I have previously blogged on the call for a robust best practice standard and The Association of Professional Staffing Companies’ (APSCo) ambition to lead the development of a sector-wide, independent and recognisable benchmark for the UK recruitment profession.

We believe that this would ultimately enable HR to control the quality of supply by dictating the levels of service that they would expect – and members of the HR community we have consulted with are genuinely behind the idea.

The potential benefit to the HR sector was highlighted by a guest speaker at our latest Members’ Meeting, where a wide range of stakeholders were invited to discuss and debate the initiative.

Erica Briody, Global Head of Talent Acquisition and Staffing at Novartis, told an attentive audience that she felt that a recruitment standard would help resourcing managers to have some comfort that their suppliers were the right suppliers – but that education and awareness would be key.

She explained that large pharmaceutical businesses typically have thousands of recruitment suppliers to assist in the sourcing and hiring of tens of thousands of employees each year. Erica’s role was to rationalise that number down to just a few hundred – something which proved more difficult than necessary.  “When I tried to understand why we had so many suppliers and how we segment them by expertise – we had little to go on. If I had known that there was a credible standard out there I would have definitely said I want all of our suppliers to have that standard.”

Erica’s sentiment is similar to that of many other HR professionals I have spoken to. Recruitment is a notoriously entrepreneurial sector; however the unfortunate by-product of this is a non-existent barrier to entry. A single, consistent, measure of quality would allow us to regulate our own profession and address the negative perception of the sector. This would enable buyers of recruitment solutions to differentiate quality suppliers from inferior providers, hence improving the calibre of the services they invest in.

The meeting was also attended by Shirley Bailey-Wood, MBE, Director of Information Solutions and Steve Wilson, Senior Consultant Standards Solutions, both from the BSI. As well as Paula Lovitt MBE, Compliance Enforcement and Recruitment Sector Policy Labour Market Directorate for the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD.

There was a firm consensus that any new standard must marry to process and procedure so that compliance can be evidenced. It was also emphasised that any potential standard should join up with the HR profession. BSI has already worked with the HR sector on a principle based management standard for valuing people in organisations.  On the day, Peter Cheese made clear that any new standard for the recruitment profession should connect to the wider issues of human capital.

A recent survey of recruitment professionals found that 77% of members believe that a single, independent, globally recognised best practice standard (designated as ‘kitemark or ISO’) in the recruitment market would be a positive step forward for the sector. However, the recruitment sector’s buy-in is irrelevant unless the HR and indeed procurement community see value in the proposition that is being offered. We at APSCo would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on a Quality Standard for the recruitment profession. After all, it is HR which will ultimately feel the benefits. How would a universal standard affect your recruitment buying decisions? And how should it integrate with existing HR standards?  

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