Among the many remnants of the COVID-19 pandemic that we continue to grapple with, like hybrid schedules and a steady stream of Zoom meetings, is a heightened interest in the pursuit of purpose. The concept of purpose can mean many different things, but in this case, we’re focusing on companies who are investing in Purpose as a business strategy including the spaces of CSR, DEIB and ESG and the right talent to lead them.
The alphabet soup of goodness – short for Corporate Social Responsibility; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging; and Environmental, Social and Governance – remains high in the minds of employees at every level, and the companies and brands seeking to elevate their profiles, attract top talent and satiate socially conscious investors and consumers.
“The past few years have forced many people to pause and take stock of what’s truly important in their lives and in their communities, including how they spend their time professionally and what impact it could create for the greater good,” says Tauna Dean, founder of Portland, Ore.-based Kind World Collective, a purpose-driven recruitment firm that aligns the shared interests of companies and potential leaders to create genuine social change. “We’re addressing this niche by intentionally building a vast and diverse network of purpose-led talent, and, by actively partnering with companies whose purpose, mission, vision, and values offer an aspirational space for these individuals to do their best work.”
Forbes.jobs sat down with Ms. Dean to discuss her background and this growing, and clearly virtuous, executive recruitment category.
QUESTION: You have a fascinating background in both the corporate realm and community/social services, initially as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, then as a Corporate Recruiter and Head of Social Impact at one of the world’s most iconic companies. How has your background been ideally suited to meld these two seemingly divergent concepts together?
TAUNA DEAN: Working as a case manager for a women’s crisis center, helping survivors of domestic violence build financial independence and find steady employment, was one of the most formative professional experiences of my life. I realized I had a knack for seeing someone’s raw talents, and loved helping them recognize that power and brilliance in themselves to improve their quality of life. It may seem like an abrupt pivot, but I was able to take that background and apply it to Recruiting, which eventually led me to adidas for an incredible and educational 15-year odyssey between Germany and North America. I started as a Corporate Recruiter, and over time was promoted to lead the creation of adidas’ first in-house Executive Search Team, where we vetted top talent within an organization of 70,000 worldwide.
My dual professional path first started to come together in 2016 when the company adopted a more socially conscious strategy in North America and sought to address many of the social and environmental inequities we saw in sport around the world.
Q: So, when adidas tapped you to head Social Purpose, that really accelerated the idea of hiring for social good, didn’t it?
T.D.: For sure. My team was responsible for uncovering and galvanizing the collective energy of our employee base to actively live our core belief: through sport we have the power to change lives. We focused on equity and access to sport as well as creating safe, sustainable, plastic free spaces to play. This work became so deeply embedded in our culture at adidas, that it naturally became a strong talent attraction and retention mechanism for the brand while creating a positive impact for the communities we served.
Q: Is that typical for companies that want to be more socially conscious? Do many know where to start, or do they need to identify the right personnel to make the idea come to fruition?
T.D.: It’s a bit of both, and that’s exactly why we launched Kind World Collective…to be a purpose-driven ‘matchmaker’ between socially and environmentally conscious companies and top talent – in turn creating a kinder, cleaner and more connected world. Many companies have an established ESG or DEI mission and strategy, but many do not, and there’s a real opportunity and competitive advantage to hiring the right talent to help embed and accelerate those goals. When you find the right purpose-driven talent, they bring their passion for the environment, diversity, mental health, physical wellness – as well as a plethora of other important issues, and this intentionality builds diverse and strong cultures plus high-performing teams.
Q: And it’s just good for business with a younger workforce entering the market and the acute need to address social and environment inequities, right? Why should more companies adopt this strategy or posture?
T.D.: We’ve clearly seen a movement of people seeking more depth, meaning, and purpose in their employment, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. This has impacted employees at every stage of their career from recent college graduates to senior managers and those in executive leadership. People want to create meaningful change, solve the problems plaquing our world, and leave a legacy for good. Simultaneously, companies and brands of all sizes – from start-ups to Fortune 500 – have realized that they have a platform and an opportunity to shape the future of our world. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also statistically proven to be good for business, too. Kind World Collective lives at that intersection. We’re able to connect the dots between one’s purpose, one’s profession and a company’s need to grow and be successful.
We speak with people every week who are working towards building a career and a life of impact. What’s abundantly clear, both anecdotally and from volumes of published research, is that having a sense of purpose in your work is one of the biggest predictors of overall job satisfaction.
Q: Tell us about B-Corporations and why it’s important.
T.D.: B-Corps are significant on several fronts. One, it shows a commitment by a company or organization to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. With that, many B-Corps demonstrate favorable growth when compared to other emerging companies. There are about 6,800 certified B Corps, in 160 industries, around the world. Cotopaxi, Allbirds, Prudential, NatureSweet, Mynt, Every Man Jack, and Honest are a few well-known examples in the U.S.
Additionally, brands are able to build trust with their consumers, communities they serve and their suppliers if B-Corp certified. They’re able to attract and retain a like-minded workforce and leadership. Plus, they attract investors and partners who believe in their mission. Kind World Collective is currently B-Corp pending with certification expected this Fall. We’re also 1% for the Planet members…so we’re walking the talk internally and building purpose into our own DNA while helping other companies do the same.
Q: Are there many recruitment agencies that specialize in CSR, DEIB and ESG?
T.D.: There are certainly a few, although you would think there would be more since interest in Corporate Social Responsibility; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging; and Environmental, Social and Governance have been such significant topics for employees, companies, institutional investors, and in the media for many years now.
We formed Kind World Collective with a group of seasoned Recruiters from Apple, Nike, Wieden & Kennedy, Keen Footwear and adidas. Our common goal, beyond our love for recruiting, is to partner with companies that want to hire with purpose, and for talent and executives that possess the desire to work with purpose and create real impact. That’s why our company’s motto is ‘purpose-driven recruiting for a kinder, cleaner, and more connected world.’ We believe the intentional act of helping companies and employees find one another, and thrive at the intersection of their ‘shared purpose,’ creates a positive trajectory for everyone involved and society in general. We see a bright future for those who work and want to hire with clear purpose and intent, and we’re here to amplify it.
Sounds like a first-class arrangement for all involved.
To learn more, visit KindWorldCollective.com.
Photo of Ms. Tauna Dean provided courtesy of Kind World Collective.