11 December 2017 by Henry Ker
Recruiting should not be confined to the familiar and uniform, but use flexible working to attract the best candidates
‘It is about getting really talented people into your company ... because I just wanted the best people working with me and my clients.’
So says our lead interview this month, Janet Cooper OBE, founder and partner at Tapestry. It may sound obvious; however, getting the best talent into a company is not something that many organisations seem to prioritise.
Convenience often trumps ability in the recruitment process as organisations looks for potential employees who tick certain boxes, have similar experience and can fit into the standard nine-to-five, five-days-a-week work regime (which Cooper suggests ‘seems to go back to the Dickensian age of working in daylight’).
Cooper takes a refreshingly different approach. ‘It is all about diversity,’ she explains. ‘Companies can be so focused on a “cookie cutter” approach of taking on people who are just like them, because that has worked in the past and anything else is too difficult. You can miss out on all sorts of ability by doing that.’
Instead, she advocates agile working; making her company’s working setup flexible and able to accommodate the best candidates, no matter their other commitments – commitments that might cause other companies to be uncertain about employing them.
She adds that ‘bringing in people from different backgrounds includes other career paths’, and cites examples of athletes and armed forces personnel as talent outside traditional avenues that add to her team.
This is admirable but the real test is business success; and Tapestry certainly seems to be enjoying its fair share of that. However, the most striking fact for me was, in Cooper’s words ‘we have had no one resign in five years’. You can read the full interview here.
‘Talent’ is an appropriate theme for my editorial this month as we have just had the annual ICSA Awards. It was a great evening, celebrating the best of the profession.
Sarah McLaughlin of Allied Irish Banks won the Company Secretary of the Year and you can read an interview with her here. Like Cooper, she cites the value of working with great colleagues (‘without a strong team, my role would be impossible’), while finding ‘a leader that inspires you, and that you can learn from’ is her recommendation for any governance professional at the start of their career.
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