Walking the Talk – Accountability Programs for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Work

Corporate America has been talking about DEI for decades. But we still have some way to go:

One reason for this disconnect is from a lack of accountability programs to hold employers to their DEI claims.

Turning Tables

Until now, the power dynamics in the job market have mainly favored employers. They had the luxury to sift through talent. Jobs were scarce, and talent was plentiful. Employees had to prove their eligibility and worthiness for openings and were often made to go above and beyond to get in front of hiring committees.

But then came the pandemic. And the accompanying mainstream shift to distributed teams and remote work. As the world locked down, the job market opened. Talent became highly sought. And job openings multiplied.

In search of more meaningful careers, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, workers ditched jobs in record numbers, with an average of more than 3.95 million workers quitting their jobs each month in 2021.

The fierce talent competition turned the power dynamics in favor of employees. Now, job seekers are the actual recruiters. They assess a brand’s social presence. They assess the business’s approach to social responsibility. They read reviews about fair practices and treatment from previous employees, clients, and other applicants.

Vendors and service providers are also following this moving trend. As a result, the entire recruiting field is changing.

The Rise of Accountability Partners

In recent years, there’s been a rise of organizations and influencers who hold firms and public institutions accountable. These independent bodies check and validate companies’ DEI initiatives against the claims in their manifestos.

And then, there are organizations like the Black Marketers Association of America (BMAA). BMAA was founded in 2017 to serve Black marketers and the entire marketing industry.

Our Experience Working with BMAA

Over the last year, we worked to secure a Gold-level partnership with BMAA.

The vetting process was thorough. It was an excellent chance for VentureWeb to demonstrate its commitment to DEI, and to act on its strategic plans of building a smarter, more responsible business in attracting, recruiting, and retaining diverse talent. As part of the vetting process, BMAA asked that we supply our DEI strategy and policy, to confirm that we have established remote work policies, and overall to show that DEI is a key corporate initiative.

Equally important, BMAA asked for proof of the internal communications sent to our workforce highlighting our commitment to, and responsibility for, DEI. Sending an internal memo to the organization was always our intent, but with an expanded audience of BMAA regulators, we became more mindful of our words and the wider impact of our message.

“Rightfully so, BMAA not only held us accountable, but through their screening process, they helped us become more conscious and aware of the impact of our words.” -VentureWeb’s DEI Committee

What this latter requirement taught us was how messaging has the power to go beyond intention. Messaging is a marker of agency, of safety, and signals trust to our employees that VentureWeb is serious and committed to DEI. The timing of our messaging also acted as the launching point of our wider DEI strategic plans and initiatives. Once staff were officially made aware of our plans and intentions, it was go time to put all the work into action.

We experienced similar levels of rigor with organizations like Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce while applying to their Certified Supplier program to be recognized as an LGBTQ2+ owned business.

The experience was no different when we applied to become certified as a minority business owner with the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council.

Each organization had a unique process. But they all had one thing in common: holding businesses accountable for who they claim to be and the work they portray.

3 Key Takeaways from Working with BMAA

One thing is true about learning—it’ll happen even when you don’t expect it. The process of securing the partnership with BMAA reminded us of a few key points:

  • Communication is always serious business. Too many times, companies fall into complacency with their spoken or written word. But it’s vital to remember how profound and delicate words can be, especially when dealing with sensitive issues like DEI.
  • DEI is more than just a trendy acronym. Every few years, the job market will see buzzwords come and go. While they’re the rave, some will pretend to care, just to appear in the know.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion are real issues affecting real people. As individual entities and collectively, the decisions we make will impact the future of work for many.

Giving people voices, being considerate about our differences, and upholding fair treatment are humane ideals that we all need to revisit and enforce.

Accountability is a powerful tool. There are no standards without metrics. And DEI remains a hazy goal if no one enforces it. We’re grateful for entities like BMAA that hold organizations like ours to a definite standard of diversity and inclusion. In the few short weeks of working with BMAA, we’ve benefitted from their Resources page, particularly their selection of Black and Other minority stock photo sites. With their Gold Partnership, not only did we get a steady stream of qualified applicants for our open marketing and creative positions using their platform, but we also gained access to their marketing freelancer directory. As an agency that works with freelancers and contractors, this was an added bonus for our organization.

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Associate stories: cracking the interview code as an immigrant

This is the second in a three-part series of associate stories where we chat with our associates on their experience working with VentureWeb to land a job.

Editor’s note: The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.

The story of Russell Eustachius, Indian-born-and-raised Finance Operations Manager, is like that of Laura Canupp—with a twist.

Shortly after arriving in Canada as an immigrant, the whole country went into a lockdown three days later.  In Russell’s words, “It was really hard. People were losing jobs. There were no jobs in the market. And for a newcomer, that can be quite scary.”

