It’s clear within minutes of ‘meeting’ Ann Swain – founder and Global CEO of APSCo, an international trade body representing the professional recruitment sector with operations in the UK, Germany, Singapore, and Australia – in season two, episode seven of IYB that she is one of life’s great doers.
Swain set up APSCo, 22-years ago and “said I would do the job for a year and then get a proper job back in recruitment but I have been a bit too busy ever since…,” she revealed with a laugh.
As Global CEO of APSCo, Swain is responsible for making sure “our global operations are being run efficiently to deliver an amazing service to support professional recruitment services in those areas.”
Away from APSCo, Swain is a Tottenham Hotspurs “season ticket holder and very proud of it” but confessed that, really, “my life is all about APSCo and providing lobbying and governmental support to protect the interest of the recruitment market.”
Recent projects have been nothing if not varied. Swain revealed: “We have been heavily involved in helping “the government create furlough schemes. We had direct calls from 10 Downing Street regarding setting up the furlough scheme and, to be honest, I think they did a good job of that.[...] There was a willingness to try and do a good job and hopefully, we were helpful with that.
“In Singapore, it’s always about relationships with the Ministry of Manpower to make sure they understand the value of recruitment companies and how they can work in Singapore. In Germany, it’s often about how contractors can work and in Australia, they have seven states, so we have been focused on different things.”
During the 30-minute episode, Inside your Brand’s host Daniel asked Swain why she thought that the recruitment industry was still not taking diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) seriously enough?
“There are a number of reasons,” shared Swain. “The recruitment industry is generally made up of smaller businesses and they always have something that is about to drop on their head. DE&I is always in their mind but it seems to be something to get to when you have the time and more often than not, you don’t have the time.”
“Added to this the recruitment market and also other industries look at their own businesses and think ‘we don’t have a problem’ and therefore that DE&I may not be as big an issue as it’s made out to be. They aren’t measuring it so they don’t know if they do have a problem or don’t have a problem.”
She added: “And thanks to Covid, most businesses are just focused on surviving so any strategy they had in place has just been thrown up in the air and smashed.”
When asked whether she thought the government should step in and urge companies to take DE&I more seriously, Swain replied: “I do, actually. I think there will be a move to strengthen, legally, what firms need to do.
“And let me tell you: if you are white and have some semblance of education it’s easy not to really know there is such a big problem because your experience doesn’t give you insight.
“If you feel I am not prejudiced against disabled people or gender/race, whatever it might be – and my mates aren't either – it’s easy to assume that nobody is.
“Clients and their demands will make us move more quickly. That means we can be a catalyst for change for the whole working environment. That’s a sexy position to be in.”
The episode ended on a positive note with both Daniel and Swain sounding hopeful that, post-Covid-19, there will be an opportunity to reimagine what the workplace looks like.
“We know from all the studies from the likes of McKinsey, the value of having a diverse workforce,” said Daniel.
To this end, APSCo is “launching something called ‘Empower Me – an online mentoring programme where you get matched with a mentor,” revealed Swain. “We will be encouraging APSCo members to act as mentors. I really do think that will change the nature of recruitment as a profession.”
Consisting of 25 weekly episodes, season two of Inside your Brand is focusing on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DE&I) and Accessibility in the 360-degree sourcing, hiring, and onboarding process.
Episode eight featuring Dan Robertson, Director of Consulting at Vercida.com, airs on Thursday June 24.