In-House D&I Training at EMEA Recruitment: Bias

By EMEA Recruitment
19 May, 2021
In-House D&I Training at EMEA Recruitment: Bias

Earlier this month, we were pleased to welcome our very own Ambassador, Valentina Coco, to deliver virtual Diversity & Inclusion training for all EMEA Recruitment staff members.

This initial session focussed on bias, specifically, our own biases, and how these affect our personal and professional lives.

Valentina explained the harsh reality that, even if we don’t think we’re biased or aren’t sure whether we’re biased, everybody is biased in some way. In fact, bias was necessary for our ancestors and can still be useful today.

We explored the distinction between explicit and implicit bias, focussing on why implicit bias is often more difficult to spot.

With a series of exercises, Valentina highlighted the ways that our brains filter out most of the information it’s being fed, so that – in some cases – we’re left with what we want to see.

Using specific examples relating to the recruitment process, Valentina looked at the common biases that most people have, aside from the more common and obvious biases relating to gender, age, race and beauty.

We concentrated on the following biases, and how they can typically influence professional life and the recruitment process:

  • Affinity bias – creating a bond with somebody that you like
  • Conformity bias – looking for evidence based on what we think to be right
  • Attribution bias – comparing our behaviour to others’, which can impact how we perceive them
  • The contrast effect – comparing events sequentially, to unfairly judge people

After explaining these common biases in detail, Valentina discussed the ways they can impact us in day-to-day life:

  • Our perceptions of others
  • Our attitude towards others
  • The way we behave around others
  • The attention that we give to others
  • Our listening skills
  • The micro-affirmations we give to others

We were all given regular opportunities to ask questions and discuss our thoughts in an open, inclusive environment, before Valentina left us with seven steps to identify and address our implicit bias.

Valentina will also complete a follow-up session with all at EMEA Recruitment on how we engage with our clients and address their biases during the recruitment process in the near future.

Valentina Coco is the CEO and Founder of Coco Consulting & Coaching. She helps teams create a truly inclusive environment.

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EMEA Recruitment: The Bastion of People-First Recruitment

After celebrating 15 years in professional services recruitment, we are delighted to unveil a new era of EMEA Recruitment as the bastion of people-first recruitment.

In 2022, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of EMEA Recruitment. Since we were founded by Paul and Kelly Toms in 2007, we have always focused on building strong relationships with clients and candidates across Switzerland, the Netherlands, the Nordics, and the wider EMEA region.

Having been established for 15 years, during which time we have expanded into new disciplines and markets, we felt that the time was right to re-develop our vision and values to reflect where EMEA Recruitment is now.

Our people-first approach has been fundamental in becoming a strategic partner to some of the most reputable businesses in the world and a trusted advisor to our candidates. Moving forward, Paul wanted this to be the focus of our mission – to become the bastion of people-first recruitment.

While discussing and debating our renewed vision and values, the team listened to one another, challenged each other’s ideas, and championed the collective message. This process followed the methods our Consultants use when working with candidates and clients, thus creating our three core values:

  • Listen
  • Challenge
  • Champion

To reflect this new mission for the business, we also decided to tweak the EMEA Recruitment brand with a fresh look.

Our new logo, colour palette and website honour the brand that we have built over the last 15 years, while signalling our renewed focus on people-first recruitment.

Richard Bailey, our Managing Director, says: “I’m really excited that our new website is going live, which features our new branding and values. Over the past 15 years, we have been incredibly proud of the relationships and networks our team have generated.

“We have taken time to listen to our team, our candidates, and our clients on how we can further add more value in recruitment. Our strategy continues to provide the best recruitment experience for everyone, and we remain committed to training our team and building our network with partners, clients, and candidates.”

He adds: “Recruitment is fundamentally a brokerage of people working with people. Putting people first is essential. A person’s skills can be measurable, managed and developed, but how influential are they within their teams? Or how good a leader or team-player are they? This requires a well-trained Recruitment Consultant to understand each personality and match good people with good career opportunities.

