Pursue Your Purpose, Make Your Mark. 

Careers4Change has started this series of changemaker profiles to inspire and encourage those who are considering a career change to explore the options in the social impact sector and find their purpose.  We are keen to reinforce the message from social and impact investor leaders that impact entrepreneurs are at the forefront of rebuilding the economy post-pandemic and purpose-driven businesses are the future.

Colleen Ebbitt

Colleen Ebbitt is a Vice President, Programme Officer for J.P. Morgan Global Philanthropy, EMEA. Colleen has 15 years of experience centred around corporate social responsibility, social impact investment, enterprise development, public policy, and banking. She’s passionate about improving lives and communities through innovative solutions to social challenges. Colleen is a regular contributor to thought leadership on social impact investing and inclusive growth at global conferences and volunteers regularly at MediCinema.

Why did you want to move to a social impact role?

Being in touch with my community is a very important part of my life; I have always been very socially aware and actively volunteering. My professional and purposeful life were very separate while working as a Vice President banker at J.P. Morgan. That was until J.P. Morgan, in partnership with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched a social impact investment fund (Global Health Investment Fund), in 2012, to invest in late-stage pharmaceuticals to get affordable medicine to low income countries. That was the first time I saw this merger of philanthropy and investment. That’s exactly where I wanted to be. It was the catalyst that made me explore the new emerging area of impact investment and social entrepreneurship.

How did you make your first move to mothers2mothers maternal HIV/AIDS charity based in South Africa?

I became a coach for social entrepreneurs with Ashoka which happened to be a J.P. Morgan philanthropy grantee in Switzerland. I really enjoyed it but they didn’t have volunteer opportunities for impact business or finance. That’s when I started looking at impact investment fellowship programmes. I spent a lot of time thinking: Is this going to be detrimental to my career progression? Should I make money and continue to volunteer instead? If it didn’t go well, I already had eight years in banking behind me. I felt more confident because of that. I decided to take the risk.

Fellowship programmes like those provided by Acumen or LGT Impact Ventures are targeted at people who already have work experience, not undergrads or recent graduates. Within LGT Impact Ventures’ portfolio of enterprises I found mothers2mothers, a maternal HIV/AIDS prevention organisation. I had already volunteered with them through a philanthropy group called Giving Women. I loved this organisation. Plus, it was based in Cape Town and I was really interested in looking at health in sub-Saharan Africa – a hot spot for impact investment at the time. When I applied for the fellowship programme, there was another opportunity available in Colombia. But it was such a nerve-wracking transition that I really got into this ‘all or nothing’ mindset. I wanted to work for mothers2mothers. It just felt right.

What was difficult about the move?

It was an eye-opening experience. When you are coming from a corporate environment, you are made to believe that that’s the most competitive area with the smartest people. The truth was that I quickly felt out of my depth surrounded by incredibly talented people in the social sector; with their immense experience, background, and knowledge. I had enthusiasm for this area and was bringing different skillsets from a banking background. However, in terms of truly understanding the nuances of really deep-rooted social issues, in a place with geopolitical risks and cultural barriers contributing to the problems surrounding HIV/AIDS, I had a lot to learn. There were some difficulties setting up the first emerging market social impact bond. I quickly realised that some of these impact investment structures are so unique and tailored to local markets that they are difficult to scale and extremely lengthy to set up.

How does a role in a social sector organisation differ from the corporate sector?

The stakes were so high emotionally while working in the social sector. Working with HIV/AIDS, it was difficult to witness not only the hardships that these individuals faced from stigma but the hardships of living in disadvantaged communities too. Everything from poverty and inaccessible education to violence against women. Being in the field brings unbelievable highs as you see how impactful the work is in improving lives and communities. I didn’t get that from my previous job in the corporate sector, it wasn’t as fulfilling.

You are now overseeing philanthropic grants supporting more inclusive economic growth back at J.P. Morgan. How has that role differed and why did you move?

After working with mothers2mothers, I knew I wanted to stay in impact investing. I ended up working with the U.K. Government’s Inclusive Economy Unit (GIEU) as a Senior Policy Advisor. GIEU was responsible for the U.K.’s social investment strategy. I was creating social investment funds and partnering with social, private, and government sectors to design solutions to tackle social challenges such as affordable housing or access to finance for social enterprises.

I wanted to bring to the corporate sector what I had learnt while working in public policy developing the skillset to lead a strategy – J.P. Morgan Global Philanthropy allowed me to continue to work on inclusive economic growth. I had the required experience to come back into the corporate philanthropy space; with my corporate background I knew the stakeholder aspects, I came with field experience, and I had important strategy and agenda setting skills to make philanthropy as impactful as possible.

It’s incredible to be a strategic partner for organisations and fund really impactful programmes. As a philanthropic funder, J.P. Morgan had to adapt with our grant partners during the pandemic so they could continue to change lives and create more inclusive economic opportunities. The lack of travel this year has been challenging – especially when you are doing strategic planning, due diligence, and overseeing philanthropy for South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, and France – travel is such an enriching part of my role. But it is a privilege to work on these issues every day.

What top tips would you give to someone thinking about a career transition?

