New embedded values sets Forward Role apart from the pack

After pitching against much larger recruitment agencies, Forward Role’s thinking outside the box pays off in winning business.

In the wake of the pandemic’s shockwaves around the world, recruitment agency Forward Role started investing heavily in innovative workplace solutions. As a small boutique agency, with 80% of its work either being exclusive or retained, creating a partnership with clients, knowing them inside out and offering solutions to their problems was at the forefront of the firm’s approach.

McKinsey (2020) research shows that when companies invest in innovation during a crisis, they end up outperforming competitors by 10% on market capitalisation; and those that invest in innovation post-crisis outperform competitors by 30%.

Forward Role’s managing director Brian Johnson explained: “When we were in the midst of Covid, and the economy was a little bit unsure, we were still getting the same questions from candidates and clients around diversity & inclusion [D&I], but also what were our green credentials? That’s when we started to think about solutions and whether we could do things differently.”

In January 2021, Forward Role went into action with a new D&I strategy to embed into its candidate recruitment process for clients. In addition, the company made a separate move to support the environment through its business, by partnering with progressive start-up Greenify. Greenify helps clients to offset their environmental footprint of new hires.

Now Forward Role is a tier one recruiter for JD Sports’ marketing and digital department in a partnership that requires Forward Role to recruit across 200 roles through to September 2023.

Lauren Bradley, group head of talent at JD Sports, said Forward Role’s “focus on providing additional solutions that match our own values and focus as a business were the deciding factor in choosing them”. Bradley continued:

“In particular, the insight gained from the diversity & inclusion data that they provide as part of the whole recruitment campaign was aligned to our internal EDI [equality, diversity & inclusion] policies.”

JD Sports’ own EDI approach has included the 2020 launch of an inclusivity campaign designed to educate and train staff on key topics such as equality, diversity, biases and cultural intelligence, and introducing an internal D&I forum that aims to engage, learn and promote dialogue around potentially sensitive subjects.

Forward Role’s plan included securing thorough EDI reports from candidates after they had engaged with employers. This would allow their clients to know if they were an employer of choice for a diverse workforce. When the agency told JD Sports how their reports would support their internal focus on EDI with insight into the types of people interested in working for them, Forward Role got the chance to show the company just how this would work.

Johnson said over 3,000 candidates were considered for roles in the JD Sports recruitment campaign, with 600 people actually responding. “Every single person we spoke to for JD filled out a questionnaire. All their responses gave an insight into the type of people interested in sports, and it showed the ratios matched against the general population.”

Candidates were asked to anonymously identify personal characteristics such as age, disability, family, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, and religion. 

I mean, we’re recruiting 200 roles for them at the moment, so you can imagine the environmental impact for them this year”

According to JD Sports, Johnson said, it wasn’t about the price involved in awarding their business to a recruitment agency, but the candidate experience an agency could provide and how they, as an agency, could support them through JD Sports’ transition of growth.

In addition to this, JD Sports was keen to understand Greenify’s credentials on environmental offsetting, which not only included carbon, but also plastic waste, CO2 emission and deforestation. And under the Forward Role-Greenify partnership, every single person hired for JD Sports would be environmentally offset for a year.

Within two months after making 12 hires, the environmental strategy had already had an impact.

According to JD Sports’ impact report, as a result of the 12 people hired, 96 trees were planted, 152 tonnes of carbon were offset and 408kg of ocean-bound plastic waste captured and recycled.

According to Johnson, the idea of carbon neutral hiring started to influence JD Sports’ internal team. He said: “Their internal team like talking about it, and they like the fact that they’re recruiting in a green way. JD Sports was one of our first clients who got on board with this in a big way. I mean, we’re recruiting 200 roles for them at the moment, so you can imagine the environmental impact for them this year.”

Forward Role believes that applying more in-depth thinking and imagination to potential clients’ needs has managed to set them apart in a complicated world.

Image credit | Shutterstock

Viewpoint: How recruiters can be proactive on ESG

ESG (environmental social governance) is a hot topic for organisations, permeating every aspect o

9 May 2022

Tech & Tools: May/June 2022

Customer relationship management (CRM) and application tracking systems (ATS) are the recruiters’

IT/Telecoms 9 May 2022

Is the future for identity checks totally digital?

A new study by Juniper Research has found that the number of users of digital identity documents

9 May 2022

Business Advice: How to recruit in the metaverse

The pandemic has recast the working landscape, but while ‘where’ we work has evolved, ‘how’ we wo

9 May 2022