“Because that’s the last thing you expect. You prepare to struggle to get a job while you try to settle into your new environment. What you don’t prepare for is a market crash,” he continues.

We sat down with Russell to learn about starting his career in Canada, and above all, how newcomers can prep for their first interview.

Immigrating in chaos

Moving to a new country amid all the uncertainty that preceded the global lockdown takes some guts. But that’s just what Russell Eustachius did.

“I was one of the lucky ones that came in before the world shutdown. But I can’t say if I was lucky or unlucky because it was a huge trying period for me,” he says.

Russell had spent eight years working for one of the big consulting firms in Hyderabad, India. So, what followed when he started applying for jobs left him flustered.

“I applied for a lot of jobs, but nothing came through,” Russell explains.

“But with that many rejections, it was getting scary for me. My finances were already getting depleted,” he continues.

But as they say, fortune favors the bold (and persistent).

When preparation meets opportunity

“Finally, one of my friends told me about an opening with a corporate client of VentureWeb’s,” Russell says. After doing his own research on VentureWeb to understand what they were all about, something special really won him over.

My first point of contact with VentureWeb. Diana Worthington’s professionalism and confidence were crucial in assuring me that I wasn’t talking to some shady recruitment organization,” he continues.

The rest, they say, is history.

Cracking the interview code

Russell wasn’t about to blow his first shot at getting a job. And Diana made sure of that.

“She prepared me for the interview. She told me what the interview was about, what the employer expected, and what to emphasize from my resume. And if I wanted to get this job, I had to present myself that way,” Russell says.

And that is key to cracking interviews here. Because if you don’t know what the employer is looking for, you can be the best of the best, and you still won’t get the job,” he continues.

Between the first round of interviews and the second round, Russell thinks he must have asked Diana hundreds of questions at different times.

“One thing I appreciated with Diana was her patience. She listened to every single question. If she didn’t have answers, she would ask me to hold on and find the answers for me. She once took a call by 8:00 PM,” says Russell.

After that, the remaining interviews were a breeze. And Russell had finally gotten a job.

For Russell, his biggest takeaway from the interview process was once you understand what the employer wants and the nuances of your environment, you go into the interview better prepared and relaxed.

Settling in after the chaos

Aside from the usual heart-racing period (happens to all of us) while waiting for his offer letter, it’s been a fantastic experience.

“All these set me up properly. And even though it’s my first job in Canada, they didn’t treat me like someone desperate for a job. They were always encouraging and helpful,” says Russell.

“Diana then introduced me to Susy Garcia, VentureWeb’s Staffing Manager. And Susy was also amazing. She took me through the organization and how it works, the team makeup, who I am reporting to, and who I’m supposed to support. And these are such essential details,” Russell continues.

This is Russell’s first contract job. And in his words,

I have never been in an environment where I was the immigrant. So, I didn’t realize the pressure that comes with it. But it’s been great with how things have turned out. Knowing that VentureWeb has my back is significant. Throughout the process, I never felt out of place. They made me feel welcome.  Not like I need to prove myself every time. They didn’t make me feel like an immigrant,” he continues.”

So, what’s next for Russell?

“From the feedback I’ve been given, I have performed well, and I’m valued in the company,” Russell says with an effusive smile.

Photo by @clarktibbs on Unsplash

Associate stories: Building a contractor career amid the pandemic

This is the first in a three-part series of associate stories where we chat with our associates on their experience working with VentureWeb to land a job.

Editor’s note: The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Laura Canupp’s story is one of perseverance.

Or should we say boldness?

A marketing professional with almost a decade of experience in various roles and organizations, Laura started a new job just before the world went into early grips with what the rest of 2020 would mean for humanity.

As she puts it, she felt fortunate to find work as the most stressful event in recent human history was just kicking into full gear.

But it wasn’t long before she was left scrambling for work.

The global economy had gone into a tailspin with the pandemic as the world travel and trade shut down, and with global unemployment going up by about 100 basis points to 6.47% in 2020, Laura was out of a job.

But Laura is one of those who love to look on the bright side. So even though she was feeling the pinch, “I wanted to use it as an opportunity to find something that worked for me for my schedule as a mom,” she says.

But then, even the most optimistic souls also have times when they are down. In this chat with VentureWeb, Laura shares how she went viral on LinkedIn, got an associate role with a global Fortune 500 through VentureWeb, and gained incredible support during her job search.

Going viral on LinkedIn

I lost my job in September. I never thought I would be writing a post like this when I saw others post about layoffs, furloughs, separations, and job loss. I may not have directly had COVID-19, but I’m one who is feeling the effects of it. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve tried every outlet I can think of, but it hasn’t led to a job offer.

A couple of months after losing her job and applying on every available job platform she could, Laura was at her wit’s end.

“So, I kind of made a plea on LinkedIn and just put my story out there,” Laura explains.

