Skip to content

Charles, on stage with SHAPERS (L-R) Tom Harkin, Michelle Rushton, Mykel Dixon, at RCSA’s SHAPE 2022, Hobart, September 2022

Ross: Charles, it’s been seven years and nearly three months and a bit years since your first day as RCSA CEO, in May 2016, what gives you the most professional satisfaction when you reflect on your tenure in the Australian recruitment industry’s hottest seat?

Charles: Hands down, the progression of the industry from competitors to collaborators.  I’m competitive, myself, and that’s why I love recruitment and staffing leaders, but when you put people in a room, or on a Zoom, and share stories and opportunities, the result is the realisation that we are better together – better for clients, better for candidates, better for workers and better for Australia and New Zealand.  I guess that’s the ‘associate’ in association.

Ross: In our first interview, a few weeks after you started at the RCSA, you said that you “…felt that more could be done to promote our value to government, enterprise and, importantly, the wider public” and “….that there are many stakeholders who simply don’t understand the value we offer and the way in which we contribute to economy and society.” How do you rate your success in addressing this lack of knowledge across the recruitment industry’s major stakeholders?

Charles: I’m a realistic marker Ross, so on a road-map from point 1 to point 10 we’ve only passed the half way mark.  We have a long way to go.  I am driven by the need to better share the value of the professional recruitment and staffing firms of Australia and New Zealand.  Yes, COVID has provided us with a big leap forward, but now we must double down on that and not revert back to transactional recruitment.  I might be being a bit hard on myself, given the great work in Surge Workforce and NZ All of Government, but my motto is No Rest!

Ross: Another area that needed significant attention when you started as RCSA CEO was the sagging RCSA membership and engagement within the New Zealand recruitment community. What progress has been made in this area? What else needs to be done?

Charles: I recall Richard Fischer telling me RCSA had a ‘chronic under-engagement’ problem and, boy, has that driven me.  We have, in the most part, great engagement across our community.  We don’t get it right 100% of the time, but I’m super proud of our really high NPS, having more than 200 active volunteers working in member groups and the membership retention levels well north of 90% each year.

Ross: The most unexpected aspect of the past seven years was the huge disruption caused by the pandemic lockdowns and closed borders, across most of 2020 and 2021. First, as a leader, what have you learned about the RCSA’s organisational effectiveness when forced into remote work and, secondly, now that we are 18 months past the last of the lockdowns what, as an industry, do you hope we have learned from the forced switch to remote work?

Charles: The key thing I learned, during COVID, is that members look to their ‘community’ in times of crisis and RCSA is, first and foremost, a community supporter.  It was this response, and belief in us, that has inspired me no-end.  The other thing I learned was that corporate empathy, driven by good people, is an awesome thing to see and oversee.  I’ve also seen a big shift in our industry’s approach to diversity and inclusion.  Diversity, inclusion and belonging is no longer something we support clients with, it is something we own ourselves.  More work to be done, for sure, but our collective personality changed for the better.  We grew up during COVID.

Ross: Across the pandemic both state and Federal Governments made some ignorant, compromised, and bewildering decisions that revealed their respective ignorance about the recruitment and staffing industry. What do you expect, or hope,  governments, in general, have learned about our industry and the difference between the services of RCSA members and the offerings of the various online employment marketplaces?

Charles: This ignorance stems from the fact that politicians, like many others they represent, really don’t understand the intricacies of sourcing, placing and supporting people at work.  They think that, because they have hired somebody before, there isn’t a lot to it.  Therefore they aren’t prepared to properly invest in the service.  This attitude has been around for decades and our industry has never been more in demand.  As I get older, I realise that politicians are, at the core, populists and promote the views of the population, regardless of how wise or ignorant they may be.  I wish I had better news for you Ross, but I’m not inspired by politics anymore.

Ross: It’s now one year since the election of both the Labor Government and a large crossbench of independents who are much more ethnically-diverse and gender-diverse than the members they unseated. Firstly, what advantages have these significant changes provided for our industry? And what are the disadvantages or concerns you may have?