  • Get some form of experiential learning – either board, community, or volunteering experience. You can sit and read about the social impact space but volunteering or a fellowship will really open your eyes to what it would be like if you made that switch. You won’t look back if it is something you are really passionate about. If it is the wrong move, no decision is forever. Don’t overthink it.
  • Think about your values. Oftentimes people might say: I couldn’t possibly move because of how different the earning potential is in the corporate vs social sector. If you are driven by money, that’s one thing, but if you are driven by community, making an impact, or travelling, you’ll reach a different conclusion.
  • Find role models. Personally, I’d look at Jacqueline Novogratz, the CEO of Acumen. I find her story about how she got into impact incredibly inspirational and she’s helping more leaders into that space.
  • Discover opportunities. Follow LGT Impact Ventures – their portfolio of organisations is top-notch and, if they do open their applications, they’ll be on your radar. Big Society Capital is a great career site, as is Escape the City, and of course, Careers4Change. It is limited with regards to how many head-hunters are out there in the social impact space – these organisations are really valuable.

Want to know more? You can follow Colleen on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you have a career transition story you would like to share, get in touch!

Pursue Your Purpose, Make Your Mark. 

Careers4Change started this series of changemaker profiles to inspire and encourage those who are considering a career change to explore the options in the social impact sector and find their purpose.  We are keen to reinforce the message from social and impact investor leaders that impact entrepreneurs are at the forefront of rebuilding the economy post-pandemic and purpose-driven businesses are the future.

Chris Colwell

Chris worked in commercial banking for 10 years and decided to pursue a more rewarding role which aligned with his aspirations to support the third sector. His day-to-day role as an Investment Manager is to support both new and existing clients from the initial stages of investment, to assessing business plans and financial forecasts, to managing the ongoing client relationship while acting as the client’s main point of contact.

What inspired you to move to the social sector?

If I think about what I was doing day-to-day in my previous job, I wasn’t making a tangible difference. In my current role, I’m seeing the explicit changes I am making to disadvantaged communities and that’s very inspirational. I was already involved in local community projects but I wanted to make a bigger difference on a day-to-day basis. There’s something very rewarding about giving a grant to a community or project, and then seeing the end results: the number of jobs it creates, or how many local people it helps.

How did you make your first move?

I’d seen the opportunity on a LinkedIn advert. Originally, when I looked at the job description on a speculative basis, I felt underqualified regarding the charity and non-profit aspect, but I decided to apply. The lesson here is that we tend to put ourselves down and it’s easy to be put off by reading a job description by thinking that we don’t tick certain boxes. In reality, I was blinded to the fact that I had lots of relevant experience that would be valuable to Key Fund.

Sheena, the Founder of Careers4Change, got in touch with me.  She assured me that much of my experience did align nicely. For people moving from the corporate sector, the likelihood is that you don’t have experience in charities or non-profit organisations but, you will have other experience that would apply, and dynamic diverse teams are crucial. As corporate individuals, we are used to analysing business plans and accounts – a skill which we can bring to the social sector. You can leverage these skills for the next stage of your career.

When you made the move, what was really difficult?

On my first day, they gave me six files and said: where you were working previously, would you have been looking at any case studies or proposals like these? The answer was no.  It was a big move away from the practices and parameters I was used to while working at a bank. Looking at all the social elements takes some getting used to. When you are working at a bank you are looking at accounts and profits, in a social organisation you are looking at how certain investments will make a societal difference. It is something I had never had to consider before.

How do you think the social sector differs to the corporate sector?

The main difference is the type of colleagues and clients you are working alongside. They are hospitable, generous, and caring; people who don’t have money as a motivation, but want to make a real difference. Everyone who is working in this industry is concerned about seeing first-hand the changes they are making to society, and bringing their values to work. We have to ask ourselves: why are people working in the social sector? Why have they chosen that path instead of working in traditional business?

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

An important part of my role is seeing my clients and the projects in action ‘on the ground’, across a range of geographical locations, as I can truly see the impact they have on their communities. You feel more connected to the people you are working with and can see the impact for yourself.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I can’t think of anything; it has been a really good move for me. Although, more recently, Covid-19 has had an impact. A big part of my role was being very mobile and spending three to four days visiting clients across a wide area, and we can’t do that anymore. Usually, we deliver the initial investment but we also have a relationship-based model so we work with the clients throughout the project, between five to ten years. I look forward to returning to visit my clients in the near future to see the direct impact our funding is having.

Do you have any top tips for anyone thinking about a career transition?

You can gain a lot from looking at social organisations’ websites and their case studies to get an idea of the sort of work they are involved in. Check out Key Fund, the National Lottery, Power to Change, Locality, and Careers4Change. Use LinkedIn frequently. You could follow some inspiring leaders such as the CEO of Key Fund, Matt Smith, who was just awarded a CBE.

 

Want to know more? You can follow Chris on LinkedIn and Twitter. Check out Key Fund.

If you have a career transition story you would like to share, get in touch!

 

Women in the social sector should be celebrated for their achievements this year; from the WISE 100 women working in social enterprise and impact investing to those encouraging female entrepreneurship and playing vital roles in post-pandemic recovery. Gender lens investing is expected to continue its rapid growth, and from an economic perspective, it is becoming ever-more apparent that reducing gender gaps in labour force participation could substantially boost global GDP.