Laura's post

Laura’s post went viral!

“For someone with a marketing background, it was crazy to witness the power of social media firsthand,” she says.

And that’s when everything changed.

A recruitment agency that supports you

Her post got into Diana Worthington’s feed, a recruiter at VentureWeb.

“Diana reached out to me and asked me if I would be interested in an opportunity. And I said, ‘yes, please, send me the details,'” Laura says.

She had seen Laura’s LinkedIn post and thought she had an opportunity that might be what Laura was looking for. Once Diana sent over the job details, Laura got hooked as she read through the description.

“I’m like, wow, this is all of my skills and all the work I enjoyed doing. Plus, I saw that it was remote. Which meant I could work from home,” she explains.

Laura was is a working parent. So that means despite her wanting to find work and getting back into the groove, she was selective about the roles she looked to apply for. Laura had spent the past four to five years figuring out what she wanted to do, what skill to learn more, and what she enjoyed doing.

“It was nice when looking at the role with VentureWeb’s corporate client; it would expand my skills and let me do some of the creative projects I enjoy doing. I had been gradually moving away from marketing into communications. So, this was the perfect move for me,” Laura explains.

And from thereon, the VentureWeb support system kicked in.

“She [Diana] called, and we had a basic get-to-know chat. And to talk about what the opportunity entailed and every other little detail. Then we had another call to discuss my skills. That was sort of my first interview,” Laura says.

Diana then worked with Laura to reformat her resume while also making sure to suggest a salary scale they could go forward on based on her level of experience and budget of the role. Next, Diana pitched Laura to the client hiring team, highlighting her relevant skills and why Laura would be a perfect fit for the role.

The VentureWeb recruitment process is a proactive and engaged one. And Diana made sure to prep Laura before the interview. Plus, VentureWeb’s long-standing, committed partnerships with its clients means they understand their clients well enough to properly prep candidates for the interview.

“It was nice to have tips and pointers that made sure I showed I was the right fit for the role,” she says.

Two days later, Laura got the first indication that she was potentially getting her first offer after about 75 days of being unemployed.

“It was just a positive experience that I had found work,” says Laura.

“I had found something that checked all the boxes of what I was looking for,” Laura continues.

Getting back into the groove

“Once I found out that they wanted me, it was a matter of getting set up with starting the role,” she says.

This was around Christmas time. So, while waiting for her computer and to get all the paperwork done, Diana introduced Laura to Susie, VentureWeb’s staffing manager.

“Diana had been lovely and helpful. But then I got Susie, and we kind of hit it off from the get-go,” says Laura.

As the staffing manager for VentureWeb’s associates, Susie was Laura’s go-to contact for transitioning into her new role and staying with associates for the entire duration of their programs. Staffing Managers are the go-to, forever support to VentureWeb’s global associates.

“She kept me in the loop of when I was going to get my equipment, getting set up and getting started, how payroll would work, my schedule expectations, and what my first couple of days would like,” she continues.

Laura signed her offer letter before the beginning of the Christmas holidays. So, she got to enjoy Christmas with the family. No pressure!

“I got to start a new year and a new job,” Laura exclaims with delight.

However, this was Laura’s first remote “contract” role.

“In my previous job, I had built a bond with every single person. So, I was afraid I was going to lose the camaraderie that came with in-office work. But I quickly found out that the team I got on had a similar bond even though we aren’t all sitting together in the same room,” she explains.

But she had to put in the work.

“To overcome not being in the office and the typical face to face interactions, my first meetings were one-on-one getting to know me video chat discussions with every member of my team. We talked about our skills and what we enjoyed doing and sort of “how we got here.” And then they shared with me what their role is and how I might help and work with them in the future,” Laura says.

“It calmed my fears and anxieties when they spoke so highly of the company but especially each other. Plus, it’s great to work with people that are literally across the globe. That’s something I have never done before. So, to work with someone that is in an entirely different region and time zone has something special about it,” Laura continues.

She wasn’t also expecting to enjoy the remote aspect of the job as much as she did.

“I thought that being an outgoing person, I would miss going into the office and seeing people face-to-face. But the luxury of the schedule of working from home has been amazing. I have a two-year-old son, and it allows me to get ample time with him,” she explains.

It’s the little things

Laura is grateful for how the stars aligned and how the hiring process was handled by the folks on both sides (the client and VentureWeb).

“I feel fortunate that both Diana and Susie are regularly checking on me to make sure I still like what I’m doing and I’m still happy on my team. I appreciate that someone is checking in, and I have a go-to person if I have any issues. There’s this sense of security that if anything happened, there’s someone I could be open and honest with,” says Laura.

So, eight months after signing her offer letter, what’s next for Laura?

“I was excited to find out that all of our contracts got renewed for an additional year. And so, it’s great to know that the client appreciates the work that I do and that they find value in me. I am excited to continue advancing my skills while enjoying my job.