Charles: I wish I could tell you that we have benefitted from a more enlightened federal government Ross, but there is no evidence of it.  A case in point was me presenting to new Greens Senator, Barbara Pocock, last year on the same-job-same-pay law where I highlighted the significant levels of employment of First Nations people by recruitment and staffing firms, as well as women in industrial roles.  Regardless of this, all this Professor could focus on was claims of exploitation by firms that we don’t even regard as part of our industry.  I am totally frustrated by the of work and work opportunity in Australia.  New Zealand, on the other hand, has a far more constructive understanding of how we benefit and support diversity. I know I bang on about the politics of work a lot Ross, but we have so far to go to be truly making law in the interests of candidates and workers, rather than political activists.

Ross: When you joined the RCSA the President was a man and the remainder of the ten-person board comprised a large majority of men. Currently, the RCSA President is Nina Mapson Bone and there are six other women on the Board. What difference has this change in gender composition made to the RCSA, if any?

Charles: I love working with women.  I find they, generally, offer me a wider field of view and allow me to be better through self-reflection and personal accountability.  I’m really proud that I am one of the leaders of an industry that has an exceptionally high number of female business owners, and directors.  We should be shouting this out.  We do, however, need more women leading our largest firms.  We’ll get there, I’m sure.

Ross: You’re coming up to your three-year anniversary as one of the two Vice Presidents of the World Employment Confederation. What are the main things you have gained from this experience?

Charles: I’ve learned that we need to look up and out to see how great we are.  To be honest, the challenges of our industry are shared across the globe and we are not unique.  I also use the WEC experience to observe the evolution of our industry, commercially and strategically.  I also know that the union attack on staffing and agency work is a globally coordinated attack, and that we must not underestimate how they want to limit flexible labour, because it disempowers them.

Ross: As RCSA CEO, what are your two or three key priorities for the 2024 financial year?

Charles: We have a new strategic direction, focused on creating a membership fit for the future.  We know that RCSA needs to continue to be accessible and relevant, and that starts with how we empower our wider community.  This will be a really big piece of work, because the way recruitment and staffing firms operate has changed significantly, and therefore we must too.  We are also investing in innovative suppliers to our members, to encourage greater collaboration and more productive services to customers.

Ross: Since our most recent interview in 2020, your father sadly passed away. In our initial interview, you mentioned his role as a beef cattle farmer, a winemaker and as an active member of the Victorian Farmer’s Federation. How do you reflect on his legacy and his impact on you, just over two years after his death?

Charles: My father was a great listener and enjoyed life and people.  I’ve made a conscious effort to listen more Ross.  I’ve also made more effort to share good times with people, especially my brother and sister.  His legacy is unity.  Hopefully, that legacy lives on in the RCSA ‘family’ in some way.  I hope so.

Ross: We have many areas of agreement, Charles, but the AFL is not one of them. Your Cats handed out a football lesson to my Swans in last year’s men’s Grand Final. Very painfully I was at the MCG to witness the carnage firsthand. Where did you watch the game and how did you celebrate Geelong’s fourth flag of your lifetime?

Charles: I had no idea you are a Swan Ross.  Hell, I would have given you a call after the game, as I did my other Swannie mates.  I was sitting in the middle of the MCC members at the MCG shouting my lungs out.  I’ve worked out the members are boring.  Might plonk myself in the middle of your crew next time.

Ross: Given our mutual love of 1960s soul women (and the more recent artists that channel that pure soul sound), you’re always good for an excellent recommendation – what have you got for me this time, Charles?

Charles: Have you jumped into Peggy Lee Ross?  Peggy’s been seducing me for the last year or so.  Pull out ‘Pass me By’ from 1965 and just add Negroni.  Bit more jazzy, but worth crossing the State line.

Ross: Thanks, Charles, I greatly appreciate your time

Below: Charles with Jakob Tietke from Denmark (left) and Even Hagelien from Norway (centre) in Brussels last year for the World Employment Conference.

Related blogs

Leading through COVID: an interview with RCSA CEO, Charles Cameron

Three years on: Interview with RCSA CEO, Charles Cameron

The Power of Community: Thank you Robert van Stokrom and Charles Cameron

One year on: Interview with RCSA CEO, Charles Cameron

Meet the new CEO of the RCSA (Aus & NZ): Charles Cameron

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Scroll To Top