However, recruitment is still subject to bias and we want to highlight how important it is that employers recognise the cost of poor recruitment processes. Mikki Draggoo, Corporate Relations Director of the City & Guilds Group, while working on research with Business in the Community (BITC), said: “The gender gap exists even at the start of women’s careers.” This is of particular concern since the pressures of the pandemic have highlighted how disproportionately responsibilities at home fall on women, and many are even considering leaving the workforce altogether.

Social Sector Recruitment

Over the past several years recruiting in the social sector, the feedback from clients about female candidates has always highlighted their passion for the cause. Women generally think carefully about what particular meaningful impact they want to make, are driven by their vision, and very well prepared for interviews and tasks.

It is, however, mostly the more junior roles that attract more women and at mid management level (i.e. Operations Manager, Media Manager, or Programme Manager) there is a definite swathe of women coming through. However, as you reach Director level and above, there are far fewer women, particularly at CEO, CFO, or Board level.

This trend could be attributed to a significant number of male candidates having earned major salaries in the city previously, having the flexibility to move to the social sector, and taking the salary hit. This is less often the case for women, many of whom had jumped off the career ladder to have children and had returned to the workplace later with a lower salary expectation.

Also, women are still the primary caregivers so will not necessarily want to take on a senior job where they would have to balance major responsibilities at work and home. What many don’t realise is that social sector jobs can be more flexible than mainstream jobs, particularly since the pandemic – travel was often a barrier for those who had young children.

What else is holding women back?

There are many more factors at play. LinkedIn’s studies revealed that women are 16% less likely to apply for a job that they’ve viewed than a man.

This is because women seem much keener to tick all the boxes on a job description and hesitate to apply if they are missing a detail, which I have noticed is often not the case for men. The majority of the senior roles draw on multiple skillsets and women are very detailed in their approach, often trying to find out exactly what is essential and desirable for a role before applying.  Plus, in many first interviews I have noticed women point out the skills they don’t have, rather than focusing on what they do.

After finishing a recruitment process, half of young women who had bad experiences say it “knocked their confidence – but just a third of young men say the same”. A fifth of young women said this put them off a company entirely. A further 11% said it put them off an entire industry, meaning that valuable talent is being lost regularly.

These statistics show why women tend to go for fewer senior roles. Is it a lack of belief in themselves and their capability to deliver in a senior role? Is it a case of male leaders feeling intimidated by strong female empathetic leadership styles? Are women emulating men instead of adopting their own style? Or is there a lack of women at the top helping other women?

Additionally, the recruitment sector has less gender equality at the top. In March 2020, an analysis from recruitment and talent management PR and communications specialist, BlueSky PR, found that 26% of recruitment firm directors are female, highlighting a ‘severe’ gender imbalance.

Head of Practice at BlueSky PR, Vickie Collinge, said: “These are the individuals that should be guiding businesses in regards to diversity and inclusion and helping them attract from more diverse groups.” This is why Careers4Change is proud to be women-led, encouraging equity and diversity in all our recruitment practices.

So, how can companies encourage gender diversity when recruiting?  

Firstly, request a balanced candidate pool when the shortlist is delivered, make sure there are female interviewers on a panel so the decision making over candidates is not skewed, and allow candidates some flexibility on when the interviews will take place to account for other family or personal commitments.

And most importantly, have an inclusive job description:

  • Point out that applications from all genders are welcomed.
  • Think about the job title. Use terminology which encourages women to apply, not words that have “masculine” connotations. Software like Textio can help you highlight so called “gender-specific” words.
  • Avoid any negative language like “only apply if”.
  • Keep your paragraphs and sentences short and remove jargon.
  • Make the job description about the candidate, not solely about your company.
  • Underline the flexibility of the organisation towards working patterns. Flexible hours can make the role more attractive.
  • Include a salary. It is important to be transparent.

Alongside a myriad of challenges, 2020 will be remembered as the year of strong female leadership. From innovative impact investors to engaging social enterprise leaders, the social sector has greatly benefited from having women at the helm. While we take today to reflect on and celebrate female-driven leadership, let’s be wary of the work we have to do going forward. Remember that many women in the past have been unfairly overshadowed by their male counterparts. This needs to be addressed – starting with recruitment.

Pursue Your Purpose, Make Your Mark. 

Careers4Change has started this series of changemaker profiles to inspire and encourage those who are considering a career change to explore the options in the social impact sector and find their purpose.  We are keen to reinforce the message from social and impact investor leaders that impact entrepreneurs are at the forefront of rebuilding the economy post-pandemic and purpose-driven businesses are the future.

Naila Mir

Naila has 20 years of experience centred around sustainable business, corporate social responsibility, employee engagement, partnerships, and strategic communications. Her purpose in life is to make a difference to people’s lives, and support, empower and enable young leaders to reach their potential. Beyond her business life, she has contributed to mentorship programmes, advisory roles for sustainable projects, and connects like-minded, purposeful individuals around the world. This inspired her to create P3 Collective, a not-for-profit network geared towards helping young people achieve their purpose and collectively make a social impact.

What inspired you to change careers and move from Unilever?

