On 27 February, ACEVO members gathered in Leeds for one of our regular CEO forums. The topic of discussion was ‘Values-driven recruitment: attracting people with passion’. Philippa Fabry, director at Peridot, shared insights from her experience working in the sector.
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Recruitment is often a challenge for civil society leaders, especially when it comes to senior positions. It can be hard to specifically identify what characteristics are indispensable for a certain role, and which are less important or can be developed through training. Even if you have a fairly clear idea of the skills and characteristics you are looking for, it is even harder is to know if a candidate has these qualities with the snapshot you see during the application and interview process.
To attract a candidate that shares your organisation’s values, has the necessary skills and is willing to work for less money then they could get elsewhere, it’s necessary to create a values-driven recruitment process. To help with this Philippa presented a set of characteristics of what she calls ‘purposeful leadership’, which are:
- Vulnerability: acknowledging it’s impossible to know everything
- Empathy: seeing others for who they really are
- Curiosity: someone who enquiries and is open to connections
- Creativity: interested in innovative approaches
- Conviction: true to purpose and a firm believer of the cause
- Courage: accepting fear and the possibility of failure
- Patience: avoiding the compulsion of doing things quickly
When recruiting, Phillippa recommends that CEOs do not look for a set of skills that can be ticked off a list, but instead ask themselves how candidates can bring these leadership qualities to the organisation.
It is also important to position your organisation as an employer of choice: showcase your diversity, your values and culture. Show that you celebrate different ways of thinking. To do that, you need to put yourself in the candidates’ shoes and disseminate messages (not only job ads) in their world. Ask yourself if someone from outside civil society would look at the platforms you are using. Would they understand the language that is used or is it full of jargon, are there any visual aids, what image do the pictures create?
As far as the actual interview, Philippa recommends the creation of a two-way process that allows candidates to evaluate the organisation alongside your evaluation of the candidate. Think of interviews as an opportunity for co-production, with service users and stakeholders involved. Consider the possibility of having staff members meeting the candidate, or even replace a formal interview with a full day process involving informal chats.
Most importantly, make sure those that will make a decision have training on unconscious bias and preventing group-think, which will help to ensure that all candidates are treated and considered equally.
If you are a leader that is not happy with the quality and values of the candidates you are currently attracting this should tell you that there is something wrong with either the role description or the process. Repeating the same process will most likely yield similar results so don’t be afraid to recruit a bit differently to find the person that can add the biggest value to your organisation.
For more information on values-driven recruitment, please get in touch with Peridot.