Social Enterprise WorkSquare Creates a “People First” Hiring-Placement Business

(3Bl Media/Justmeans) - WorkSquare is revolutionizing the hiring placement industry in Miami, Florida. What began as an MBA thesis at Harvard Business School by founder Vanessa Bartram has developed into a people first, B Corp- certified social business.  WorkSquare’s team launched the company in 2008 to create a path toward financial stability for South Florida’s low-wage workers.

"Vanessa wanted to demonstrate that you can have a sustainable business and make a difference in the community,” Ian James, the President of WorkSquare told me during an interview last week. “She wanted to show the business world that you don't have to find grants, find resources or operate like a non-profit [to be successful]. We aren't a charity. We are looking to become profitable. We want to grow, have more locations and potentially become a national company." Unlike traditional hiring companies, WorkSquare does not charge employees for their service. Nor do they charge their clients a hire-on fee.

"Most staffing agencies can take up to 10 percent from the hiring client. Our profit comes from a temporary employment period. We hire employees for $10 per hour and charge our clients, like hotels and restaurants, $14.80 per hour, which covers liability and benefit costs.  We provide workers' comp on every employee. We make money by volume and hope that our clients will continue to use us out of goodwill," James said.

Beginning in the new year, WorkSquare will also require that employees complete a two-part, financial training program.

"We will also require employees to receive payment by direct deposit," said James. "Financially smart employees are more reliable."

WorkSquare became a certified B Corp in August 2012 because they wanted the support of like-minded social businesses.

"It's a badge of honor. It proves we do business differently," James told me.

And indeed they are. WorkSquare scored  109 out of 200 on their 2012 B Impact Report . The 2012 median score was 80. They scored highest on both the 'Workers' and 'Community' sections.

"With every client, we do an on-sight inspection.  We want to ensure that our employees' work environment is up to standards.  We go through a checklist. During employee training we address professionalism and mutual respect.  We always act as advocates for our employees," James stated.

James described a situation where employees felt unsafe at a construction site. It was dirty and managed improperly. He told the employee to quit and then spoke to the client. The client fixed the situation and the relationship was restored.

"They are our employees. We want them to be safe.  We want to them to be treated with respect. If any of our employees are blamed for anything, we look into to see what happened. We have a very high track record."

WorkSquare works holds a strong place in the hospitality industry in Miami. Their biggest clients are Trump International, Intercontinental, and they are a qualified Marriott provider. They have developed the trust of dozens of companies across South Florida.

James started working with WorkSquare last year. He thought it was just a great sales tool when he started, a niche in the industry. But after just a few weeks in seeing people get jobs "this place really touched me," he said.

For more information about WorkSquare and their B Corp reputation, read about them here.

Comments

It's good to see yet another business model built on fairness. Whilst legal structures and badges are important, they all come down to a demonstration of robust management and evidence of consistent values.

If we can move culturally further away from the traditional adversarial and exploitative nature of commerce we might actually have a chance.

 

 

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