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Shared Value Recruiting

by
Richard Long
Feb 14, 2012, 4:16 am ET

During the six years I led talent acquisition for Deloitte New Zealand, much of our employment brand strategy revolved around humanizing our brand and creating an engaged talent community. We aimed to do this through allowing people to experience our culture and what it was really like to work at Deloitte NZ. We did this through social media initiatives and other means. Our culture and value proposition appealed to some and not to others — this was our aim and I believe it was successful.

So we had this engaged talent community — that’s great, what’s next?

Recruiting Needs to Look Outside of Recruitment

Fellow Kiwi Paul Jacobs (@pauljacobs4real) has often said to me that corporate recruiting needs to look outside of its own field for real opportunities, ideas, and inspiration to innovate and add value.

2011 was the final year of my MBA study; one of the real benefits of this time was that I read daily about new thinking coming out of other business disciplines and sectors. A trending topic that resonated with me was how thinking and practice around corporate social responsibility is evolving.

I was hooked on this topic after reading the article Creating Shared Value by Harvard Professor Michael Porter and Managing Director of FSG (Foundation Strategy Group) Mark Kramer. They describe the shared value approach as different from more traditional corporate social responsibility as its emphasis is on delivering an economic return to the company while it delivers a positive social impact.

Put at the core of business strategy, rather than the periphery, shared value has the potential to drive value for business and society. In this respect, business should view social responsibility as an opportunity to increase economic return rather than an obligation or an expense aimed at creating a better brand image.

Shared Value Recruiting

I am certain there is an opportunity for recruiting as an industry to spearhead this new approach through innovation and collaboration. The focus must be commercial, and there are sound reasons for recruiting leaders to consider this approach:

  • Employees and job seekers want employers to be doing meaningful work in this space
  • Create brand influence and job seeker engagement through allowing an opportunity for talent communities to be involved in your socially responsible initiatives
  • Engage job seekers who have a greater alignment to your companies values and culture
  • Ultimately the aim is to create a deeper engagement with your brand and drive better quality of hire

This is not a fad; some of the world’s largest household names are adopting this approach. Companies are increasingly placing social responsibility at the core of their business strategies and they require aligned talent who can drive these strategies and maintain their competitive advantage. Surely this is where we as recruiters come in!

Just prior to me leaving Deloitte NZ in October 2011 we developed and initiated a collaborative project with shared value thinking as a foundation of our talent attraction strategy. The aims are simple:

  • Create brand influence, drive deeper levels of engagement, find more suitable candidates, have better offer to acceptance ratios and drive increased quality of hire
  • Provide increased value to our talent community
  • Provide increased value to society

I’ll be discussing the Deloitte NZ journey and this model in more detail during my session at the ERE Spring Conference. The aim of this initiative is to shift the Deloitte NZ talent community to a talent movement — an engaged and energised community that has a purpose.

The New Normal

The world is changing, society is changing and business is changing. Recruitment leaders shouldn’t be responding to this business change. We should be leading it. The opportunity is there for corporate recruiting to innovate and act commercially and strategically — for the good of the businesses we serve, the markets we operate in and the society we live in.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Keith Halperin

    Thank you, Richard. Could you elaborate a bit more on what “shared value” means- while I’ve read the definition, I’m afraid the concept still eludes me. Perhaps some examples would help me understand better….

    Cheers,
    Keith

  2. Richard Long

    Keith
    Greetings from NZ – thanks for your message.
    The concept of shared value can be defined as “policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company whilst simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions of the communities in which it operates.”

    Examples of this concept all come currently from outside of recruitment specifically – however I plan to talk about a model we initiated at Deloitte last year that draws on shared value concept, at the ERE conference. Here is a really good article that frames it up and includes examples http://www.guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/blog/latin-american-companies-creating-shared-value

    Major household names as mentioned in above article are using this approach to increase profit whilst also benefitting society. I guess what I’m saying is there is an opportunity for recruitment to pick up on this new concept to enhance the value we add to business (i.e. deliver better recruitment results), whilst simultaneously benefitting the community in which we operate.

    I’m just taking a concept that is being implemented outside of recruitment and looking at how recruitment can capitalise on it.

    Cheers,
    Richard

  3. Keith Halperin

    Thanks Richard. I’m afraid that I still don’t understand beyond saying that “being a good corporate neighbor helps recruiting.” Could you give some examples?

