to watch the team grow as individuals, while contributing to an improved team dynamic in the process.

How would you describe your experience as a woman working in recruitment?

The experience has been really empowering. In South Africa, recruitment is a female-dominated environment. As a result, there’s plenty of strong women succeeding in these dynamic and fast-paced roles, and that’s testament to our ability.

Recruitment is far more essential to an organisation’s success than most make it out to be. The true extent of this importance is only apparent once you look behind the curtain. Being in a place like this, where I can showcase the best of my abilities alongside great female talent, makes me very hopeful for the future of women in the workforce. 

What does #BreakTheBias – IWD22’s theme – mean to you? 

The year’s slogan encompasses such an important and thought-provoking topic, especially for my millennial generation. Here in South Africa, we’re moving in the right direction, but there are still many biases that affect women in the workforce. We’re a young independence and there’s plenty of optimism. However, for me, breaking the bias is about pushing for a level of equality that benefits a community in its entirety, not just a select few. 

How would you describe the company culture at Resource Solutions?

In terms of breaking the bias, Resource Solutions is ahead of the curve. We’re constantly working towards a more balanced workplace environment, and this progressive mentality is carried over to the company’s initiatives, including events on mental health and gender bias.

When do you feel most empowered at work?

I feel most empowered when I’m being treated as an asset and not as a number. At Resource Solutions, everyone knows your name and seeks to have open conversations, regardless of management level. Here, we are people, first and foremost, and we all need to be heard.

What changes would you like to see made to achieve gender equality in the workplace? 

We’re not hugely far off, but there’s always work to be done! I personally believe that gender equality will only be achieved when women get jobs based solely on their skills, and not just as a box-ticking exercise. 

In previous roles, I've spoken to female applicants who requested for their names to be contracted to their initials and surname as a way of eliminating unconscious bias that may cause their skills and experience to be overlooked. That should not be the case. If we eliminate this, we’ll also get more women confidently choosing jobs based on their skills and passions, and not to increase their chances because the job in question is “for females”.

Who are your female role models?

She’s someone who’s close to my heart – my older sister. While she’s only three years older than me, she’s currently breaking conventional gender roles by successfully landing an Account Director role for a top telecommunications company in South Africa. It’s traditionally a male-dominated industry that’s full of red tape, but she continues to buck the trend while empowering her colleagues by doing what’s best for them.

Inspired by sister, I’ve taken up this mantle of empowering leadership in my current role. Given our relatively similar age and career paths, it’s encouraging to have her walk this journey alongside me.

What advice would you give to women starting a career in recruitment?

Firstly, embrace your individuality. If you’re already in a role, you were chosen for a reason – there’s no need to hide yourself or your potential. I’d also recommend embracing your connections. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Availing of the expertise that’s around you at an early stage of your career will have an invaluable impact on your future progression.

Finally, enjoy the rush. If your first experience is anything like at Resource Solutions, where you’re working across 12 to 13 clients at a time, you’ll have the opportunities to learn about different industries, companies and most importantly yourself, while picking up a lot of skills along the way.

Download our whitepaper, Break the Bias: Achieving gender equality in the workplace, for further insights into gender equality and how hidden bias within your recruitment process could be alienating diverse talent. In addition, you’ll discover actionable tips for fostering a more inclusive company culture. 

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