I was with Unilever for more than 15 years, I joined when I was 25, in Pakistan. The objective of my career at Unilever was to get to a certain point where I could run my own business. My time there was up. I’d had a great journey and achieved everything I could, from running big campaigns across 100 countries to business partnering on communications and sustainability. I left Unilever to pursue my own purpose which coincidentally meant helping other people discover their purpose, assisting them on their journey, and helping companies become more like Unilever.

I was lucky to be at Unilever because that is where I started my sustainability journey. I realised that the three things that I loved doing when I was younger are what I ended up doing as an adult; being a business woman (my Dad always created businesses), teaching (I had an imaginary classroom), and helping people (I used to help a lady who was visually impaired). Those things have lived with me and I have always followed my heart, and what makes me happy.

What steps did you take to move sectors and grow your network?  Did you reach out to anyone in particular?

My ambition was to focus on making a business of my own – sorting a plan, structure, name, and the correct environment. However, I did a makeup course first, it was something I had always wanted to do and never had the time to. My plans for the future involve ethical makeup too. Afterwards, I started reaching out to my network, looking at hybrid business models, and searching for consultancy platforms that I would want to work with. Most of the projects I have worked on have come through networking. I believe strongly in building and maintaining relationships, networks, and collaboration.

What did you find really difficult about your career change?

It was the fear factor. What am I going to do?  What if I don’t get a job? What if I don’t get paid as much? I’d left Unilever without a job but, I knew I had enough to survive three to six months.  I had to shift my mindset to: I’m stable, I have three months’ salary, I have six sisters, so six houses, and if worst comes to worst, I’ll rent out my house, be a bartender, and wait on tables. It would pay my bills and I love meeting people. My mindset had to change. And it did. I knew I’d have six months to explore the opportunities that I couldn’t when I was working nine to five.

What differences are there between your previous job and your current job?

The biggest difference was my own change in mindset. The advice I give to students is: If you are going to be happy and follow your purpose, and be successful while doing that, you need to change the way you look at things. Tell yourself: I’m not going to fit myself into a job, I’m going to look for jobs, projects, and roles that fit into my purpose. This is my mantra. It means you are pursuing your own happiness and defining what success means to you. I didn’t make money my driving factor, I made purpose my driving factor and because of that, I get the jobs I want and get paid for the value I give.

What part of your role is the most rewarding?

When I know people are coming to me for my expertise and something that I love doing. That means I’ve created value. What excites me is when my projects get scaled or my idea is picked up and it goes global or company-wide. The current organisation I’m working with value my business partnering style and agile approach, and it’s great when it is adopted. I’m not interested in being a millionaire, I’m interested in executing great projects, creating an impact, and bringing others with me in the process.

What part of your role is most challenging?

I was the challenge. I had to build confidence in myself and my value. I had the experience, know-how, and portfolio of projects to prove the impact I’d made. I am confident in the right environment – put me in front of 1000 young leaders, or people who are purpose-driven, I can talk for days. With an older generation of senior leaders who think differently, I won’t express myself as well.

Also, we have the tendency to be envious of each other. We can go on LinkedIn and see a 20-year-old involved in an innovative project and think: Why am I not doing that? Why am I doing things slowly? Why am I not getting noticed? Remember, you are as great as anyone else but we need to learn to reach out and collaborate. Share your ideas. I stuck with my values and purpose, and I am now influencing others to collaborate, be better human beings, and respect inclusion and diversity.

What top tips would you give to someone thinking about a career transition? 

Discover your purpose and what makes you happy. Define your journey and idea of success. Then, look for a role that fits you. What do you want?  Be clearer about what is in it for you. Nobody can define your success but yourself. Purpose is not only about sustainability. You may be a graduate looking for a role that’s purpose driven but, you also have other pressures and expenses, so you want a job that pays well. There’s nothing wrong with that. Try and find projects that are going to be your success rather than just a company’s success. What is the company going to do for you?

I believe that everyone can be a Malala Yousafzai & Greta Thunberg. If empowered and guided, every individual has the potential to do good, make the world a better place, and make a positive impact in whatever they do, or wherever they work.

Want to know more? You can follow Naila on LinkedIn and Instagram. Check out P3 Collective

If you have a career transition story you would like to share, get in touch!

According to the Deloitte survey on 2021 Global Human Capital Trends, it is now necessary to make “a fundamental mindset shift: from a focus on surviving to the pursuit of thriving.” From our learnings through this period, we must now build back better in 2021.

Many are hoping that 1 January 2021 will be drastically different to the unexpected challenges and losses which we tackled in 2020; a major health crisis, recession and a high unemployment rate. While the pandemic focussed people’s attention on social inequalities, it also triggered a shift in perspective and the need to develop resilient businesses and communities to tackle future challenges.

Firstly, the world of work in the social sector completely changed, not allowing for office camaraderie but, instead virtual meetings enabled more people to be part of the conversation. We listened to different perspectives and remote tools opened up access to disadvantaged populations. Organisations also started to consider proactive action to improve their talent pools, empower females in their workforces and introduce inclusive tech-based initiatives.

 

“Disruption. Unprecedented. Crisis. Sustain. Survival. Recovery. Growth. Transform. Adapt”

—– People Matters

 

At Careers4Change, we have weathered the storm, despite it being incredibly challenging, and look to 2021 with hope and anticipation of better days to come. We have found ourselves in a pivotal position to support change and facilitate social sector organisations during this time to be innovative and impactful in their endeavours through delivering resilient, motivated, agile talent.

