How Birmingham is adapting, innovating and leading the future …and the impact this has on sustainability

SF Recruitment

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce to provide insight on the findings of the Birmingham Economic Review.

The Birmingham Economic Review 2019 is produced by the University of Birmingham’s City-REDI and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, with contributions from the West Midlands Growth Company. It is an in-depth exploration of the economy of England’s second city and is a high quality resource for organisations seeking to understand Birmingham to inform research, policy or investment decisions.

This post is featured in the full Birmingham Economic Review 2019 and the Summary Review. These are available here.

Here at SF Recruitment, the Midlands’ Leading Specialist Recruiter and proud patrons of the West Midlands and East Midlands Chambers of Commerce – we believe in the Midlands.

The region has been our home for over 20 years and has helped us to grow at a pace averaging 39% over the last six years. This is something we are very proud of as it reflects the talent and skills that exist within the region.

To keep pace with this growth, we felt our company’s profile needed raising and revitalising to ensure we stayed relevant into the future. A future that will follow the direction we think the City of Birmingham is heading in, as it continues to explore and exploit its full potential.

The city is developing at a rate that even it’s residents can’t keep up with. Birmingham is perfectly located to benefit most from the government’s drive to bring opportunity and growth to the Midlands and the North. From the Prince’s Trust launching its new Skills Hub last year in Digbeth, to the 240,000 sq ft Arena Central development which will house over 3,600 civil servants from multiple departments by 2020, Birmingham is well on its way to becoming a major city hub.

Once the first section of HS2 has been completed, the city will boast 40-50 minute journey times to London – the same time it takes to cross from East to West of the capital on the tube. We will be as accessible as a suburb of London, but with a more affordable and inclusive cost of living.

This unique dynamic is one of the reasons big businesses like HSBC, PWC and Metro Bank have all announced new jobs and offices in Birmingham and why the West Midlands has had the fastest growing employment rate in the UK since the referendum in 2016.  

So how could we at SF keep up with this? We spend our days helping people to make major career decisions, matching them to jobs they love and to businesses they will adore because they align with their values and style of working.  To do this for our own people we needed to stand for something. Something that would have a lasting impact. Something that would take us on a journey and connect us with the world outside. Something that would give us purpose over and above that which we find in the day job.

With a network of over 12,000 local businesses, 40,000 candidates and 120 specialist consultants, we are privileged to have a platform for conversation that we can use to make a positive difference to one of the most pressing issues of our time.

As a relatively green-minded business (and with a helpfully green-coloured logo), we made the pledge to ditch all single use plastics, turning instead to a more sustainable material – bamboo.  An easy thing to say and a harder thing to do, we knew we had to live and breathe this pledge in order for it to become real. We rebranded to feature bamboo at the centre of our company story. We updated our values to reflect the strong, flexible and ethical nature of bamboo. Our leadership team ditched their love of sparkling water bottles and we discontinued thousands of items of plastic corporate gifting in favour of bamboo paper, pens, bottles, cups, gift boxes and even socks!  

Our people are filling up the recycling bins daily, we have reinstated the milkman who brings us recyclable glass bottles and are planning a clean up of our waterways to reduce harmful plastics that may have found their way in.

This is an industry first in the recruitment sector and we enjoy talking to our clients and candidates about our efforts. Many of them are decision makers in their own businesses and will inspire and influence their own networks to be more aware of the environmental dangers of single use plastics.

There are growing numbers of organisations in the West Midlands who have recognised the need for sustainability and seen it as a catalyst for innovation and change. The London Taxi Company with their new breed of electric hackney carriages. The University of Birmingham’s pioneering research into plastic pollution. The clean air zone which is planned for Birmingham city centre will be one of the first of its kind. The pioneering industry for driverless cars which is currently centred around the West Midlands. To name but a few.

Could all of this innovation, plus our status as the youngest city in Europe and the hosts of the 2022 commonwealth games, be a chance for Birmingham to finally have its ‘truth’? A chance for us to position as the fittest, most athletic, healthiest city? A chance to put the question of ‘brand Birmingham’ to bed once and for all? With one simple, powerful focus.

The sustainable city.

Saira Demmer
CEO, SF Recruitment