‘Good Business’ Begins at the Executive Level
15 June 2016 at 11:40 am
Leading by example is key to having a workforce motivated to contribute to the social good, according to Beaumont Consulting managing director Nina Mapson Bone in this month’s Executive Insight.
Nina Mapson Bone has been a recruitment executive for many years, but joined Beaumont Consulting one year ago because she was drawn to the organisation’s strong social values, including a Not for Profit arm which has saved charities millions of dollars in recruitment services.
Mapson Bone herself is incredibly passionate about social issues and this month is taking part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. She said it’s important for executives to be involved in the community to inspire their staff.
You’re participating in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout this month, what makes you care about social issues?
Specifically with the Sleepout, I had quite a troubled teenage life. I had some fairly challenging family circumstances, and I was very, very lucky that my best friend’s family, for all intents and purposes, sort of adopted me for a period of time, and I spent a lot of my time at their house and her mother and father and sister became a bit like my own family… I’m very conscious that, not for that, my life could have taken a very different turn. So I’m very passionate about [causes] like the Vinnies one in particular, because of homelessness, because I think if I wasn’t fortunate enough to have support systems in place I could have gone down a different path and ended up in a very different space, but also things like any of the homelessness charities, Mission Australia.
I also get very passionate about things like refugees because they’re in circumstances they can’t control… I believe all of us have had some kind of challenge or experience that’s been difficult and most of us are lucky enough to have the support in place, whether that be personal or financial or whatever it might be, that gets us through it. But there are people who don’t have that support out there, so I think we owe a duty, for those of us that do, to help those that don’t.
Is this passion something you bring to your work at Beaumont?
It’s specifically the reason I joined Beaumont. I’ve been here a year now and I was so impressed with the values and what they do. We have three core pillars… one of the core pillars of Beaumont – one of the core strategic pillars – is “contribution”, and we actually have a core focus around what we give back to the industries and communities we participate in. So, for example, we do a lot of recruitment in the charity space, but we run our charity recruitment team… as a Not for Profit itself – so we don’t make a cent of money out of our recruitment in the charity space. And we actually just recently passed a fairly big milestone, we’ve worked out since the GFC [global financial crisis] we’ve saved more than 250 charities over $10 million in the equivalent of commercial fees, if they had spent the standard, typical commercial fee. So in some ways that’s a much bigger contribution we can make to the charity space than fundraising, than we all do on an individual level anyway, and it’s something that makes a substantial difference because it means they can spend [money] on whatever they’re actually trying to do to make a difference, rather than on recruitment services.
We also do [fundraising]. For example with the Vinnies Sleepout we hosted a big trivia night to raise funds for it. We had over 200 people – clients and customers and suppliers and friends and family. We had a huge amount of prizes donated, a raffle, a silent auction – a really big event – and all of the staff here got involved, everybody helped pull it together, everybody sold tickets, everybody got donations… it was a real team effort, all the staff were working throughout the night to keep the event going, and we’ve raised about $16,000. That’s a team of people who come to work every day, that’s not in their job description, but they chose to do it. It’s amazing, the culture and the values we have here – that’s sort of woven through the fabric of us as an organisation.
How did your Not for Profit recruitment service get started?
It was actually set up and inspired by [CEO] Nikki Beaumont herself… It’s interesting, she set up the charity recruitment team as a reaction to the global financial crisis. She’d always done a lot of charity work herself individually, but when the GFC hit, a lot of recruitment companies were making people redundant and Nikki’s view was that she didn’t want to let anybody go that had been part of the team or had been working hard, and so she thought, what I need to do is keep them busy though, because there weren’t enough jobs and a lot of the consultants were getting a bit demoralised because there weren’t enough jobs to keep them busy, so that’s when she came up with the idea of combining her love of philanthropy with helping the team here.
So she created the charity team and wanted to do it as a Not for Profit so she didn’t have to charge charities substantial fees and to do it at rates they could afford. But also it created job flow for consultants which kept them busy at a time when otherwise there wasn’t much work to be done, and that kept them all gainfully employed and kept the company going as well. Nobody made any money – it was run as a Not for Profit, and it still run as a Not for Profit – but the profitable side of the business wasn’t doing much at that time, but it really protected everybody’s jobs and it really goes a long way to what the culture is like here.