More than ever, we have encouraged the transition of human capital across sectors. We are uniquely positioned to break down barriers between the sectors so that they can collaborate to achieve greater impact more rapidly; we assist commercial sector leaders and players to move into the social sector but also to transition from the social sector into corporates as intrapreneurs.

We have reviewed our purpose too, along with many companies during this pivotal year, realising that social impact investment is #nevermoreneeded and to focus our efforts on their recruiting processes. We are inspired by the interest that mainstream investment firms are showing in reshaping and transforming their investment agendas, paying particular attention to measuring the impact of their investment decisions, with impact-weighted metrics. Covid-19 has demanded these changes and we look forward to recruiting for these organisations that will lead the way to a new frontier for capitalism and society over the next decade.

We also have shared our mission and vision with other recruiters, during conversations about creating inclusive cultures within organisations and building diverse teams. We have attended talks hosted by BAME Recruitment, Charity So White and Diversity Forum, and joined the Black Young Professionals in their newsletter. By creating a space where people feel listened to, 40% of Careers4Changes’ candidates placed this year were from BAME backgrounds.

We encourage you, during this year’s Christmas period, to make time to have difficult conversations with family members – listen to their points of view and be willing to change yourself too. Encourage your family members to see that, by promoting equal access to opportunity regardless of background or previous experience, organisations have the potential to be more resilient, solutions-focussed and creative.

We have read and screened thousands of CVs this year, seen an enormous amount of talent and experience, and will continue to successfully place purpose-driven individuals, who have both a passion for social change and the necessary skillset, in organisations with a social mission at their core in 2021.

We wish you a safe, peaceful and restorative Christmas!

 

Are you caught in a repetitive but lucrative nine to five job, with constant board meetings turned zoom calls, and yearning for more depth in your professional life?

There are scores of career opportunities in the social impact sector for the rising generation of changemakers to apply their skills to. So, why do people make that move from the corporate sector to the social sector?

Stanford Social Innovation Review revealed that, “unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times”, Millennials want “their contributions… to achieve actual results for a cause” and have “the potential and desire to create a new model for social change”, transforming the world for the better.

This trend was accelerated in 2020 with the world-shattering global pandemic and exposure of further racial inequalities which, in turn, highlighted the power of community action, more money flowed into Sustainable Investment funds than ever before, and now, in an effort not to resort to pre-pandemic life, many are concentrating on social responsibility and impact (see Sarah Gordon’s opening address at the recent Impact Investment Institute’s first anniversary event).

The message from social and impact investor leaders is that impact entrepreneurs will rebuild the economy post-pandemic and purpose-driven businesses are the future.

For many potential changemakers, engaging with community groups and grassroots movements is compelling but, they don’t know how and where to start. It is never too late for mid-career professionals either. Armed with 20 years’ experience and a passion for social impact, they are suited to social sector leadership positions – they can take their corporate learnings to the social sector, leveraging their skills from their first career to pursue a more meaningful path.

                                                   Social Impact Career guide

 

                                                                       Step 1: About You

 

What are your strengths and skills?

  • Consider what you are good at
  • What skills do you want to use in your next role?
  • How can you leverage that know-how to contribute to social change?

What did/do you enjoy about your previous/current role?

 The Team Working Hours
Flexibility Level of Seniority
Benefits & Perks regarding healthcare and pension The senior leadership team
Workload  Opportunity for promotion

Why do you want to move on?

Poor relationships with the team/managers Personal values not aligned with the organisation
No sustainable company vision or benefit to local communities No career progression
Lack of flexibility for family life Company closing down

Your purpose

  • Reflect on your values, aspirations and motivations. Look at the Sustainable Development Goals for inspiration.
  • Think about previous volunteering experience, humanitarian work and philanthropic projects—how and why did you get involved?

                                                  Step 2: About Your Dream Organisation

 

What type of work environment?

  • Start-up or established organisation, working with internal or external stakeholders, fast-moving or slower-paced, working with a big or close-knit team etc.

Do extensive research on your area of interest.

  • Understand the landscape in terms of the influencers, NGO players, government policy, foundations, trusts and funders in that space. This will help you identify the exact niche you wish to concentrate your efforts on.

Find an organization which aligns with your purpose/ social mission

  • A social enterprise, impact/social investment firm, foundation, trust or charity and do they play a part in climate action, community-based projects, empowering protected groups, international development, ethical products and supply chain etc.

                                                                  Step 3: Next Move

 

Build your network

  • Meet with people in the industry—a networking coffee (even virtually!)
  • Ask for mentoring from key players.
  • On Purpose provides training sessions to transform your career and clarify your purpose.
  • If you want a career break to enrol in an Impact Mentoring Programme, or want to start up your own social enterprise, talk to Social Starters.

Expand your knowledge of the industry

  • Follow the organisations that appeal to you and those that are seen as leaders on different social media platforms, and analyse their blogs.
  • Check out our Twitter & LinkedIn channels too, plus our blog & market insights.
  • Read the relevant job descriptions and understand the qualities & skillsets they are asking for.

Go to conferences and events

  • Many are on Zoom at the moment and easily accessible. Find these events on Twitter and through joining LinkedIn Groups.

