James Witcombe, winner of the 2018 RCSA Outstanding Contribution Award, talks to The Brief about why corporate social responsibility is more than handing over a cheque and why it’s important to ensure it’s the right fit to make a real difference.
James Witcombe could easily be the poster boy for how to do Corporate Social Responsibility well.
The Associate Director of SMAART Recruitment has been overseeing the organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program for the past few years and 18 months ago, committed the company to develop a long-term partnership which is already reaping rewards for those involved.
SMAART’s informal partnership with Fitted For Work, a program designed to help women experiencing disadvantage return to the workforce in sustainable jobs, was last year named the winner of RCSA’s CSR Award.
Fitted For Work provides practical help for women from a wide variety of backgrounds by providing clothing for job interviews as well as assistance with writing resumes and cover letters for job applications and interview preparation.“I had heard about Fitted For Work and knew they were trying to assist women who were from disadvantaged backgrounds get back into work,” Witcombe said.
“We were looking for an organisation we could partner with for the long-term. We didn’t want it to be a one-off where we write a cheque or have a fundraising day and that be the first, last and only thing we have to do with them.
“We wanted our contribution to be a more sustainable giving of time or money because we felt that would allow for that organisation to have some surety about their programs. It was also clear that our recruitment skills could be used to help those women looking for work.”
SMAART is an Australian recruitment firm with 25 consultants specialising in accounts, marketing, office administration and volume recruitment for contact centres, sales and retail. The company, which has offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane averages 500 placements each year.
SMAART now hosts two workshops a month for Fitted For Work participants with another 22 planned for the remainder of 2018.
Additional workshops are offered to those who are incarcerated at both of Victoria’s women’s prisons to prepare them for when they are released.
“The idea is Fitted For Work knows these workshops will be offered consistently for them and it gives the women two opportunities every month to get some help from recruitment professionals,” Witcombe said.
“The program started with the aim of providing suitable clothing for women struggling with disadvantage to help improve their chances of securing employment. Not having suitable clothes matters because the women are not confident to go for job interviews or to even apply for jobs if they know they don’t have the clothes to wear to interview.
“We feel that sharing our knowledge about how to write the best cover letter, how to identify skills for resumes and how to prepare for interviews also helps to build the confidence of the women involved with Fitted For Work while offering the practical know-how to find a job.
“As soon as we ran a couple of these sessions, it was easy to see the impact we were having.”