“We are proud to have worked with some of the biggest brands globally, and have helped them develop strong and diverse teams. We look forward to the future, as we build networks to further advance our clients’ and candidates’ ambitions.”  

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10-Minute Interview: Running the London Marathon for Operation Smile

10-Minute Interview: Running the London Marathon for Operation Smile

It’s now under a week to go until Neil Cope, Manager of our Procurement & Supply Chain recruitment division in Zug, runs the London Marathon on behalf of Operation Smile.

Neil sat down with Tamika Gayle, Marketing Executive, to discuss his training regime, what he’ll be thinking about as he runs, and whether he’d do it again.

How do you currently feel about running the London Marathon for EMEA Recruitment & Operation Smile?

I’m excited, as it’s my first marathon. I’ve been a recreational runner for a long time and have always liked it. My main aim is to just get around and finish!

How long have you been running for?

Through childhood, but more through other sports, such as football predominantly. When I was at school, I was doing cross country; for sports day, I did the 1,500m races instead of the 100m sprints.

After that, I went on to play a lot of football in my 20s, and then in my mid-20s, I started to prioritise running more.

What has been the hardest thing in preparing for the marathon?

The hardest thing has probably been injury management and the combination of adapting my training for the distance. I’ve completed three half marathons previously, but not recently.

Adjusting from a recreational 5k/10k/10-mile run is obviously a huge difference when preparing for 26 miles.

Have you always run long distance?

Yes, I have always run long distance - 5k to 10k is more middle distance, but that’s debatable. I have always liked endurance sports and long distance, whether it’s cycling or running.

Have you ever run a marathon before?

I’ve never done full marathon before, although I have done the Robin Hood half marathon twice and the Worksop half marathon twice, as well.

I completed the Worksop half marathon in October 2018/19 in one hour, 19 mins and 58 secs, which is my personal best. Unfortunately, in current conditions, I won’t be able to copy that pace, but hopefully I will be able to one day.

Has it been more of a physical or mental challenge for you so far?

It’s been more of a mental challenge - deciding what to do on the weekend, whether it is cycling or running, does take up half your day.

How many miles do you think you’ve run in preparation for this marathon?

Not enough to be honest – but there is still a bit of time. I’m averaging 20 to 30 miles a week. To manage a bit of cross training, I have been cycling on average three to five hours a week on top of that.

What completion time are you aiming for?

Three-and-a-half hours would be ideal. I would be annoyed if it took any longer from a boredom point of view. Eight minutes per mile is my aim.

What do you think about as you are running?

I’m a bit of a daydreamer. I also like changing routes, so I think about the route and the different surroundings. Sometimes, I listen to football-related podcasts, think about work and home life - that sort of thing.

What has been your main motivation for running?

I’m expecting a child later in the year, so I’m keen to finish a marathon before the baby arrives!

What will you do to celebrate after you cross the finish line?

Other than stagger towards the finishing area, I would like to go for a drink and something to eat together with my partner and my colleagues from EMEA, who will be there supporting me.

Would you be up for doing it all over again?

At this point, I would say yes – although I’d probably change that answer at the finish line! I would like to get the injury in my Achilles sorted first though.

I would also love to do a sub-three-hour marathon once in my life.

What advice would you give to aspiring marathon runners or anyone who would like to start running?

In my opinion, running is the best thing you can do for yourself as a human being and for a healthy lifestyle.

Running is simple and the easiest exercise you can do - you don’t need any assistance from a machine or a bike. It’s also anti-aging!

If you’re able to support Neil, please donate to Operation Smile:

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Neil Cope to Run the London Marathon in April

Neil Cope to Run the London Marathon in April

On Sunday 23rd April 2023, Neil Cope, who manages our Procurement & Supply Chain recruitment division in Switzerland, is running the London Marathon to raise money for Operation Smile.

Towards the end of last year, the Operation Smile team offered us one of their charity places at the London Marathon. As EMEA Recruitment’s resident running enthusiast, Neil was top of the list for the coveted spot.

Operation Smile has been the official partner of the EMEA Recruitment podcast since 2020. During this period, we have raised almost £9,000 for the charity, which has transformed the lives of 60 children or adults with cleft lip and palate.