                                                         Step 4: Documenting Progress

 

  • Produce an excel document with lists of your network, influencers in the sector to watch out for and applications submitted. Keep updating it and growing your reach.
  • Think about your cover letter and elevator pitch—a snapshot of your skills and writing down why you want to move to social impact will crystallise your objectives.

GOOD LUCK!

A career transition can be emotionally draining and a complete identity adjustment. It might be frightening but it will be an enriching experience. We are here to help!

Contact us on Twitter, LinkedIn or at sheena.pentin@careers4change.com .

Every October for over 30 years, Black History Month (BHM) has taken place in the UK to celebrate all aspects of Black life, to educate and teach others about the important contributions of Black people throughout history, and learn from the history of Black oppression.  This year, BHM came at a time when there was already an increased amount of focus and attention attributed to the struggles and discrimination that the Black community face in the UK; the wave of international activism against structural racism, and the Black Lives Matter movement, had demanded reform and accountability.

At such a crucial time in history, we, at Careers4Change, wanted to capture the different efforts by a selection of social impact organisations who covered BHM, and who are working to be more diverse and inclusive in their approach. At Careers4Change we make a conscious, real effort to provide our clients with a more diverse pool of candidates, by liaising with BAME Recruitment, attending BYP Network and Diversity Forum events and guiding BAME candidates towards their ultimate ambitions.

As we reel from the extended presidential election day in the USA, and as the Democratic President and first female, Black and South Asian Vice President Elect prepare to take office, we are reminded of the divisions within the global international community and how there is still so much to do for transformational change to take place. Before this news, the Third Sector in the UK reflected on its shortcomings in achieving diversity and, during BHM, acknowledged a need to promote, showcase and celebrate the contribution of Black-run businesses to the UK economy.

These are some of the many social sector organisations which celebrated Black figures, culture and heritage and engaged in dialogue about ethnic minority representation at all levels of seniority:

  • Social Enterprise UK celebrated the achievements and contributions of Black British entrepreneurs each week during October; those aspiring Black CEOs, Founders and “heroes” who run social enterprises and ventures, encouraging the next generations of leaders. One of their tweets stated: “This is more than a month. Black history is British history”. Therefore, by recognising and respecting the experiences of those impacted by racism and, with a commitment to disarming institutional racism within the sector, they decided to continue that celebration of Black figures past the month of October.

  • UnLtd adopted a similar approach to celebrate Black social entrepreneurs on Twitter. Also, on the 30 October, they released an article with a list of their highlighted Black-led social ventures including; Built By US, Rose Tinted Financial Services, Feed My Creative, Women with Wings and Cracked It, among others. They also indicated how to better support the Black British community by encouraging people to buy from Black-owned businesses on #BlackPoundDay – the first Saturday of every month. Furthermore, they provided resources on how to dismantle anti-blackness through books, podcasts, YouTube videos, Netflix series etc.
  • Social Investment Business (SIB) released a blog article by Ebru Buyukgul, Diversity Coordinator. She discussed why we should take this opportunity to think about “fairness and representation within the social investment sector and how we can continue to drive sector change”. She listed several of their ongoing initiatives: to have transparent internal and external reporting about the diversity pay gap etc, offer safe spaces and mental health support for Black colleagues,  make sure the recruitment process removes unconscious bias, strive for a more inclusive social investment sector through strategic partnerships and engage with educational resources.
  • Diversity Forum, with SIB as their Secretariat and current host, highlighted a number of funds and support available to BAME-led and BAME-supporting organisations including; The Community Business Renewal Fund from Power to Change, Nesta’s Rapid Recovery challenge & Smallwood Trust’s Women’s Sector Resilience Fund, among others. They also hold Breakfast Talks about how social sector organisations can adopt a more equitable and just approach by bringing to light the “norms and practices that lock out BAME communities from social investment” and the “inherent power dynamics within organisations that perpetuate discrimination”.

  • Social Investment Forum relaunched in October with an updated governance structure and new Secretariat, SIB, aspiring to embed principles of  diversity, equality and inclusion into the leadership of the forum.  The election process of the Inaugural Chair & Steering Committee was carried out in partnership with Diversity Forum, who saw this updated structure as a “proactive approach” to tackle “issues of diversity in the social sector”.
  • The School for Social Entrepreneurs created a BHM spotlight on a range of different Black social entrepreneurs, discussing topics such as overcoming imposter syndrome and creating equal access and opportunities for a fairer world. Also, acknowledging that Black communities have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, they are offering a programme “aimed at Black social entrepreneurs based in the West Midlands who want to increase their impact and trading income”.

  • CharitySoWhite adopted three approaches to cover BHM; Black Joy, Black Heroes and Black Imagination. They recognised the grief that the Black community had suffered in 2020 and wanted to “create a space for black joy” by sharing positive stories about how leaders in the sector were celebrating BHM with calls to action such as, “Indulge in the abundance of Black Excellence”. They signalled that the Third Sector is “overwhelmingly white” and that the innovative and creative projects of Black people are often overlooked. Therefore, they highlighted some of their heroes such as, Amicky Carol, CEO of Money4YOU. They also had a collection of articles or visionaries to reimagine the future of the social sector.
  • POCIMPACT and Charity So White joined forces to launch a listening survey over October to reach out to BAME individuals working in social impact. They encouraged them to share their experiences and perspectives on how the sector needs to make change:We hope to develop the approach to our campaign so that BAME and white people can work together to build an anti-racist charity sector.”

