Talentful Spotlight On: Radical Recruit

"Radical exists because I choose to use my privilege to boldly and unapologetically challenge the status quo." - Emma Freivogel, Co-Founder and CEO at Radical Recruit.

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The fourth company we have chosen for our “Talentful Spotlight On” blog series is Radical Recruit, a non-profit recruitment consultancy that works exclusively with under-represented people in the labour market. 

Recently, due to the pandemic, these under-represented people have mostly been homeless individuals. Still, Radical work with anyone who is BAME, disabled and young, as well as domestic violence and modern day slavery survivors, people in recovery and people who have had contact with the care and criminal justice systems.

Emma Freivogel, Co-Founder and CEO at Radical, explains how they are pioneering a recruitment revolution, bridging the gap between disadvantaged job seekers and the business world and changing how organisations source, recruit and develop hidden talent.

Tell us about why Radical Recruit exists? 

My home growing up was a safe place that nourished me in all the ways a child needs nurturing. I was encouraged to be myself at all times. My genuine, authentic, imperfect self and I don’t recall ever doubting my potential. When I reflect on my life, I cannot remember a time when I didn’t feel like I belonged. I was born into incredible privilege, and as I grew older, I became increasingly aware of my privilege and the opportunities born out of it. I also became acutely aware that not everybody enjoys such privilege, and subsequently, not everyone enjoys the same opportunities in life. 

Radical exists because I choose to use my privilege to boldly and unapologetically challenge the status quo. My team and I are on a mission to redress the inequality of opportunity afforded to those less privileged and who society has labelled; ‘care leaver’, ‘disabled’, ‘gang member’, ‘black’, ‘uneducated’, ‘inexperienced’, ‘homeless’, ‘refugee’, ‘queer’, ‘criminal’, or generally, just ‘not good enough’. We do this by calling out businesses who talk a big game regarding their commitment to diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) but whose policies fail to translate into practice. We provide these same businesses with a suite of tailor-made solutions that help them facilitate the leap from DEI&B rhetoric to action.

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Where did the idea for Radical Recruit come from?

Before I founded Radical, I was the Chief Operating Officer for a small grassroots charity that supported women coming out of prison to find jobs. Employment is one of the few proven solutions to reducing reoffending. The school of thought was that people who were supported to find employment on release would become ‘better citizens’, refrain from reoffending, reintegrate into the community and re-establish themselves in their family units. During my time there, I had the privilege and honour of supporting over 200 women to do exactly that. 

Towards the end of my tenure in 2019, I spoke on a panel at the Reward Gateway Engagement Excellence Summit. I was joined by one of my candidates, Chanel and the Head of People at Honest Burgers. The panel was themed ‘what is possible when the third sector and the business world unite in purpose’. Chanel courageously shared her personal story – an incredibly intimate recollection of her journey from life in the ‘care’ of the state, to prison (the only place she had ever felt safe) and finally, back into the community and the world of work following her release from custody. She spoke about the power paid work has to transform people’s lives with a conviction and the many benefits of hiring ex-offenders and giving people who had been born into tumultuous circumstances or who had made mistakes a second chance. 

It was then that I realised that Chanel was probably one of the most complex and uniquely vulnerable people I had worked with throughout my 15-year career but that with the smallest amount of support at the right time, she managed to transform her life completely. A few months later, I launched Radical, and 18 months after launch, we have placed over 200 Radicals into work on salaries ranging from London Living Wage to £90k and with an in-work sustainability rate of over 90% at six months. 

Do you think companies lack what you offer as a service? And why?  

There are circa 30k recruiters registered as trading in the UK, but they remain largely inaccessible to the people we represent, and there is no other not-for-profit recruiter who works with the diversity of candidates we represent at Radical; so the short answer is yes!

The critical difference between Radical and other non-profits (with an employment remit) and recruiters is that we apply a commercial approach to recruitment with the added benefit of what we call a wraparound support service (pre-and post-placement support) for our Radicals (candidates) and customers. This approach ensures that everyone is supported when they need it and that placements are sustained, and our customers’ investment is protected.

Unlike other charities, our team comprises people who understand the ‘mechanics’ of recruitment, appreciate the pace at which the corporate world works, and possess both commercial acumen and business savvy as they were recruiters in the public sector before joining our ranks. This means that we are as easy to work alongside as our mainstream agency counterparts because we only make introductions to Radicals who are interview and work-ready. There is no ‘charity’ involved. 

Our customers know they need to be more diverse in their recruitment practice but often don’t know how or where to start. We help them to reimagine the impossible.

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Who are some of the companies you partner with?

We’ve worked with a range of customers, big and small. We’ve placed a web designer into a small tech start-up and a billing and finance manager into a law firm. Both candidates were people with an unspent criminal conviction that other recruiters simply would not work with. 

We’ve placed accounts apprentices, landscape gardeners, team administrators, executive assistants, data analysts, COVID testing centre operatives, project managers…the list goes on! We are currently working on roles for YM&U Group, Warner Media, Marston Holdings, Shaw Trust, Esme Fairbane Foundation and Capita Group, to name just a few. The one thing common between all of our customers is an authentic desire to do recruitment better – to source candidates from diverse backgrounds and provide them with opportunities to work in places where they feel like they belong. 

As a business, what was the biggest lesson post-COVID-19?

I think our value within the corporate world was truly recognised as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic disproportionately and negatively impacted the lives of people who already faced disadvantages, and our role within the third sector was cemented as a result of this. 

The pandemic and certainly the murder of George Floyd also caused businesses to look at how they operated through a social justice lens. This has caused a shift away from diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging rhetoric to action that creates real social value and lasting change.

Diversity is no longer a ‘nice to have’. For most businesses, it is imperative. As a result of this, our business model evolved, and we now offer a suite of DEI&B and corporate social responsibility solutions that our partners want and need. The pandemic has taught us our value both as a provider of recruitment consultancy for people who are underrepresented in the labour market and a critical friend and co-pilot to our business customers.

Learn more about Radical Recruit and how they are transforming the lives of individuals from marginalised communities here. 

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