Beating the odds with flexibility

Changing perceptions, increasing diversity and appealing to women are top of the agenda for international sports-betting and gaming operator Paddy Power Betfair.

You don’t need to be a sports-mad gambling enthusiast to work at international betting operator Paddy Power Betfair but this incorrect perception has hindered the company’s recruitment of women.

That’s set to change, with the business launching campaigns to dispel myths about its culture and promote its openness to flexibility.

The move includes the publication of a series of adverts and videos featuring members of the team and their passions – from a magician to white collar boxers and singers. The “I am Paddy Power Betfair” series has already featured online and in newspapers and magazines in London, Dublin, Malta, Romania and Portugal.

“Our goal is to improve gender balance in the company and one of the barriers we face is attracting more women to apply for our open roles” says Talent Director Charlotte Steel. It is early days, but the campaign is already having an impact on the numbers of women applying.

Currently, 30% of the company’s workforce is female. “Around 30% of our applications come from women and around 30% of our hires are women. The data suggests increasing the number of applications will improve our chances of hiring more women,” says Steel.

“It’s not essential for candidates to have a background in the industry. Like many businesses, our strategy is to create growth, and to grow you need to differentiate, and to differentiate you need to innovate and to innovate you need diversity in all forms.”

Paddy Power Betfair is a FTSE 100 company and employees receive the high-end benefits associated with that status – including share schemes and bonus opportunities. However, Steel says the business has the culture similar to a start-up: fast-paced and ever-changing, where those keen to innovate can thrive.

“Our junior members of staff have day to day exposure to senior leaders because of the relatively flat structure and non-hierarchical culture of the organisation. If you work hard, are smart, have good ideas and can prove yourself there are opportunities for you,” she says.

Flexibility is a key element of the push to recruit more women and the business launched its ‘Flex Appeal’ campaign last year to make sure staff are aware of the options available. This formalised already-high levels of informal flexibility that existed in the company.

The business launched a menu of flexible working options, with home working and flexi-time available in all roles and other options such as part-time and job sharing available for some positions. “Our aspiration is for flexibility to be a feature of how we work, embedded in our culture as the norm,” says Steel.

Flexibility is not seen as an accommodation only for mothers. “We believe everyone can benefit from a bit of flexibility in their life. You might want to start at 9.30am because you have a gym class before work, or leave the office at 5pm for football practice,” she says. “One colleague works three days and the rest of the week attends university to study counselling and psychotherapy.  There is flexibility for everyone.”

On top of this, the firm has reviewed policies to ensure they are family-friendly, challenged recruiters to provide balanced shortlists and partnered with organisations such as Girls in Tech and the Makers Academy to help train women and access pools of talent.

“Becoming a new mum has meant my priorities in life have changed. But that doesn’t mean my career ambitions are any less,” says Head of Brand Planning Emer McCarthy. “I love what I do and having children has given me a new appreciation and a new drive for my job. Flexible working hours allow me to achieve a work-life balance, whilst keeping my career on track.”

Paddy Power Betfair has a range of roles available across finance, HR, technology, marketing, commercial and products in both London and Dublin. Experience of the industry is not essential, with behaviour and values central to the recruitment process. Steel says a ‘can do’ attitude; an appetite for a challenge; a smart, inquisitive nature; and a collaborative approach are most important.

“We’re looking for people who have ideas and are passionate about making things better but have a low ego and work well in a team,” she says. “Staff engagement in our business is high on a number of dimensions, and particularly high around peer to peer relationships – people like each other, it’s a friendly place and there are high levels of trust which is something we’re proud of.”

Successful candidates into senior roles can expect development opportunities, with annual feedback accompanied by 1:1 coaching sessions with external coaches. The firm offers leadership and management training programmes and high-potential women are sponsored by senior leaders in a bid to accelerate their progress in the company.

With roles currently available in London and Dublin, it’s time to take a gamble and apply.