  • Nesta released a long article about the Black pioneers often left out of the “mainstream innovation narrative” and how Black-owned businesses face setbacks with “higher interest rates and lack of access to overdrafts from lenders”. They also celebrated a range of Black-led initiatives and what they are doing to challenge white-dominated sectors. For example, they spoke about social impact projects for Black communities such as Do It Now Now and fair access to finance through Lendoe for Black, early-stage entrepreneurs.
  • The National Lottery Community Fund celebrated the charitable work and projects supporting Afro Caribbean & BAME communities, that they had funded, and shared the positive impact of these projects’ work.

    The Social Sector has recognised the importance of diverse teams to achieve better outcomes in terms of productivity, resilience and mitigating risk and , as we saw that the social impact investment market now has a net worth of more than £5 billion, more organisations are working to harness social and impact investing to tackle inequality too.

     

     

As we approach another period of lockdown here in the UK, the ‘virtual’ nature of recruitment will be ever more important. Many in the social sector have been adjusting to the new technologies for the interview process such as Zoom or MS Teams…. but not everyone is ready for the change or prepared to embrace it. Don’t be disheartened: you can sell yourself and your skills through a screen, just as easily as you would in person. Just take a step back, and think about any adjustments which could make a difference.

Here, at Careers4Change, we have held some very amusing interviews during lockdown, from a candidate based in a camper van to avoid the noise of their children, to interviewing during a hailstorm in a glass conservatory where the candidate was inaudible. We’ve had dogs racing across the screen, cats jumping on laps, kids finishing their allotted film time and asking what’s next, Amazon ringing on the bell not once, but several times during the call, dubious clothing hanging from bookshelves, beds not made in the background ….and it goes on!

Of course, what is most important is what you say and how you present yourself but, it is also important to think about what else you are revealing to your interviewer through your living space behind you.

With most social sector clients doing interviews virtually, here are some hard, fast rules:

Before the Interview:

  • Dress as you normally would for a social sector interview with a potential future boss. No joggers or PJs I’m afraid! Be fully dressed, not just from the waist up — what you wear can influence your thinking and negotiating skills, and even hormone levels and heart rate.
  • Be informed and well-prepared. Make sure you have done your research on the organisation, know who the team members are, explore the background of the CEO, understand the organisation’s values and their social impact ambitions. Sitting in your bedroom or lounging on a sofa in your living room can feel very casual, but get yourself interview-ready by writing down a few quick pointers before it begins.
  • Trial a Zoom call with a friend or family member first, especially if you have never conducted one before. With our sudden reliance on technology, candidates do run the risk of being judged by their technical capabilities. By testing out the technology and being fully prepared, you can avoid any technical glitches. Having said that, as recruiters we do take into consideration the potential that virtual interviews have to create unfair bias.
  • Set up your interview ‘space’. Think about the backdrop. Find a room with a neutral background which is not too distracting and make sure that the space is as uncluttered and organised as possible. Again, conduct a test call to see what your friend/family member can see behind you. This may be judged, even subconsciously.
  • Check your internet connection. If it is likely the line will go down, make sure you have the interviewer’s contact details so you can continue on a Whatsapp video call or skype instead. You can agree that with the interviewer in advance, but normally they should offer that option themselves.
  • Make sure you will not be disturbed by anyone else in the house, including your pets, kids, partner or the DPD delivery man! Let your household know a few minutes before and even put a sign up if necessary.

During the interview:

  • Try and be natural – don’t read your answers off cards or post-it notes. Our experience shows that some candidates will over prepare and therefore come across as robotic and struggle with questions they aren’t expecting.
  • Don’t move around too much. Try and sit still and poised, as you would do in a normal interview and avoid taking continuous sips from large coffee mugs!
  • Give yourself time to answer and give additional interviewers time to interject, if there are others. There is often a time lag on Zoom calls so we all have to be patient and mindful of the pace.
  • Be as energetic and enthusiastic as possible as Zoom calls can become monotonous exchanges. The conversation should be dynamic where you really emphasise your motivation for wanting to join the organisation and express your passion for contributing to social change.
  • Don’t leave the interview without asking a question. As an interviewer, my pet hate is to ask ‘do you have any questions?’ – and there are none. It can be interpreted as lack of interest.
  • Ask what the next steps of the process are so you are aware of the decision-making time frame and know when to follow up.

Technology has impacted on the balance between work and home life. The nature of recruitment and employment has potentially changed forever and, when Covid-19 restrictions have eased, we will be faced with a different working environment, new kinds of digital collaboration and remote working being accepted as the norm. But it is too early to predict what the future of work will really look like.

Employers will have to think more strategically in future, building a workforce that is ‘future-fit’ and able to respond to other crises going forwards. How this will impact on the recruitment process, and what employers will demand of new employees, is yet to be seen.

If you have been job hunting during Covid-19 and have learned some valuable lessons along the way, whether it is with regards to Zoom calls or anything else, and have managed to secure your perfect job with your dream employer, please share your stories of success with us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Ethical investing, responsible finance, ESG, SRI, impact investing, social investment, good money…We have so many terms which reflect the power of money to make significant change in the world. Yet, it seems that the potential of creating sustainable outcomes through the use of capital for good is still a nascent phenomenon in some circles.

