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We Need to Talk About Recruitment

‘Love you and leave you.’ ‘They are seen as more driven for economic outcomes, rather than people and purpose.’ ‘I think they’re highly transactional businesses, all about volume, all about turnover.’ ‘Exploitative employment practices. I know not everyone is like that but it’s part of the industry.’ It wasn’t great to hear. Nor was it surprising. Unscrupulous labour hire practices are part of Australia’s modern slavery dilemma and deserving of public scrutiny, disdain and prosecution. But to IPA, a social enterprise committed to delivering recruitment services that change lives, this perception of recruitment agents was only one part of the picture. We needed to talk.

That’s why our Executive General Manager, Paul Barbaro, told a SEWF audience last month that we are sticking with scale. The recruitment business model thrives on volume: a job placement attracts revenue. IPA’s social enterprise model also depends on scale to optimise the profits we reinvest back into community. Our scale is a key enabler of community inclusion because 100 per cent of IPA profits go to our parent entity, genU, and make up about one third of total organisational revenue funding services supporting community inclusion. genU depends on IPA to provide a sustainable income stream when public funding is increasingly uncertain.

A point worth reiterating is that our scale strategy seeks to optimise, rather than simply maximise, profits. As we emphasised at SEWF, growth and impact don’t cancel each other out, so long as your commercial expansion aligns with your vision and purpose. Our conversations at SEWF endorse our strategy to engage and track more employers, such as Australia Post, that seek IPA’s recruitment services in support of corporate responsibility and ESG targets (i.e., social procurement). We are similarly resolved to activate our national reach and jobs pool to collaborate with social enterprises across Australia that are skilling and preparing untapped talent for transition to mainstream jobs.

As an Australian-owned recruitment social enterprise with a multi-million-dollar annual turnover, IPA Personnel is big and bold enough to seek to rehabilitate ‘recruitment’. We want to apply our commercial acumen and unique profit commitment to showcase recruitment’s place in inclusive communities. As explained in a video collaboration with Torrens University Australia’s Social Enterprise Hub, we are generating a recruitment virtuous loop via both our jobs pool and candidate pool – the two essential components of recruitment service delivery. This hinges on the outcomes we deliver and demonstrate, from our effectiveness in boosting candidate wellbeing and workforce participation to our contribution to community services and employment pathways for people with disability.

After our panel discussion, a SEWF delegate told us, ‘The way that your business as a for-profit entity is supporting very impactful businesses helping jobseekers with barriers, I’m kind of inspired, I think it’s really cool.’

We agree. For IPA Personnel, it’s also the least we can do.

The Torrens University Social Enterprise Hub launched its Social Exchange initiative at SEWF22. IPA was a proud partner of the SEWF Conference, the world’s largest annual gathering of purpose-driven Australian and international changemakers.

Alison Carter

Social Impact Manager | alison.carter@ipa.com.au | LinkedIn

Alison is a skilled networker and committed boundary spanner, which means she is energised by making connections between ideas and people to achieve results. In terms of IPA, this means asking ‘what did we do, how effective were we, and is anyone better off?’ She has loved the opportunity to develop and host the State of Social Procurement webinar series to help raise awareness about the opportunities created through ‘business for good’.

We’re the only national recruitment agency committing profits to community services.