Why Social Purpose is Becoming “The Holy Grail” of Industry Awards

13 March 2024

RCSA’s annual awards night is slowly creeping towards us again. On 9 May in Melbourne and 13 June in Auckland, the Industry will come together to celebrate excellence in recruitment. While historically 'Candidate Care' has been the most hotly contested award up for grabs, the tide is beginning turn. A new front runner is emerging as the "Holy Grail" of awards and it reflects a shift in society and priorities within the industry. This award is for 'Social Purpose'.

“I think the world is at a turning point where business is now being asked difficult questions around sustainability, equality, and good governance. This plays into the hands of organisations with a social impact framework,” says 2023 Award Judge and Inclusion Advocate, Yvonne Kelly.

Last year the Australian Social Purpose award was taken out by Talent Nation.

Accordant – The Work Collective received the gong in New Zealand.

Richard Evans, CEO at Talent Nation recalls that entering the award was a leap of faith as the company rarely promotes its social purpose initiatives. The group is the first recruitment agency in Australia to be Climate Active Certified.

Talent Nation collects its award in the Big Top at Luna Park, Sydney.

“Everyone talks about culture, but we're a business that's set up to not only do great work through recruitment, but everything that delivers things back to the community. We have always looked at our impact on the environment.” Accordant- The Work Collective was recognised for encouraging students, particularly Māori, into viable, long term career paths and embracing the community through involvement from their clients and the Red Cross.

“We have been at is a while, says Chief Executive Jason Cherrington.

“It's nice to see the recognition. We do it for the good of the fabric of the labour market within New Zealand and the people that struggle.”

Accordant - The Work Collective celebrate their win at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland.

The judging process last year was incredibly tough. The calibre of entries was unprecedented with an incredible number of examples of agencies making a positive impact on the world emerging. This year’s entries are of a similar calibre.

“Some submissions were larger than others, some were a little bit left-field, but overall, I think the entrants all made a significant effort to be considered, and so as a judge, I felt a responsibility to take it very seriously, perhaps overly so, says Yvonne.

“There were a few entrants who came quite close to each other in my ratings and so it was a bit tricky to separate out a clear winner.”

Yvonne Kelly, RCSA Industry Award Judge

A wide array of businesses, from small to giant are taking up the challenge of using revenue for purpose. Many are now wearing this purpose proudly on their sleeves, but all are clearly positioning themselves for a future world where SDG’s, ESG and CSR are core business drivers.

“I think social purpose should really be judged on social impact, and so when I judges last year, I looked less at ideas, and more at outcomes - real-world results that were driven, sustainable, made business sense and helped with long term positive impact for the communities they served,” explains Yvonne.

“The purpose part is a sort of vision…it’s the actual on-the-ground impact upon which these entrants should be judged.

“I think recruitment has always adapted to changing times. And given the current zeitgeist of commercial, climate and cultural responsibility, it makes sense for the industry to take up the mantle of social purpose. But always more importantly - social impact.”

After all…. making a social impact brings a whole new layer to what it means to #loveyourwork.