The changing face of social enterprise — Graduate Planet C.I.C
by Alun Severn
Kate Evans (L), founder of Graduate Planet CIC, and Nathan Brown (R), recent recruit to Birmingham company Armagard Ltd, plant a young oak tree at Sheldon Country Park
Despite tuition fees being at an all-time high, more graduates than ever are failing to secure employment that matches their skills and academic qualifications. In 2016, for example, there was a further 2.2% drop in the number of graduates entering skilled, graduate-level employment in the UK and Government figures indicate that around 20% of graduates are stuck in low- to medium-skilled employment.
But this is only part of the story. Feedback from universities suggests that increasing numbers of graduates also want their employment to be socially useful as well as decently paid, and more and more are seeking jobs with value-led companies that they feel can achieve social good as well as shareholder value. Students are also increasingly interested in social enterprise and in ways of working that contribute to society rather than further widening inequalities, eroding social justice and harming the environment.
Enter Graduate Planet, a new community interest company that seeks to match value-driven people with the most socially innovative employers — while also making an environmental return every year by pledging 50% of its annual trading profits to initiatives that help combat climate change.
Founded only in early-2017 by long-time recruitment professional Kate Evans, Warwick-based Graduate Planet is the first social enterprise recruitment agency in the UK with a clear environmental and social mission.
“I have always been very passionate about protecting the environment,” Kate says. “Even my dissertation when I was just twenty-three was about changing people’s attitudes towards environmental sustainability. But I always thought I would have to retrain in environmental science in order to be of any real help — and then I realised that I am really good at recruitment and that I could use these skills for social and environmental benefit.” Rather than work for a recruitment agency where between 50% and 60% of the revenue she generated went to the business owner, Kate decided to set up her own recruitment agency and reinvest 50% of trading profits directly in environmental causes. This is what Graduate Planet now does and the business became a Community Interest Company in July 2017.
She welcomes the recent news that other major recruitment companies are waking up to their social responsibilities, citing the example of the Cordant Group, whose CEO Phillip Ullman has recently announced that the company — an £800m turnover corporation — will be transformed into what may well be the UK’s largest social enterprise. “If more companies could be encouraged to reinvest surpluses in achieving a social mission in this way we would see a truly transformative way of living and working,” she says.
As well as sourcing talented, socially committed people, Graduate Planet also sees itself as having an environmental awareness role. “Our primary purpose is to find the best person for the role, but we can also suggest various ways that companies can reduce their environmental impact — for example, by choosing their supply-chains wisely.”
Kate has over twenty-three years’ experience in the recruitment industry, well-established relationships with industry experts and universities, and a database of over 300,000 highly qualified, passionate people who are looking for purposeful work.
→ Employers — if you are looking to attract people whose social values and commitment are aligned with your own and who can help help reduce staff turnover and make your business more effective, then speak to Graduate Planet. Send mail directly to Kate Evans or ring 01789 601496 or 07880 888501.
→ Graduates and job-seekers — if you are a passionate, talented graduate seeking employment with highly motivated socially aware businesses you can register with Graduate Planet and submit your CV.
→ Social enterprises, charities and environmental organisations — contact Kate Evans directly to find out more about discounted rates.