The global labour market is becoming more competitive, creating a serious challenge for employers seeking to hire the talented and productive workers they need to drive their businesses forward. In an effort to confront this growing challenge, the world’s most innovative companies are adopting social value business strategies aimed at minimizing risk to their workforces and gaining a competitive advantage in the world marketplace. In so doing they contribute materially to many of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development – a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a sustainable world – unanimously adopted by the 193 member countries of the UN last week.
How so? Whereas traditional businesses perceive poverty and other social issues as extraneous problems unconnected to their day-to-day operations, today’s leading companies adapt their business models to cultivate vibrant and resilient communities, which improves their corporate reputations, reduces supply chain costs, increases revenues and widens profit margins. The savviest companies build social value right into their HR hiring practices. Understanding that long-term financial prosperity depends on sustaining a productive and cohesive workforce, these businesses choose to hire strategically from the distinctive social, economic and cultural groups living in their local communities – an innovative practice that strengthens their corporate profiles and reduces their recruitment and human resource costs.
Local hiring of this kind is changing the way transformational companies support and engage the people who make and purchase their products. These companies realize that local labour markets offer opportunities to hire workers who are motivated to excel in the workplace but who have been excluded from the traditional labour market because of disabilities, lack of experience, language barriers, and other cultural and socio-economic impediments.
Aboriginal people, people living with disabilities, new Canadians, people recovering from addictions and other disadvantaged people seeking to enter or re-enter the workforce can offer transformational companies a competitive advantage in the tightening labour market. The reason for this is simple. People from these groups can exhibit better work performance and a deeper commitment to their jobs and companies than other workers. Human Resources professionals are wise to recruit people from these distinctive social groups.
Research demonstrates that in addition to making a direct contribution to poverty reduction and social inclusion, companies that hire people with employment barriers gain a number of direct business benefits, including lower recruitment costs, reduced staff turnover, enhanced brand reputation and increased productivity.
Creating inclusive workplaces with a diverse workforce enables companies to mirror their communities, better connecting them to the customers who buy their products. Integrating social values with business goals through Community Hiring creates cascading ‘win-win’ opportunities for social value companies and the people living in their communities. While employees benefit from decent jobs and an improved standard of living – advancing economic prosperity and stabilizing the community – the companies that employ these people gain valuable local expertise and insights into new markets, creating innovative ideas that can lead to more inclusive design opportunities.
People’s expectations are changing. The long-held belief that businesses stand apart from their communities, their social role limited to providing jobs and making charitable donations, no longer applies in today’s marketplace. The world’s most innovative and transformational businesses understand that their role in society has evolved. For this reason I encourage Chief People Officers seeking to create and sustain a dynamic labour force to read my Community Hiring Guide, which outlines the steps necessary to design and implement an effective and profitable Community Hiring strategy that benefits both employers and the workers and customers who live in their local communities. You’ll also find several helpful employer’s toolkits and illustrative case studies.
For those interested in a broader social role for business check out this Social Value Business Guide which provides advice and action plans to accelerate solutions to poverty, social injustice and inequality and hasten progress on the UN Global Goals.
Originally published September 28, 2015 on LinkedIn
Coro Strandberg is a Canadian pioneer, thought leader and visionary in marketplace innovation to advance social, environmental and financial progress. She works with businesses, governments and industry associations to create strategies and pursue business models to address social and environmental risks and opportunities that propel society towards a sustainable future. She regularly publishes research, tools and guides on sustainability and corporate social responsibility leadership on her website.
Coro has a tri-sector background in business, government and non-profit leadership working in social, environmental and financial roles. She has 20 years of experience as a Corporate Director, three as Board Chairperson and 6 years of industry association experience.