Through fundraising for this upcoming event, our goal is to create another 16 smiles and transform the lives of children around the world.

All at EMEA Recruitment have a special connection to Operation Smile, as our Founder, Paul Toms, was born with a cleft lip and palate himself, and has shared his personal journey with us all.

Having completed half-marathons, 5k and 10k races in the past, Neil has never faced the challenge of a full marathon. Nevertheless, his training is firmly underway, and he is supported by his colleagues who partake in EMEA’s weekly running club.

You can read more about Neil’s story, keep up to date with his training, and donate to Operation Smile on the Enthuse platform:

Paul said: “Since our partnership began a few years ago, I am humbled by the time, effort and imagination that has poured into the partnership from the team at EMEA and our network. The outcome so far of transforming the lives of 60 people born with cleft lip and palate is amazing, and we want to do more!

“We have several other events in the pipeline starting with this one, which is going to be a challenge for Neil. There’s not a huge percentage of people who run a marathon in their lives - it’s tough mentally, physically and requires a lot of training, so I am full of admiration and gratitude for what Neil is doing. I hope he can enjoy the occasion in the knowledge that every step he takes towards the finishing line will be helping Operation Smile bring smiles to 16 more children around the world.

“I know life is tough now. The cost of living is rising, and disposable income is reducing. However, what price can you put on the ability to smile? Please donate. Any amount - no matter how small - is much appreciated and makes a huge difference. Best of luck Neil, and thank you to everyone who donates to this fantastic and worthwhile cause.”

We’re sure you will all join us in wishing Neil good luck for the race in April!

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Proud to Celebrate 15 Years of EMEA Recruitment

Proud to Celebrate 15 Years of EMEA Recruitment

We are delighted to be celebrating the 15th anniversary of EMEA Recruitment, after opening for business in 2007.

EMEA Recruitment was founded 15 years ago by Paul Toms and his wife, Kelly. With their experience recruiting in international markets, they originally focused on Finance & Accountancy recruitment in the Netherlands.

Their approach swiftly developed to include professional services recruitment in Switzerland and the wider EMEA market. We now have offices in Amsterdam, Zug and Nottingham, with a growing team of specialist Recruitment Consultants.

Paul remains hands-on in the business, helping professionals manage their careers, working with multi-national organisations to recruit the strongest talent, and supporting our recruiters with training and development.

Paul and Kelly’s first employee, Izabela Darmstetter, is still with the business, as an Associate Director. We also recently celebrated the ten-year work anniversary of John Bower, Director.

Over the years, we have welcomed recruitment expert Paul Macildowie as Chairperson and professional services recruitment specialist Richard Bailey as Managing Director.

Richard reflects on the last 15 years: “Lots has changed over the past 15 years, but fundamentally, we’ve always wanted to work with great people. Our employees, past and present, have consistently pushed growth with their committed professionalism.

“We’ve always had a lot of fun on the growing EMEA journey – a big thank you is needed to all our employees, but also candidates and clients who partner with us, and businesses we partner with.”

He adds: “We will continue to push to become the recruitment partner of choice for multi-nationals across Europe. Looking forward to further future growth.”

More recently, Michelle Ewing, Director, was welcomed to the board of directors, taking female representation on our board to 40%. We are also proud that 50% of our managers are women.

As a people business, we are committed to promoting Equity, Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace, both internally and externally, with our clients. By working with us, our clients can be confident that we act as a neutral third party in the recruitment process.

We are proud to be the ED&I recruiter of choice for many multi-national businesses, as reflected by ongoing events, training and candidate appointments.

As the world of work has changed, so has our approach. Our Consultants are specialists in their markets and disciplines, ensuring that they can deliver expert insights and updates to our network. We are seeing an increased focus on ED&I, remote working and sustainability.

We have acknowledged these changes and adapted EMEA Recruitment to become an agency of choice for our clients and candidates - but also an employer of choice for our Consultants.

As we look ahead to the future, we are excited about upcoming projects and partnerships, including our own commitment to fighting the climate crisis.

