Rays Of Hope - Recruiting For Social Enterprise

Rays Of Hope - Recruiting For Social Enterprise

I have to confess that I actively try and avoid thinking about the big issues our World faces. It depresses me. Climate change, food and energy security, terrorists, even a rise in right-wing nationalism. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a pessimist and have also been accused of being a wee bit cynical at times.

My main source of pessimism is that I perceive there to be a fundamental disconnect between what people have evolved to care about and what we really need to care about.

Humans are a community animal, but one that has evolved in pretty small societies. We care deeply about our families, our loved ones and our immediate community. We will suffer hardship and misery to provide food, energy, comfort and security for those closest to us. Unfortunately very few of us would do the same for emotionally removed, global issues that arguably pose a greater threat to our nearest and dearest.

There are rays of hope though. Rather strangely I see some of these through the lens of recruiting for entrepreneurial businesses.

At Scede we’re fortunate enough to be working with a number of Social enterprises that give me cause for genuine and uncharacteristic optimism. I’ve discovered that there are leaders who don’t just crave power and influence, but actually want to change the World for the better and are doing so by trying to grow great businesses they will help the rest of us get there.

Working for Scede I’m currently acting as Head of Talent for a disruptive renewable energy company, Bulb and another of my colleagues on Scede’s leadership team runs recruitment for Farmdrop, an ethical food e-tail business that challenges the supermarkets’ hegemony and how those businesses negatively influence the agriculture and food production industries.

I do believe these will both grow to be truly great companies. It is very easy, for example to be cynical about the renewable energy industry, which in many ways exists to commercially exploit a zeitgeist rather than facilitate real change. But these guys are different. They really care. Not just about environmental issues and renewable energy, but about their staff and their customers.

So what does this mean for recruiting... perhaps it will surprise you to know that (despite how much we love data at Scede), this is really just about a feeling.

I’ve read somewhere that the placebo effect is far more effective if the person who administers the medicine really believes they are providing the cure. I believe a similar analogy applies to recruiting for social enterprises, but maybe without fake pills!

You might have super smart employees, good marketers and a great idea (Bulb and Farmdrop have all three), but on some sub-conscious level people just seem to know if you really mean what you say about your social conscience. If you do, then the people that come into contact with your business will feel it in every interaction. It doesn’t matter if that is traditional marketing communications, PR, talking to your customer support team, through your social media or other forums or perhaps just bumping into one of your staff in the pub.

This makes recruiting for such firms a great pleasure. At Scede we help fast growth businesses scale quickly by embedding ourselves in their company. We find much of our time working with ‘traditional’ start ups to be spent identifying and approaching people about jobs. We have to create a story and compelling proposition to generate a pipeline of candidates. Of course we also set up systems, reporting and use bags of data to help get our clients reach their goals. Believe me, this is a hell of a lot easier when people are knocking on your door, desperate to work for your company. Because it just ‘feels’ good.

As recruiters we like to think we can influence and automate and iterate everything it takes to hire the best people. This is from employer brand and the employment proposition, the interviews and job offers right through to the onboarding process. This is hubris. For a growing company trying to build a great team the ‘feeling’ that is created by having a genuine social conscience is like fairy dust. You can’t sit in a HR or branding meeting and make your company have it, you can’t discover it through surveys or brainstorming, neither can you capture it by employing consultants or marketers.

You either have it or you don’t.

So if you’re feeling miserable after watching Trump on the news or you’re trudging through the drizzle to work on a monday morning then cheer up! All is not doom and gloom. If a day working in recruitment can give you a little lift, then all is not lost. And it’s not just the companies themselves that makes me feel this hope, the huge number of young candidates who seem motivated, interested and even willing to take a hit on earnings to work in these businesses is a hugely encouraging sign for all of us.