Cordant Group is becoming a social enterprise. The family owned business is currently the UK’s third largest recruitment and services business and the move will see the majority of the companys’ profits reinvested into social programmes focussing on three areas of expertise: pupils, workers and the healthcare sector.
The move will see all shareholder earnings capped, all executive salaries capped at 20 times that of the lowest paid worker and a new audit scheme for the business centring on Social Impact measurements. The business is set to work with education expert Richard Gerver to enhance work preparation for pupils within the education system, will offer new opportunities for upskilling and training the temporary workforce provided to clients and the delivery of technology platforms to improve healthcare provision on a local and national basis.
Within the company a profit share scheme will replace the usual pay rise structure, thereby ensuring their employees benefit from productivity gains and that any increase in pay is sustainable.
According to Phillip Ullmann, chief energiser at Cordant, the move was in part inspired by a business opportunity in the health sector where it was suggested to him that the project should be delivered as a social enterprise. According to Ullmann this caused him to do an amount of research into the area and the more he found out the more he was convinced that becoming a social enterprise was not only right for the company, but was the general direction all businesses should be taking.
“Capitalism as it stands doesn’t work any more,” he says. “It was developed at the time of the printing press – when that was the only way to disseminate information. Nowadays we can transmit data much faster and as a result all the institutions we have – including the joint stock companies – need to change as well.”
Ullmann notes the level of inequality in the world – including the statistic that half of the 7.3 billion world population are living off less than $2.50 per day – the challenges concerning international health care systems, and says businesses must now address these issues rather than purely the concerning themselves with the returns they deliver to their shareholders. He acknowledges these are high mountains to climb, but at least setting targets and aiming to be of benefit to others is a way of contributing positively to making the world a better place.
“It’s about using the capabilities of businesses – whether through technology or people – and using that to make improvements,” asserts Ullmann. “Business cannot just leave these issues alone anymore.”
Jamie Reynolds, managing director of PMP notes how the work of the recruitment industry naturally affords itself to social enterprise activities. Being able to do something which affects people’s lives every day is extremely important and the change in status for the business means it can foreground the way it treats its own employees (consultants and candidates alike) and contribute to the careers of those outside the business. “This initiative is unique in the recruitment world and is a further differentiation for our business which already leads the way in terms of service delivery,” he says.
“It means we’re more holistic in our approach. PMP represents nearly fifty per cent of the group turnover but Cordant is a broad group of business units wth expertise in various sectors including education and health. By applying our skills and capabilities we also can address some of the wider issues around those sectors as well as meeting the demands we do at the moment.
“Currently the business is growing and we’re in a competitive market for candidates both for clients and for ourselves,” Reynolds adds. “This move will also be about about us being an employer of choice and also a partner of choice, with the aim to be the most ethical recruiter in the UK.”