Photo by Merakist on Unsplash

Learning and Unlearning: Our DEI Story

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all playbook for rolling out a successful diversity, equity, and inclusion program at the workplace. But you quickly learn once you begin the journey that there is no going back.

It’s a lifelong commitment. At VentureWeb, it was no different.

We started with the intent of building a DEI strategy and plan. However, after six months of employee and executive engagement, various iterations, brainstorming sessions, and too many cups of coffee—we realized that what we were working towards as an organization was business transformation.

Eight months later, we now recognize that a well-executed DEI strategy is the impetus for a lifelong commitment to doing the hard work of transforming an organization for the better.

How did we begin our DEI journey?

We began with a collective commitment from employees eager to make an impact (including one of our executive leaders who had personally and professionally experienced the need for equality and inclusion in the workplace and the marketing industry). These keen employees were the original members of the newly formed DEI committee.

Getting employee commitment and executive buy-in taught us our first lesson—a successful DEI strategy requires lobbyists and, more importantly, alignment at the executive level.

“Our company has always had such a global footprint and reach, yet we still had strides when it came to bringing in talent that we have never tapped into. We knew that bridging gaps from a diverse world and cultural experiences would make our company better and make our clients more successful. I believe our organization’s intention was always there to create an equitable and diverse workforce, but now we were setting the framework to make accountable actions towards our purpose.”

Maredol Sarne
–Maredol Sarne, VentureWeb Talent Acquisition Specialist and original DEI committee member.

Next, the committee surveyed employees to define what DEI meant for them. The responses poured in and were packed with meaningful stories of employees’ perspectives and experiences. Collectively, these responses would serve as the definition VentureWeb adopted. These definitions would act as NorthStar for all our DEI efforts. We ended up with the following statements:

  • Diversity is the presence of different cultural perspectives, ideas, backgrounds, and beliefs within our workplace. Bringing these different characteristics together guarantees unique voices and perspectives.
  • Equity is about equal access to resources, benefits, outcomes, and opportunities regardless of race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, heritage, etc. It’s about giving people the same opportunities to succeed.
  • Inclusion is about feeling welcomed, respected and being a part of the group regardless of one’s differences or particularities. It means we accept and fully embrace what makes each and every one of us at VentureWeb unique.

By defining and mutually reinforcing these principles within our organization, we expect that DEI will become embedded in the fabric of our organization in the long term.

Our people will change. Our makeup as an organization will alter. Our actions and intentions will change.

All for the better.

What have we learned so far?

So, what are the specific lessons for anyone about to begin their DEI journey?

First, you’ll need to give your employees the paid time and space to contribute to DEI initiatives. You don’t want individuals feeling guilty because it looks like they are deprioritizing work to participate in improving diversity, equity, and inclusion practices.

Making it easy for your people to participate not only alleviates the pressure to fit in DEI work in an already packed calendar. It also signals a broader organizational commitment to improving DEI in your workplace.

Following that, we also learned that transparency could act as a robust foundation for accountability. Your DEI metrics and goals must be visible to everyone—employees and customers alike.

From sharing and discussing where you are coming from to sharing your future and plans and present landscape, both internal and external stakeholders want authenticity over artificial performative diversity claims.

Action is more important than intention. And your stakeholders can quickly sniff out the disconnect if you are playing to the gallery.

“Instead of brands having the ultimate decision in who they hire, we’re amid a beautiful shake-up where job seekers get to decide which companies deserve their candidacy. In creating a DEI strategy at VentureWeb, we were committed to putting in the work first before promoting and marketing our story. As conscious consumers, jobseekers see through flashy performative diversity marketing and will ultimately move on, or worse, let the world know. We aspired to do better. We wanted our story to reflect our reality.”

Katie Appleby
Katie Appleby, VentureWeb Organizational Effectiveness Lead, and original DEI committee member

Perhaps, the most significant knowledge we can offer is that you must avoid asking underrepresented employees to bear the responsibility of educating non-marginalized employees. We didn’t learn this the hard way but instead had read countless stories of people who were asked to do the work for others and the subsequent pressure or burden it had caused. Fortunately, for those of you starting out in DEI planning, there are a plethora of learning resources available, and many of them are free. Here are only but a few resources available we have found most helpful:

Mentioning underrepresented employees brings us to our final lesson. Focusing on diversity alone is insufficient because an employee’s sense of belonging (inclusion) and experience of fairness (equity) is critically important.

In closing out these lessons learned, spoken from the community of VentureWeb employees, “Diversity, equity and inclusion are mere words. They are compelling concepts that live not just on paper, but that affect how people feel about themselves, about their team, about their work and about the community within which they live.”

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

VentureWeb – Inside Our Transformation to a Diverse and More Inclusive Agency

Diversity, inclusion, and equality take commitment.

