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Family-friendly recruitment draws strong demand

Kimberley Arth (right) and Lauren Lin
PIVOT Co-Founders Kimberley Arth (right) and Lauren Lin

Even the most highly qualified, skilled women can find it difficult to re-enter the workplace after taking time out to have a family. Hong Kong niche recruitment firm PIVOT aims to bridge the gap by connecting high-calibre women with some of the city’s most esteemed companies. Co-founded by former investment banker Kimberley Arth and Lauren Lin from the United States, who has a marketing and public relations background, the start-up currently has more than 500 candidates on its books, from bankers to event co-ordinators. Ms Arth describes how the in-demand start-up is progressing.

What are the biggest issues facing women re-entering the workplace in Hong Kong?
Women continue to face the same challenges here as they do globally. Most candidates we see that have taken a “career break” have been off for two to three years, not 10 as some would assume. In these cases, the candidates are very eager to get back to work but find it very challenging to get their foot in the door once again. In many instances, companies view these breaks as something that makes the candidate irrelevant instead of acknowledging that they have probably widened other areas of their skill sets.

You and Ms Lin both worked in the corporate world. Why did you decide to leave these roles?
We both decided to leave when we relocated to Hong Kong from the United States. It was not an easy decision for either of us, and definitely a shock to the system to move onto an entrepreneurial path. But the reality of the situation was that we both needed more flexibility and didn’t think that a corporate role could accommodate that. Launching PIVOT was both a passion project and a necessity.

What trends are you noticing in the human resources industry and how are you seeking to address those?
The trends most applicable to our business are related to diversity and inclusion. Companies are definitely beginning to take a more active stance on how to retain and attract female talent and are reaching out to us to find talented women at the more senior levels. We’re also seeing more companies with interest in developing return to work programmes and other corporate programmes to address gender diversity issues.

What are you most proud of since setting up the business?
The platform that we’ve developed and how we’ve been able to help women find challenging, rewarding roles. We’ve also collaborated with others to host workshops that help women refine specific skill sets and build their networks and in many cases find the confidence they need to take a new step in their careers.

Are there things you wish that you’d done differently in your start-up journey?
When we launched, the topic of gender diversity was just beginning to get air-time and we were approaching it from a different angle. At the outset, we were mainly trying to find project-based roles for women where they could consult instead of taking on full-time roles. At the time, we thought this was a great way for women to find challenging projects and for companies to get access to experts without having to make full time hires. However, we found, that this approach was somewhat confusing to companies as they couldn’t always envision what the right consulting need would be. We decided to expand our recruiting efforts to full- and part-time roles and anything in between, which has made it much easier for companies to engage with us.

What do you like about running a business in Hong Kong?
It’s incredibly easy to become incorporated in the city and there are tons of resources out there to help do so. Given the global nature of Hong Kong, we have found that many people are willing to provide introductions or connections to networks, which can be critical to businesses just starting out.

What are your long-term plans for the company?
While recruitment and gender diversity is at the heart of our business we also believe that there are many aspects of the overall recruitment process that can be improved to make it more effective and efficient. As we do so, we may collaborate with similarly minded companies and/or make key hires to help us on this path.

Learn more
Hong Kong Means Business readers can find out all about recruitment in the city at the HKTDC Education and Careers Expo, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, on 6 to 9 February.

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