Meet Board Chair of Dress for Success Auckland, Andrea Hardy FRCSA
Dress for Success Auckland is part of a network of affiliate branches operating across New Zealand and worldwide. The organisation is dedicated to empowering women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
At the helm, as the newly appointed Board Chair is RCSA Fellow and recruitment professional, Andrea Hardy FRCSA. The Brief sat down with her to discuss her work with the organisation and why recruiters need to support women returning to work.
You have recently been appointed Chair of the Auckland branch of Dress for Success. Can you tell us about the organisation?
Dress for Success Auckland was founded 22 years ago being the first affiliate in New Zealand and the first outside of America. Our clients are generally on return-to-work programs referred to us by the Ministry of Social Development, Auckland Business Chamber and various training institutes and other charitable organisations. Our Stylists work with our clients to understand what job they are interviewing for, what clothes are therefore appropriate and basically give our ladies that Cinderella experience, decked out in clothes, shoes, accessories and makeup. Our ladies leave us not only suitably attired for their interview but also with a new level of confidence that comes from looking great. Once employed, we also offer a range of wrap around services through our Career Centre offering a range of employment retention programs.
With over 25 years’ experience in the recruitment industry, why do you believe it is important to provide women with long-term career support, mentoring and workshops?
There are many barriers for women returning to the workforce and for some, after the struggle of finding a suitable job, retaining employment can be just as difficult as they learn to juggle the demands of work and home life.
Long term career support helps them understand they are not alone on the journey and allows for continued growth and development, creates a sense of worth and shows women that they can be role models in their own families and communities as their success grows.
Can you explain how the Career Centre PWG programme works to empower women in the workforce?
Our Career Centre PWG program provides skills that develop the whole person and assist with employment retention. Workshops include Networking, Resilience, Financial Literacy, Goal Setting and Change Management to name just a few - all skills needed to help women to succeed in the workforce and at home. As our clients gain new skills, they gain more confidence and are more empowered to continue reaching forward.
You are the author of the book, "Employment Search Skills - Practical Tools for Securing Your Dream Job". What is the best advice you can provide to women preparing to enter or re-enter the work force?
Don’t sell yourself short – remember your skills and be proud of your success, and don’t be too hard on yourself if it is not going to plan.
You oversee a team of over 110 active volunteers and several part-time staff and contractors to support women in need across the greater Auckland region. How do you manage such a diverse workforce?
I really can’t take much credit, it’s a shared job with our Executive Manager and Showroom Managers in Central Auckland and Manukau running the day-to-day operations. Thankfully all our Employees and Volunteers are passionate about what they do and our cause but, like any business, the team needs to feel supported and recognised. As such we have a Board Liaison to feed in any concerns, a Reward & Recognition program recognising achievements and length of service, regular training sessions and encourage participation in various team events.
Dress for Success Auckland is dedicated to changing the lives of over 1300 women in need each year, what legacy would you like to leave as its Chair during your tenure?
Without sounding like a cliché, naturally the goal is always continuous improvement to leave things better than when you started.
As a leader I believe in empowering those around me to be successful and share the accountability as well as the reward. I hope that our Employees, Volunteers and our Clients we support come away feeling valued and supported in a way that is personal to them.
How can people support Dress for Success?
Naturally as a charity we are always looking for funding to allow us to run our services. We accept donations through Corporate Partnerships/Sponsorship, shared events, private donation and through grant applications. The donation of quality interview appropriate clothing is also important to maintain our stock of clothing that own clients receive. This includes clothes, shoes and handbags.
Where can they find you?
Our Auckland Showrooms are based in Mt Eden and Manukau and there are seven affiliates across New Zealand. Information can be found on our website https://auckland.dressforsuccess.org/