And in the world we live in today, we dare say that ignoring it has consequences. People leaders like Thea Palmer, Senior Account Director & Services Lead, VentureWeb UK, believe that “businesses will suffer if they overlook their responsibility of building and protecting a workforce that is inclusive, diverse, accessible, and welcoming to all.”

She continues, “We all must play a part in creating this change. Brands must seize this opportunity to do better.”

Considering that 88% of the advertising and marketing industry workforce is white and male, there’s much work to be done.

Creating a diverse and inclusive culture can inspire a significant impact on business and society in the short and long term. And according to the Canadian Marketing Association’s (CMA) 2021 Diversity and Inclusion in Canada’s Marketing Sector report, roughly 94% of people see a diverse workplace as a business growth opportunity.

In other words, it’s more than a buzzword.

As Chris Barnes, our North American Managing Director, puts it, “representation from diverse voices in business is an important part of creating exciting new dialogue and ideas. A welcoming and inclusive environment means that team members can be free to be themselves and not be constrained.”

Chris continues, “the business impact is clear, and employees can be who they really are and contribute freely to the workplace. It’s a simple but powerful statement by the business and its leaders that drive positive and impactful change.”

Therefore, at VentureWeb, we are firmly committed to making socially responsible business practices a symbol of our brand.

We understand the importance of diversity in the industry and have committed to becoming socially responsible recruitment and staffing agency.

Why is Diversity & Inclusion Important to VentureWeb?

At VentureWeb, we recognize that racism and discrimination are still very much present in today’s industry. And ethnic minorities continue to be under-represented in leadership positions.

As a business that provides Fortune 500 companies with recruiting and staffing services, we must act responsibly in the wake of a labor market undergoing a long-awaited and necessary transformation that places inclusivity, equity, and diversity at the forefront.

Traditionally, the marketing industry (and probably the world as a whole) has defined the skillsets found in a formally educated and credentialed holder as superior versus a hiring process that values cultural experience and a broader world perspective.

As a business, we can bridge that gap.

Diverse and inclusive marketing teams make the world a better place for all. Why?

Because they’re able to create better strategies and achieve superior impact among the communities a brand seeks to reach.

Plus, in scenarios where a business fails to see the importance of becoming more responsible, the risks are far greater than the reward. Companies that choose to stay the course without transforming run the chances of finding themselves stagnant and stuck with a limited talent pool as potential employees won’t regard them as employers of choice.

Steps We are Taking as a Business to Improve Diversity & Inclusion

As we transform our hiring processes and expand our workforce to reflect better the communities we serve, we are taking steps to understand and respond to the needs of our diverse workforce and talent pool.

In recent times, we’ve been collecting applicant demographics to identify gaps in recruitment and pinpoint how our workforce makeup compares to the marketplace that has historically been and is presently disadvantageous to equity-seeking groups.

The data helped us better understand who may be excluded in our recruiting and hiring efforts. In turn, devise policies to better attract and hire stronger representation from marginalized groups.

Some of such policies include being mindful of the language used in job postings.

For example, we worked with a third-party human resources provider to evaluate if our job descriptions leaned too heavily on attracting men over women. This exercise resulted in us changing sentences such as ‘We are looking for a leader driven by…’ to ‘We are looking for a leader who is inspired by…‘ to attract more women to our job postings.

This year, we have set a new target in attracting and proposing four out of 10 candidates as racially or ethnically diverse. We have instituted processes that made sure our recruiters shared job openings on community pages and forums that attracted more diverse candidates. While at the same time identifying active and ongoing training for employees on inclusivity, equity, and diversity training at all levels and positions.

And there’s more.

We are increasing our sick, vacation, and mental health budgets. Plus, we are building stronger ties to the local community through collaboration with the Aboriginal and Minority Council, the LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.

To deliver on strategy and keep ourselves accountable for this change we have set up an internal Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion committee. Led by Chris Barnes, who will act as our Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) lead, the committee is charged with planning and administering our DEI strategy.

 For Matthew Jankelow, our Chief Executive Officer, we still have work to do at all levels.

“At VentureWeb, we’re building a socially conscious organization, one that commits to increasing diverse representation at all levels of the business. Currently, our representation reflects that we have 67% of women in leadership, 50% of people of color in leadership, 25% of people of color in internal executive positions, and 50% of LGBTQ2+ in internal executive positions,” Matthew explains.

“I’m accountable for us to continue to change for the better,” he continues.

What does this mean for our clients?

Working with VentureWeb means they partner with a supplier who is contributing to making the labor market more inclusive with a more robust representation of the diversity that makes up the global workforce.

About VentureWeb

VentureWeb is a top global recruitment and contract staffing agency. We have successfully transformed several multinational blue-chip clients’ marketing teams focusing on the Marketing, Communications, Creative and Digital industries.