If you would like to find out how you can work with us, please get in touch with John Byrne, if you are based in Switzerland, or Richard Bailey, if you’re in the Netherlands.

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The Last Thing that made you Smile | World Smile Day 2022

The Last Thing that made you Smile | World Smile Day 2022

To celebrate World Smile Day 2022, we’re sharing the heart-warming responses to the question, “what was the last thing that made you smile?” on the EMEA Recruitment podcast.

The podcast is produced in partnership with Operation Smile, an international medical charity that provides life-changing surgery and support to children and adults with cleft lip and palate.

It’s a cause close to our Founder, Paul Toms’ heart, as he was born with a cleft lip and palate himself. When interviewing guests on the EMEA Recruitment podcast, Paul asks them to explain the last thing that made them smile.

You can listen to some of the answers from our guests below:

Thank you to Dorie Clark, Markus Graf, Francesca Gino and Marco Aspesi, for sharing such lovely stories! Be sure to check out their full episodes:

Throughout our partnership, we’re hoping to create 100 new smiles. It costs just €180/182CHF/£150 and takes as little as 45 minutes to provide cleft surgery on an Operation Smile medical mission.

If you can donate anything to help us reach our goal, please visit:

Recently, we also welcomed Operation Smile UK’s new Executive Director, Mairead O’Callaghan, onto the EMEA Recruitment podcast to discuss her 11 years with the charity.

She also explained the charity’s goals for the next decade, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2022.

Find the episode on your podcast app or watch on YouTube below:

Paul explains his connection to Operation Smile: “I can’t compare the challenges I faced with those of the young children Operation Smile help. All I can say is that, from my experience over the years, I changed from being afraid my uniqueness would define me, to embracing the fact that it defined me.”

Operation Smile is the official partner of the EMEA Recruitment podcast. If you’d like to find out more about our partnership, visit:

Operation Smile United Kingdom is incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in the UK (No.04317039) and is a registered charity in England and Wales (No. 1091316).

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In-House D&I Training: Equity vs. Equality

In-House D&I Training: Equity vs. Equality

The whole team at EMEA Recruitment recently took part in Equity vs. Equality training, delivered by our Ambassador, Valentina Coco.

“At the end, the key objective is to have someone on the recruiting panel who can empathise.”

Last year, Valentina conducted two in-house D&I training sessions – one on the topic of bias, the other on how to speak to our clients about D&I.

In July, Valentina explored the issue of equity versus equality, particularly from the standpoint of ethnic diversity. Globally, we still lack diverse ethnical representation in business; just 8% of managers and 4% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Valentina explained how the pipeline for getting to senior management positions is broken for those from minority backgrounds, due partly to highly unemployment rates and lack of access to education. Even when minority candidates are hired, they can feel that they’re alienating the majority in the workplace. This is why an equitable hiring process is essential.

We looked at the difference between nationality, ethnicity and race, as well as some common and less well-known words and phrases that we may feel uncomfortable using at times.

Exploring equity and equality in more detail, we discussed why workplace policies are bad for equity and how standardised testing in the recruitment process still discriminates against marginalised groups.

To help us understand the biggest hurdles in recruiting, Valentina presented us with four challenges: societal access, bias and tokenism, the pipeline gap, and the impact of COVID-19.

Societal access refers to the lack of opportunities that minority groups may have to education, internships, entry level jobs and promotions, due to potential financial barriers and a shortage of connections.

Bias and tokenism is the objective of hiring someone based on the diversity they can bring to the team, which can damage inclusivity and retention in the long-term.

The pipeline gap must be addressed by stakeholders who are empathetic and invest in D&I, as well as through the wider culture of the business.

Minority groups and women faced a significant impact of COVID-19, for example, with a higher care load, anti-Asian sentiment and career breaks.

We ended the session by analysing three specific case studies, as well as asking Valentina our own questions and sharing our thoughts.

As always, all ideas were shared in a safe and confidential environment.

Valentina Coco is an Ambassador of EMEA Recruitment, as well as the CEO and Founder of Coco Consulting & Coaching. She trains teams to develop an inclusive working environment.

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