Recruitment firm earns Investment in People coup

Investors In People license holder for the Caribbean and IIP adviser Eric Jenkinson, SteppingStones Recruitment’s general manager and partner Ciara Aspinall, and the agency’s managing director, Milly Serpell. - PHOTO: DEBORAH ROBERTS

SteppingStones Recruitment Ltd., run by founding partner and managing director Milly Serpell and general manager and partner Ciara Aspinall, has achieved the human resources equivalent of an Oscar.

The agency, which last year celebrated its 10th anniversary, not only won a gold award from Investors in People (IIP) at its first attempt, but has topped even that distinction by achieving a perfect IIP assessment score.

Following the rigorous 18-month process, which included the assessment of 37 evidence requirements and a further 155 good practice evidence benchmarks, the agency achieved the highest score given by the accreditation provider.

The Cayman firm, which specializes in local and international executive recruitment and temporary job placements, won the accreditation from the globally respected accreditation provider following mentoring by an IIP adviser.

The final stage of the accreditation process was a comprehensive assessment by an IIP assessor. Through closed interviews with 80 percent of its staff, the assessor investigated SteppingStones to evaluate if it met specified requirements alongside many business-specific benchmarks, including the quality of work practices, employee and client culture, goals, business plan and social responsibility ethos.

The award announcement, made to the agency’s staff, peers and clients by the Caribbean’s IIP license holder Eric Jenkinson on Jan. 21, is thought to be a highly significant achievement for the agency and for the Cayman Islands.

Principal of Bermuda-based Management Solutions, Mr. Jenkinson said that for a company to achieve an IIP gold award on its first attempt was unusual, and to have attained the maximum score possible (a perfect 192) was remarkable.

“The SteppingStones team has had an amazing journey with Investors in People,” Mr. Jenkinson said.

“They have created a truly remarkable culture within the company and they live their core values in everything that they do for their clients. When one considers that less than 10 percent of all the 15,000 IIP-accredited organizations around the world are gold level, the fact that this team achieved it on their first assessment speaks volumes for not only them, but for the capability of organizations in Cayman. It shows that companies in Cayman can be benchmarked against a global standard and prove that they are amongst the best.”

He told the Cayman Compass: “In all of my 23 years as an IIP adviser, I’ve never heard of an awardee getting the maximum score. The specialist assessor, Pauline Wild, couldn’t think of such a case either.”

Receiving the award, Mrs. Serpell said that such industry recognition is further acknowledgement that SteppingStones is a progressive sector leader.

“It is extremely gratifying, yet humbling, to be officially recognized as an employer of choice,” she said, adding that it further validates the firm’s Top Employer award by the Cayman Islands Society for Human Resources Professionals in 2013.

“A lot of companies struggle with change and innovation. As an organization we embrace change and are adept in handling it,” Ms. Aspinall said.

Both agreed that the prestigious award would further enhance the company’s image and candidate recognition in the local and international recruitment market, which in turn is good for business.

The “Areas of Strength” section of the 49-page IIP report noted “many key strengths and areas of excellent practice within SteppingStones.”

The survey said: “The organization should be commended on their commitment to improving and to the management of change during company growth.”

Kayla Shibli, Human Resources manager at Rawlinson and Hunter, said at the award event: “I personally want to congratulate SteppingStones … In receiving this prestigious award, they have reminded Cayman businesses and globally what so many leaders and employers sometimes forget: the answer to the question ‘What makes a company successful?’”

Founding member and past president of the Cayman Islands Society for Human Resource Professionals Mario Ebanks commended SteppingStones for “this significant achievement.”

Mr. Ebanks, the former director of labor and pensions and a former member of the Investors in People Steering Committee, added: “As the former director of labor, I know that enforcement and prosecution alone cannot bring about the changes that are needed. We also need to help organizations to aspire to ‘best practices’ by being accountable or ‘self-policing,’ and the IIP is a fantastic tool to do just that.

“The IIP is not only for large organizations, it is also for small- or medium-sized businesses, and so SteppingStones should be very proud that they have been able to achieve this significant milestone.”