Are you looking to make a career switch into the marketing, digital and creative industries?

Visit our careers page to start your journey today!


What’s a Welcome Ambassador?

Katie Burke

Written for VentureWeb by Katie Burke

If you haven’t lived the immigrant or refugee experience, consider for a moment trying to get on your feet while learning the language, systems and cultural norms of a foreign country completely from scratch. Imagine your skills, experience, credentials, and education not being recognized and having to re-establish your professional path from zero.

The good news is, there’s nothing you need that you don’t already have to make a difference.

Want to be a change agent? Here are some simple things you can do to act as a welcome ambassador in your organization:

Widen your circle. You never know when someone’s been feeling invisible or ignored—try being that person who says hello to everyone. Go out of your way to make sure everyone who should be included is included in meetings, information sharing, activity planning and gatherings. And don’t forget your online circle—following a broad range of voices on social will help to start cultivating even more common ground.

Speak clearly (not loudly). English as a second language-speakers in your network might be processing information quickly and searching for the right words to express themselves. Be inclusive—not exclusive—by choosing clear, concise, and jargon-free language, and be mindful of moving too quickly.

Make space for all voices to be heard by explicitly encouraging equal participation in conversations and meetings. Model patience and active listening by letting everyone take the time they need to express themselves. Confirm when you understand or ask for clarity without getting hung up on delivery. Help a newcomer or a typically quiet participant gain status by giving credit wherever credit is due, from big wins to good ideas.

Challenge attitudes that you know are not right. The status quo never went away on its own without some discomfort. But, be sensitive to putting someone in the spotlight who doesn’t want to be in trying to support them. A true ally does the work to find out how they can be helpful without assuming they know best.

Be brave. Imagine the mental fortitude it takes to put yourself out there each day when the public and professional spaces you navigate don’t seem to fully understand or accept you. If immigrants and refugees can do this, you can be brave enough to put yourself out there to introduce yourself, offer a small kindness, ask questions (respectfully), and integrate feedback—both subtle and overt. You’ll make mistakes, and be better for it.

Cultural diversity isn’t just a complexity to navigate, it’s something we should aspire to in order for our communities and workplaces to better produce creativity, innovation, relevance and quality of outcomes. By being a welcome ambassador in your organization, you could help make the re-establishment process easier for someone deserving of an equal chance.

Do you have an immigrant/refugee story to tell? Share your experience with starting over in the full article comments here.

10 Tips to Help You Land Your Next Gig (Quickly), From a Senior Recruiter

Written for VentureWeb by Leis Vokes

Looking for work? There is no time to spare! Let’s hop right to it.

  1. Applying for jobs is your new full-time job.
    Apply every single day. Put at least the same effort into landing your next role as you would any other big, important project.

    Keep in mind, a good job application is a process that takes time and consideration to highlight your most relevant experience for that particular role. You’ll want to prioritize, and IMO—jobs that have been posted for 4+ weeks are usually stale, meaning the company already has selected their first round of candidates to interview. You can still apply to these roles, but try getting your application in to the one posted 1-2 days ago first.

  2. Get yourself in touch with a recruiting agency.
    Recruiting or staffing agencies like Ventureweb can connect you with a variety of clients and opportunities, saving you the time of having to hunt these down yourself. Some of these roles may not be posted publicly yet, and many agencies also offer helpful feedback, like resume reviews and interview coaching that you wouldn’t receive otherwise.
  3. Be alert.
    Most companies and job sites have alert features that you can subscribe to, so you’re notified every time a relevant job is posted (based on what skills or industries you select). Instead of scouring sites every day, set up several personalized job board alerts and spend your time finding organizations and businesses that interest you. Now follow those on social media (especially LinkedIn), sign up for their alerts and stay informed.
  4. Review your resume.
    Does your resume fit onto 1 page? If yes, it’s likely too short (designers, don’t come @ me). Is your resume >4 pages? If yes, it’s likely too long. According to a 2018 study, recruiters spend roughly 7 seconds on average reading a resume. That means you have literally seconds to convey why you’re cut out for this job.

    Want to stand out? Stick to key accomplishments, projects, results, core responsibilities and of course, keywords.

  5. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date.
    Recruiters and employers scour sites like LinkedIn every day for suitable candidates. Keep your profile updated with as much detail as possible around your key accomplishments and what you’re looking for. Did you know LinkedIn has a feature that lets you tell potential employers you’re interested in new opportunities? Turn it on!
  6. Toot your own horn.
    Put yourself out there – join relevant professional associations, local groups, networking and/or business referral sites. Reach out to past colleagues, clients or associates to let them know you’re exploring new opportunities. Start a blog, share your ideas about trends in your field and/or industry. This is a time for developing your voice and focusing on your accomplishments.