    Cheers,

  4. Richard Long

    Hi Keith,

    As I mentioned above, the only recruitment specific example I have is one that is currently in progress and which I plan to discuss at ERE (sorry – saving that for my session). Otherwise you’ll have to look at the other examples I have already provided which are all outside of recruitment in order to try and understand the concept and how we could apply it in recruitment.

    However in essence, your current understanding is correct in my opinion.

    Cheers,

  5. Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Richard. I appreciate it it. Good luck with the project, and the discussion at ERE.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  6. Richard Long

    No problem at all Keith…

    Cheers,
    R

  7. Clare Letourneau

    Hi Richard and Hi Keith:

    If I understand you correctly, I would have to say that Microsoft has been doing that for year. Kevin Johnson left Microsoft and became CEO of Juniper. When I was at Juniper, they too adopted the “Shared Value” approach to everything, from Recruiting, to On-boarding, Training and Development, community service, etc., with everything they did. It was the “Juniper Way”. The idea is that if everyone has the same shared value they will work together better, etc. With Gen Y coming on board, the model is going a step further. Gen Y looks at not only at the companies Shared Values, but want to see them living it within their business practices. IBM is another example, a few years back, they were one of the first companies to embraced the gay community. They reflect it in their Shared Value, benefits, their advertisement, community project, etc., and no surprise …their sales increase too. So, it is no secret that it works.

    I think it is a good thing. It forces companies to really be more socially responsible in their business practices. Social Scientist and marketing, have been studying Gen Y for a while. When they enter high school and college, they already had them profiled pretty well. If you read up on them, you see they will be a major driver in the market in the coming years.

    Clare Letourneau

  8. Richard Long

    Thanks for the comments Clare. I agree with you – a number of large companies are now taking this approach including Microsoft, Johnson and Johnson and Walmart to name a few. They have realised the potential for the shared value approach to increase profit for their company.

    So it’s about taking that philosophy and applying it to recruitment to see how it can help us get better outcomes – it also helps society. But first and foremost it has the potent to help us deliver better recruitment results.

    I also agree re your comments about Geny Y job seekers. Working for a socially responsible company is important to Gen Y and consistently ranks amongst their top concerns when assessing potential careers.

    Richard

  9. Keith Halperin

    The $64G question: who gets to decide whose values are shared and whose are not? Perhaps some folks would like to work for a homogenous corp-cult where everyone is expected to think alike and “drink the Koolaid” but I’m not one of them…

    Cheers,

    Keith “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” Halperin

  10. Richard Long

    Keith -I think you’ve missed the point. It’s not about sharing ‘values’ its about creating additional value and sharing that (value – as in economic/commercial value…).

    Agree – stay away from the Koolaid.

  11. Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Richard. I hear you, it’s about adding value. The question remains: what value and whose? Is it something like supporting some local kids’ ball teams, supporting “Race for the Cure” runners, giving to the local theater company, or is it something like not selling battery chickens in your store or donating to Kiva in employees names? Also, if a company like Walmart decided to do something like support “Habitat for Humanity” to help poor people get homes while having a good chunk of its employees being the working poor, what would that say? Personally, I’d think if a company really wanted to shine in this area, it could have good wages, benefits, and working conditions for all its employees, and treat them with genuine respect and autonomy. If it wanted to get all “all altruistic,” it could offer to match individual employees’ charitable donations/allow them paid time off to volunteer.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  12. Richard Long

    Hi Keith – firstly, its great to get some debate and discussion going round this and your participation is really appreciated because it helps clarify a tricky topic. From my perspective what you talk about above is traditional corporate social responsibility – so donating time, cash or resource to causes. What I’m talking about is how can we improve what we do and create greater commercial value (i.e. more profitable, better recruitment outcomes – to be recruitment specific) whilst simultaneously making progress on important social issues. The bottom line is – just that; bottom line. This is about creating greater value for business 1st and foremost – it recognizes that society must have successful business and that business is actually the key to solving many societal issues. I agree – it has to fit the business. In the case of Walmart they re-engineered their distribution/supply chain and saved 100′s of millions of dollars – doing this had a significant positive effect on the environment (shared value). Nestle are another example – have a look at this link and it explains their approach http://www.nestle.com/CSV/CREATINGSHAREDVALUEATNESTLE/Pages/CreatingSharedValue.aspx
    As a recruiter – my thinking is, how can we leverage the shared value approach to bet better business outcomes. Working for the types of organizations I do I definitely wouldn’t be around for long unless I was focussed on commercial performance first and foremost and shared value supports this.
    Keith – are you going to ERE conference. I would definitely like to catch up with you and debate this further!

    Cheers,
    R

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