written by Gina Buckle
Agents of Change: Creating Change for Good with Michael Page
Michael Page are sponsoring the Agent of Change category at the Northern Power Women Awards 2022, an award dedicated to celebrating an individual who has strived to shift the status quo. To find out more about just how much of the status quo has been shifted over the last two years, we spoke to Ruth Hancock, Senior Operating Director at Michael Page about Levelling Up, our newfound appreciation for flexibility, and what we can all do to be Agents of Change.
Defining Levelling Up as the “improvement of the standard of living of all those living in the North”, a challenge that Ruth sees to the Levelling Up agenda is “identifying where change is needed and having the creativity and the innovation to actually implement those improvements […] It’s really important to identify the strengths that each place has, one size doesn’t fit all.”
As Ruth summarised, “it’s much more to do with mindset and attitude rather than whether or not a train line goes through a certain place. I don’t think that is what encourages people to live and work in the North. It’s about encouraging and appreciating the differences and looking at the wealth of opportunities that are here”.
After nearly two years of remote working, Ruth believes that our increased flexibility in the world of work can create wider access to the job market across the North, allowing us to focus on these regional strengths. “For many professions, gone are the days when you had to be within forty-five minutes of the workplace”, she said, “the introduction of hybrid working increases opportunity for people in Northern regions who want to have a really interesting career without the prospect of needing to relocate”.
Boosting chances of career progression for regional populations and women in particular, this flexibility is something that has come to define how we approach productivity, empathy, and our work-life balances moving forward. “We’ve been forced to think differently”, Ruth commented. “It’s been a real window into people’s lives and the way that we balance home and work. I think it’s important that as a society we embrace that and make sure that we’re combining and appreciating the two, rather than separating them out”. Particularly within the recruitment sector, Ruth has seen how an appreciation for embracing life outside of work is now a higher priority for many. “Salary and other monetary benefits aren’t always the most attractive aspects of a job anymore. It’s the culture of the business, it’s the people within it, it’s their approach to inclusion and flexibility”.
So, what can organisations, leaders and individuals do to continue this wave of change, shift the status quo and create lasting improvements to gender equality? Ruth maintains that a championing of authenticity and listening is what makes an Agent of Change.
“Authentically inspire and mentor others. […] Listen and respond thoughtfully to any concerns and ideas that people may have. […] Develop that self-esteem, confidence and pride in where we’re all from – really embrace and build upon those regional differences”.
Through the spotlighting and celebration of role models in this year’s Agent of Change Awards, sponsored by Michael Page, together we will shift the status quo and Level Up for good.