    Psst! Recruiters and other business contacts often ask candidates for other suitable referrals. If people don’t know you’re looking, they won’t think to mention your name.

  7. Pay it forward.
    Photo by Life of Wu from Pexels

    Offer your mentorship while you have the time, or volunteer with a local charity—both of which can be done remotely. You can make a positive impact in your community while meeting new people and gaining experience. This is a great way to keep your skills fresh while also helping others, which can help with keeping your self-esteem up while in between jobs.
  8. Line up your references.
    Identify 2-3 people you can ask to speak to your capability and work habits. Some companies ask early in the interview stage and others will ask later, so think about when you are comfortable having your referees contacted and you’ll be prepared when asked.

    Heads up! Before you share someone’s details, be sure to let them know to be on the lookout for a call or email from the prospective employer. Companies hate having to track down references that don’t reply. Preparing your references saves time, and makes you look even better.

  9. Alumni benefits.
    If you attended college or some other academic institution you likely are part of an alumni network. If you’re not certain what benefits or resources are available to you as an alumnus, reach out and inquire. Alumni networks often provide job search resources or can connect you to prospective employers.
  10. Keep your head up.
    I’d be doing a huge disservice if I didn’t acknowledge that job searching can be a tiring, frustrating, and demotivating experience for people of any & all backgrounds. Please, remind yourself (daily if you have to) that it can take time, and that’s not a reflection of your ability or what you have to offer. Take breaks when you need to, talk to a friend or your recruiter for support, and stay positive. The next leg of your journey is just around the corner.

My day job involves overseeing a recruiting team who match top talent to business critical roles across North America and Europe. Let me know how I can help you at leis.vokes@ventureweb.com

How to find the right candidates and have a great interview remotely

Written for VentureWeb by Chris Barnes

LinkedIn and other professional sites have helped open the world of talent to all businesses great and small. It should be easier than ever before to find and hire great people, right?

The challenge is that the sheer volume of talent can become daunting if not totally overwhelming very quickly.

In a matter of weeks, the global pandemic dramatically shifted the way we work and where we work from, broadening the talent search landscape. Possibly for good – as we predict a lasting change in attitudes and workplace policies, to become more supportive of remote teamwork. A lot of skilled people are looking for jobs right now, and many hiring managers have the option of casting their net wide for the first time.

If COVID-19 has led to unprecedented work from home arrangements, or raised a need for new skills in your organisation, staffing in current times might feel especially complex. With all these changes brought on so suddenly, informed advice can help. Here are some considerations for finding talent in current times.

Redefine the basics

How will remote working plug in to existing structures and norms? It’s important to not only define the basics of the role, including reporting lines, but also take into account employee engagement. How will the successful candidate be supported and are there specific skills that would set a candidate apart for a remote working arrangement? Identify performance objectives and management tools & strategy for engaging remote team members. By redefining the basics, we’re setting the requirements needed to start the talent search.

Explore your options!

If you haven’t already, look into your options with agency partners. While talent portals will facilitate applications to your job posting, agency partners cultivate and retain their own network of talent. They’ll also work with your budget and specific needs in mind, and coordinate interview and contract logistics.
Supplementing your in-house hiring team with help from a staffing agency can provide a more targeted search and take the work of pre-vetting off your plate, helping you get to interviewing the right candidates faster. In addition to doing the heavy lifting in sourcing and presenting great talent, staffing agencies should be able to help with ongoing management and HR support from the point of hire.

Facilitate with technology

Face-to-face is still face-to-face when it’s digital. With video interviews, you can just as effectively get to know your candidates and assess their suitability for the job. Video interviews are also a great opportunity to assess the basic communication, organisation and technical skills of remote applicants. Are they on time? Can they adapt to a new software? How do they handle technical difficulties? These might seem like mundane qualities but in the long term–especially with remote team members–these things do matter.

Ask the right questions

You’ll also want to ask a new variety of questions for a remote hire. For example, a video interview should explore some work from home-tailored questions such as:

  • What’s your preferred communication style at work?
  • Do you have experience with collaborating from a distance? If so, what are some of the challenges you’ve encountered & how did you overcome? What were some of the benefits, or what did you find worked well (e.g. work day structure, project management processes, helpful tools, etc.)?
  • What are some of the particular challenges you might anticipate with your current work from home setup?
  • What experience do you have with cloud-based file sharing, organizing and information security?
  • How might you approach finding the information you need in order to respond to a request or problem resourcefully in a virtual environment?

For more info, get in touch at staffingsolutions@ventureweb.com

How are we managing?

Katie Burke

Written for VentureWeb by Katie Burke

At VentureWeb we coordinate staffing placements in nearly every continent (someday, Antarctica…)

Right now, some of the businesses we work with are struggling with the abrupt change to working from home brought on by COVID-19. But after more than 25 years in the biz, we’ve learned that as complex as things can get, there are a few evergreen rules of thumb when it comes to successfully directing from a distance.

