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International Women's Day 2021: An Interview with Nesreen Ballut

Posted on March 2021

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This year's International Women's Day theme #ChooseToChallenge represents the idea of challenging norms related to gender equality to create change. At Selby Jennings, we choose to challenge and promote gender diversity and inclusion.

Nesreen Ballut, Principal Recruitment Consultant – Legal, shares her thoughts on this year's theme, and how she chooses to challenge in her role.

What does the #ChooseToChallenge message mean to you?

Choose to Challenge not only means to challenge gender biases, but it also means to empower women striving to succeed. It is critical that we encourage women to push themselves to their fullest potential. In order for women to have a seat at the table, and even more importantly, a voice at the table, we need to elevate our voices and women must empower women.

What sort of conversations around gender equality do you have with your clients in your role? Has Covid-19 had an impact on gender equality?

Gender equality is a constant topic of discussion with both candidates and clients as we have a strategic role as a staffing agency to challenge our clients to push for gender equality within the workplace. When speaking to candidates, we need to dig a bit deeper and better understand their company's culture. We also must come to the realization that gender equality plays a crucial role in the contentment of women in the workplace. Covid-19 also has a massive impact on gender equality for some - specifically working moms as they are balancing their child's virtual schooling and their WFH set up. Flexibility and understanding is essential especially in these trying times.

What role can recruiters play in challenging norms and creating change?

Recruiters not only have the opportunity, but also the responsibility of challenging norms within the corporate world. Search firms definitely play an essential role in better educating clients and being part of the change within gender equality. By promoting female professionals for higher level opportunities, we are assisting our clients in becoming more inclusive in their cultural practices and providing more opportunities for organizations to achieve equitability. Within certain industries, there is no doubt a lack of female employees and females in leadership, so by keeping a close eye on each industry and taking the time to better understand certain pain-points, we act as a strategic partner to all of our clients and candidates.

What advice would you give to a company trying to create a diverse hiring strategy?

We need to think about the bigger picture and the benefits of gender equality in the workplace. It is crucial that we uphold the best reputation and when we are intentional in our practices and promoting equality, we will foster an excellent company reputation. It is also important to note that individuals of different genders bring varied talents and expertise in the workplace so to be as innovative as possible, diversity and inclusion must be a metric to hit.

As a female leader, what advice would you give to other aspiring leaders in overcoming potential gender biases and achieving career success?

Ladies - Amplify your voices. Every single one of us has the potential to limitlessly achieve our goals and take our capabilities to greater heights. Project confidence in all you do and seize every opportunity that comes your way.

About Nesreen Ballut

​Nesreen Ballut joined Selby Jennings in 2018 bringing with her a strong background in legal recruitment and a passion for acting as a strategic partner for companies to build stronger and more equitable teams. She is Head of Legal-Midwest for the Selby Jennings brand, where she manages direct-hire searches for mid-to-senior level legal professionals in the STEM industry. Nesreen also serves as Chair of Phaidon International's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.

​Visit other International Women's Day related content here.

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