Covid-19 has invoked the need for all of us to come together and support communities, in some cases by setting up funds to support the critical care teams at a local hospital, or other such actions. This has had the sobering effect of highlighting that we could all be doing more to drive change. The lockdown imposed on many of us gave us time to stop and reflect. Therefore, the global pandemic is progressively being seen as the main catalyst for the much-needed systemic change which is beginning to unravel, coupled with racial injustice and the climate change crisis.

With the extractive capitalist system fundamentally broken, it is time for something new. Investment managers are warming up to the idea of impact investment; where they can still achieve a competitive return on their investment, but also generate a social return, whether that means impacting on communities or the environment. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs have been establishing mission-driven businesses for decades in an ecosystem commonly referred to as the social investment sector but, they too could stand to benefit from asset managers and family offices allocating capital in the direction of impact investment.

At the recent Global Steering Group (GSG) Global Impact Summit 2020, the Chair of GSG for Impact Investment, Sir Ronald Cohen, also Founding Chairman of Big Society Capital, the leading social impact-led investor, said that a “tipping point” had been reached as impact investing globally was predicted to reach USD1 trillion this year.

You may have considered working in the social economy for a social impact investment firm, or indeed, for a commercial organisation which is engaging in impact investment. Whatever the case, Careers4Change can help you to connect to those organisations where you will use your skillsets while generating a positive, transformational outcome for people and the planet. Of course, the key to finding a role in an organisation which combines profitability with ‘doing good’ in the world, is having a passion for purpose.

If you are interested in hearing more about the organisations which make up the social impact investment sector, or you want to explore impact investment as a career option, as well as discuss specific job opportunities, please contact us at Careers4Change on 07791 959355.

Careers4Change firmly believes this time of upheaval is a pivotal moment to engage more talent with the skills and motivation to drive social innovation and bring about systemic change.

The crisis around Covid-19 may have been the wake-up call many of us needed to do things differently. The pandemic has focused our attention on supporting local communities, with the role of social organisations and social investment becoming more critical than ever before. The economic turmoil and major health crisis have exposed deep flaws in how society and its systems function. The Stanford Social Innovation Review states: “The interconnectedness—and vulnerabilities—of the complex systems that make the modern world run have never been more apparent”.

It is clear that in terms of the job market, the pandemic has had far reaching repercussions, with the UK having witnessed the biggest quarterly economic contraction since the financial crisis in 2008. The number of people out of work and claiming work-related benefits in the UK jumped to 2.7 million as the coronavirus crisis has forced thousands of businesses to close.

Meanwhile, the attitude of some job seekers has changed for good, with more candidates after the lockdown ‘pause’, rethinking their futures and pressing re-set on their career trajectory.

Many of those looking to contribute to social change going forwards may be asking themselves: How do I find a job which creates a positive impact on people and the planet? How do I pursue a career with an organisation whose purpose aligns with my values? How do I connect with like-minded passionate changemakers? Or, how can I hone my skills to be even more effective in the social sector?

Careers4Change has already helped many would-be changemakers redefine their career path.

The pandemic has also exposed many socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and gender inequalities. During the doorstep campaign series for the Women In Social Finance (WISF) community, Suzanne Biegel, co-founder of the Gender Smart Investing Summit and Chief Catalyst at Catalyst at Large, shared her hopes and visions for social finance amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. She stated that it has exposed the lack of women in finance and said this is the moment to raise the visibility of extraordinary women so that their voices can influence policy.

The activism for racial justice taking place across the globe has coincided with the health and economic disparities revealed by the virus.  Only with our collective action and responsibility, and with more attention to diversity and inclusion, will we be able to make a lasting change.

At Careers4Change our recruitment drives aim to be as inclusive as possible, connecting with our diverse network and welcoming applications from all candidates.

Meanwhile, as we navigate a humanitarian and financial catastrophe, Private Equity International (PEI) suggests that “in some respects the outbreak is turning every investor into an impact investor”.  There are likely to be substantial opportunities for impact investors who don’t only look for financial objectives, but also to meet a range of social impacts. Gianluca Romano, Global Head of indirect capital research at JLL, said: “The current crisis is refocusing decision-making on the sustainability of investment opportunities and on building more resilient portfolios to guard against future crises”.

Hopefully, we will observe private equity firms increasingly investing in social impact post-pandemic, prioritising the allocation of capital in the direction of social organisations to support local community action, drive the economic recovery and #buildbackbetter.

Careers4Change works closely with a number of social investment organisations to identify talent which will make them more robust and resilient than ever to deal with the post-pandemic world.

Out of adversity comes opportunity. With the right talent and responsible leaders in place, we will be in a better position to guide our people and planet towards a more sustainable future. Do you want to be part of this post Covid-19 world with a focus on careers which service societal need and environmental imperatives?

Careers4Change can help you clarify your objectives, hone in on your skillsets and crystallise your purpose!

Despite the restrictions, we, at Careers4Change, have been operating throughout ‘lockdown’, are open for business and ready to help our candidates and clients connect to deliver positive social change during these difficult and challenging times.