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Leading Female Award winner Gillian French talks equality, success and CarTrawler

I am thrilled to be part of the industry leading team that scooped the Innovative New Technology Award at last week’s Deloitte Fast 50 Awards. I’m so proud of CarTrawler’s success, it’s the Irish indigenous success story that just keeps on giving. I have been with CarTrawler since its infancy and I’m elated to see it grow and develop, and for it to be recognised by Deloitte in the top fifty fastest growing technology companies in Ireland.

Moreover, I am honoured and feel privileged to have been awarded the Leading Female Award for my team and my colleague’s efforts to achieve equality.  It’s wonderful to be recognised for the work that I enjoy so much.  I’m delighted for the business that this category is getting such recognition, it’s hugely important to promote gender equality when we are a rapidly growing a successful and efficient global organisation.

I’ve always understood the importance of a gender-balanced workplace and that has always been at the forefront of my mind, even in our early days. CarTrawler has always had an even gender distribution and that’s because we value our people on the basis of who they are and for the work that they do. I feel that diversity makes for better decision-making, a characteristic that is imperative in a successful, fast-paced business. I firmly believe that there’s a correlation between a diverse workforce and a successful company with a positive growth incline. That maintenance of our culture, values and diversity has been indispensable in helping to propel the company’s success and growth trajectory in recent years.

Our gender balance has been the result of one crucial hiring requirement, the absence of quotas and the presence of sound judgement. I never came in with a desire to hire an employee simply based on their gender. Instead, I have instilled a mindset of equality and balance in my team. Our hiring requirements are simple, it is based on merit. I’ve always had this heightened awareness of fairness and this is an indispensable mindset in dispelling any bias from the recruitment process. There’s no agenda or bias behind our hiring. We hire people, based on ability.

As Chief People Officer I have always endeavoured to create an environment that appeals to our people. The 21st century workforce is like nothing we’ve witnessed before and companies must be prepared for this difference. We are strong believers in the link between our employees’ personal wellbeing and success in their career. With the introduction of numerous benefits and caring initiatives, we are striving to create an environment to which our people want to be part of. Employees spend far more time at work than they did in the past and we want to assure our people that they are in an open, welcome and inclusive environment.

Mike McGearty CEO, CarTrawler with Gillian French, Chief People Officer, CarTrawler
Mike McGearty CEO, CarTrawler with Gillian French, Chief People Officer, CarTrawler

I started in CarTrawler as the Director of Operations, a position which granted me an incredible insight into the workings of this business. As the company has grown, this period of my career has stood to me. I decided to re-skill myself to keep up with the pace and growth of the business and completed my master’s in business and postgraduate diplomas in executive coaching and strategic human resources and organisational behaviour.

I focused primarily on HR and this combined with my experience in operations, broadened my understanding of our growing business. HR has transformed in recent years and I am determined to bring a more humanistic aspect to the area previously known as Personnel. HR has had to adapt to the changing times and while we all need policies in our workplace, I feel it’s important to focus on people. I like to see people get on and I genuinely like people. So that’s when we re-branded HR as the People Team, when I took that over, because I believe it’s important that people are at the heart of everything we do .