In the hopes of sharing real, practical advice that will make things better – here are our top 5 tips for managing remotely:

  1. Communicate like your job depends on it
    If there is one golden rule we’ve learned from engaging with people around the world, it’s that you simply can’t take for granted that your communication style is good enough as is. Every time you ping, call, email anyone – remind yourself to be friendly, and be exact. Work just goes better with a good relationship established, and you are guaranteed to save on wasted time if you anticipate questions and provide that information or helpful context up front. It’s painful watching smart and capable people suffer because of poor direction. Make sure you’re being clear on your ask – will everyone understand who is doing what, when, how and why?
  2. Join with video (seriously, just do it.)
    Adjust your work culture if needed, and prep team members to expect video when you connect. I know this isn’t everyone’s comfort zone, but misunderstandings go way down with a strong relationship in place, and I can vouch for it as by far the fastest way to establish that from afar. With great background effects offered by Teams and Zoom, there’s no need to worry about whether your workspace looks professional. Meeting face to face digitally is easier than ever, and it pays off.
  3. Keep talking
    Check in frequently with your remote team members and collaborators. There’s no need to fill your calendar with aimless meetings; just make sure you’re staying in touch with each person whose work you oversee and actively keeping the door open for others to reciprocate. When interactions get limited to structured meetings, colleagues will be less likely to pipe up to talk about a minor challenge they’re facing or great idea they might be sitting on. Feeling disconnected is also a huge motivation killer, and can be really hard (but not impossible!) to come back from.
  4. Be an active coach
    It can be so hard to tell someone when a finished product was a little disappointing, or an attitude or approach is just not sitting right. But rip the band-aid off. Giving and receiving feedback gets exponentially easier the more it’s done in real time, and the less things are left to mount into a bigger issue. People want to know how they’re doing, and can really struggle to know if they’re hitting the mark. Don’t let someone’s potential be wasted by underestimating their ability to learn. If something could have been handled differently, support them by providing that coaching and redirection without delay – you could add years to a professional relationship that just gets more rewarding over time.
  5. Pick your platform
    Last but not least – whether it’s Teams, Slack, Skype, Zoom, etc. take the time to consult and test collaboratively, and select one home base that does what you need. This one logistical act will instantly make you more professional and gelled as a team. Most critically for a remote team, you’ll start keeping all your conversation history, scheduling info and file sharing in one place. It might seem obvious, but this one made the Top 5 list for a reason! Get organized, feel smart 😊

If you’re a manager or business owner suddenly faced with remote working and are struggling, reach out to staffing.management@ventureweb.com for a free consult. We’d like to help.
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

Would you consider hiring a fractional CMO?

As an innovative business, how can you get a boost of key talent without committing to the cost of permanent C-suite resources? In finance, IT and even HR we have seen a move over the past few years to introduce “fractional leadership”. Organisations commit to a fraction of a key persons’ time to look at a problem, provide some specialist insight or provide seamless coverage.

However, in the marketing area, this is a more recent discovery albeit somewhat of a contradiction – as marketing as a function was probably an early adopter of the concept of outsourcing specific skills yet has lagged in the fractional C-suite arena. More recently, innovative firms have started to embrace the concept of hiring the most experienced CMO professional available, only for the hours of consultation needed each month and for a fraction of the cost of hiring full-time.
A Fractional CMO can quickly become the right-hand to an existing CMO, as an outside, unbiased peer, to add valuable insights. Where there is no CMO in place, the CEO is usually forced to fill in the role of Chief Marketer in the interim, where a fractional CMO contracted for a fraction of a full-time CMO’s salary with clear objectives and deliverables in place, can get the job done allowing the CEO to focus on their priorities.

A fractional CMO can add value in many ways by bringing their industry expertise, leadership skills and experience to a new environment, but can be particularly effective when:

  1. A business wants to recruit a permanent CMO but knows that it will take time to find the right candidate and the business still needs to move forward while they do this.
  2. Companies with an existing marketing team but no CMO, who would like an independent review of the performance of the team and direction of the strategy.
  3. A small to medium start-up looking to take their idea to the next level and needing CMO-level leadership to generate a distinctive value proposition and strategy.
  4. Companies who need a fresh perspective to re-energise their thinking and new business strategies

It certainly seems to be a quicker and more cost-effective way of getting strategic marketing capability into your business. Beyond that, fractional CMO’s possess a fresh, unbiased outsider’s perspective. They will not be bogged down by company politics and bureaucracy. Instead, they will feel free to point out flaws, voice concerns and give honest feedback and suggestions that revolutionize your marketing function.

So next time you are looking at bringing some senior marketing support into your business, think about hiring a fractional CMO – you might be surprised by the benefits.