Recruitment Rethink: CPM’s Lorraine Butler on Ageism, Shared Maternity Leave and Positive Working Culture

Lorraine Butler is managing director, CPM Ireland, the first female to lead this large field marketing and sales agency.

Innovative thinking I often invite employees to sit in on interview panels for more senior roles than they hold. As observers, they can see how interviewers perceive candidates, what resonates, what doesn’t, how scoring of candidates is carried out and ultimately how the choice of successful candidate is made. This helps individuals be better prepared for more senior roles, expediting their chances of rising up the career ladder – plus the market gets access to this talent more quickly.

Thorny challenge Ageism is alive and well in the workplace but I prefer to look at experience. Confidence levels of older employees are often chipped away in the company of tech-savvy younger employees. Creating official mentoring pairings has a really positive impact.

Latest provocative idea Divide maternity/adoption leave between the two parents as opposed to the current set-up of only the mother being eligible. Currently, if one of my employees can get agreement from their partner’s employer to split maternity/adoption leave between the two parents, I am happy to support this. This would give parents the option to consider what best works for them as opposed to current policy which is inherently biased.

Work culture A positive working culture is vital to business success and I won’t stand for anything or anyone who might jeopardise this. Keeping my ears open at the coffee station or through my network is vitally important. Once, during a period of business success, I began to hear seeds of “entitlement” settling in with one very influential team. Understanding that this wasn’t the normal grumblings, but gripes that were starting to damage our office culture, I called an impromptu session with my team. I seldom have strong words so the impact when I quite honestly and simply said “I’ve heard the gossip and if people aren’t happy to work in our company, they should not come in tomorrow, there will be no hard feelings. The door is always open for constructive feedback but not for detrimental, positivity-draining gossip”. The next day, one person advised they were leaving and thanked me for the “kick in the ass” they needed to move on. It was important to me that people saw that having a good working culture was not just some words on an office wall but something we have to live as a business.

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