There’s a lot of different terminology for corporates contributing to the social good. Do you have a preferred term for the work Beaumont does in this space?
We just call it our contribution. We’re not probably as corporate as some organisations, if we were writing something formal we’d say corporate social responsibility, because that’s the accepted terminology, but I guess we’re a bit more relaxed and fun than some of the typical corporates. Contribution is the word we use internally, people get measured on it in their performance reviews, they have to show examples of the things that they’ve done that have contributed to the industries or communities that they participate in, we get volunteer leave every year that people are encouraged to take, that all falls under the contribution banner for us.
What are the challenges of running a Not for Profit alongside the core business?
There are potential risks that have to be managed, but we manage them well so it doesn’t cause problems. The only real risk is making sure that it doesn’t come at the cost of the business, so [we] don’t become so philanthropic that it damages the business, because obviously if we’re not successful as a business we can’t keep doing what we do. We do need to manage that carefully.
But we’re very much about our motto… “placing people first”. That includes everybody in the process – that’s the candidate, the hiring manager, any other stakeholders – it’s not just you and the hiring manager, it’s partners, there’s family, there’s the hiring manager’s boss, there’s the HR person, there’s all sorts of people that have a stakeholder relationship… We place the people first, we do the right thing by all those people and we do it at a level and a speed and a quality that allows us to be successful, which then drives the results we need in the profit-making part of the business to sustain the business to be able to continue to do what we do in the philanthropic sense.
Apart from the social good Beaumont delivers, what are the benefits to the organisation?
It’s huge – you’ve got the tangible and the intangible. The tangible is things like employee turnover, we’ve got practically zero, as far as I’m aware people only ever leave to have a baby and they almost always come back. We’ve got people who’ve been here nine, 10 years, which in recruitment is unheard of. Just from a retention perspective it’s great. It’s also really good from a culture perspective… [it] creates a real sense of camaraderie and teamwork, which makes a huge difference then, say, to how we collaborate with each other when we’re talking about which candidates might go in which roles and working across different teams to make sure we can place the people first and not just make a placement for the sake of making a dollar. It’s really impactful from that perspective. And it’s not why we do it, but it’s also a fantastic sales tool. When we’re talking to clients and candidates about what we do, if they’re choosing between us and a competitor and we’re exactly the same otherwise they’ll pick us just for that reason, so there are commercial benefits.
Do you have future plans for Beaumont’s social contribution?
We’ve just launched what we called Lead NFP, which is our mentoring program that we’re sponsoring in the charity space. With all the recruitment we’re doing in charity we see and we know that a large number of charities simply don’t have the budget for extensive training and development programs. So we have funded an independent mentoring scheme that we are running this year for the first year. The mentors and mentees have met, we use an independent mentoring company, we have an independent selection committee of very senior board level and CEO level charity experts to help match mentors and mentees through a thorough application process. And we’re sponsoring 16 pairs of mentors and mentees all from different organisations in the charity space to work together over the course of the year. They have facilitated workshops, they have networking opportunities across the group, and then they meet informally once a month or so to really allow them to develop and grow. Assuming that all goes well – and the feedback we’re having so far has been fabulous – we hope to continue and grow that beyond this year.
How did the idea for the mentor program come about?
That came about because I’m on the board of the RCSA, which is the Recruitment Consulting and Services Association, and I was involved in, eight years ago now, setting up the industry-wide mentoring program for the RCSA, and I was on the governing committee for it. So the Recruitment Consulting and Services Association runs a very similar program for mentors and mentees across the recruitment industry, and I had seen first hand… the significant difference that made in the recruitment industry.
One of the things we’re looking to do is help lift the professionalism across the industry. There were some big hurdles to get over in terms of competition and it was really successful. So when I came here it was one of the things I talked to Nikki about in our first week together when we were coming up with some new ideas and strategies, and it was something we researched and looked into and kicked off in February this year. We hope it will go for many, many years and grow to be much bigger.