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A lot has been posted online about Collar Group’s slide into voluntary administration.

Some of it measured, some of it accusatory, some of it nasty and some of it rather hypocritical.

An example of the last type of comment arrived in my LinkedIn messages recently.

The recruitment agency owner who messaged me included a screenshot of an anodyne congratulatory comment of 14 words I made in response to a Linkedin post made by Collar CEO Ephram Stephenson in late 2023 about his “CEO of the Year 2023 – Highly Commended” award by The CEO Magazine ANZ. The owner accompanied this screenshot with his assessment of both my comment and my blog post about Stephenson in late February.

Ross, this (referring to the screenshot he had included in the message) is doing the rounds on one of our group chats. Former CEOs and leaders of major staffing companies in our industry!

To be honest, I was quite disappointed to see this. At best it shows you’ve lost objectivity and worst you were part of the same champagne sipping group backslapping such hollow achievement?

The reason leaders are so angry about this, is because anyone who has run a large staffing company knows how hard it is to balance shareholder expectations, keep staff employeed and deliver to customers who expect ever lower total labour costs. The issues about Collar goes right to the heart of our professionalism and integrity. They deserve to be held accountable as does everyone who was complicit.

The owner who messaged me is not an individual member of the RCSA and his agency is not a corporate member of the RCSA.

This ‘disappointed’ owner seems to think he’s contributing to lifting ethical standards in our industry by passing judgement on people like me in anonymous WhatsApp groups and posting on Linkedin calling out the ‘shame’ of those people who ‘encouraged the recklessness of Collar’s CEO’ (I assume he’s referring to me, among unnamed others, in his post although he doesn’t name names).

There are many hundreds of recruitment agency owners who put their money where their mouth is when it comes to lifting the ethics and professional standards across our industry. These owners are prepared to pay their membership dues each year, commit their staff to completing Code of Professional Conduct training, and volunteer their time on the many RCSA committees and special interest groups.

Why isn’t this ‘disappointed’ owner among them?

What would he have found had he looked into my decades-long commitment to raising the standards in the Australian recruitment industry?

He would have found out I was, at the age of 28, the convenor of the NSW Ethics Committee National Association of Personnel Consultants (the NAPC was one of the two founding bodies of the RCSA) in the early 1990s and more than three decades later remain involved with upholding and furthering professional conduct in the industry as a member (for the past 6 years) of the RCSA’s Professional Practise Council (PPC).

If he went digging beyond what’s publicly available he would have discovered my investment of around 20 volunteer hours each year as a member of the RCSA’s  Professional Conduct Review Committee (PCRC). The PCRC hears cases of alleged poor professional practise by RCSA members to help the member recognise ‘the professional thing to do’ which almost always resolves the matter in a non-combative and low-cost way.

Many other owners and leaders also volunteer tens of hours each year as members of the PPC and PCRC – I am proud to work with these leaders, along with the RCSA CEO, Charles Cameron and his team, on behalf of the RCSA Board, in doing the invisible backroom work that helps raise the standards of our industry.

If this ‘disappointed’ owner had trawled back through my 770 blog posts he might also have realised (or been reminded) I write about topics and people nobody else touches publicly.

Not only am I prepared to do the behind-the-scenes volunteer work with the RCSA I am also prepared to ‘name names’ when I write about stupidity, incompetence and unethical behaviour impacting the recruitment industry.

Some examples include:

  • the incompetence, obfuscation and lying of the Rubicor directors (ten blog posts),
  • the lies, mistruths and grandiose statements of recruitment industry ‘disruptors’ (at least a dozen blog posts),
  • the unethical and one-sided reporting of the recruitment industry by the mainstream media (at least six blog posts)
  • the incompetence of the Ignite chairman (eight blog posts),
  • the façade of FutureYou’s success (four blog posts),
  • the misogynistic, aggressive and hypocritical behaviour of Michael Page leaders at a company snow retreat (four blog posts)
  • the ridiculous nature of government recruitment tenders (six blog posts),
  • the monopoly-adjacent practises of SEEK (over a dozen blog posts),

As a self-employed person ‘naming names’ makes no commercial sense for me – I receive zero income from my newsletter and blog (as well as costing me hours I could be investing in income-earning activities) yet my willingness to ‘name names’ alienates (at best) or enrages (at worst) a percentage of the potential users of my services.

Do I make mistakes in my blogs? Yes.

Do I publish things I later regret? Yes.

Have I apologised for things I have written? Yes.

I have written over one million words in my nearly 17 years as a blogger and I remain my own harshest critic when it comes to the standards I aspire to.

Yet I keep writing and publishing each week, naming names where and when I see fit and I still keep renewing my RCSA membership each year.

I do these things because I love being on the field of play, doing the hard yards with others like me – contributing to raising the ethics, skills and behaviour of the recruitment industry; abiding by the Code of Professional Conduct and resourcing the RCSA through the payment of my RCSA membership each year.

I invite this ‘disappointed’ owner and others like him to join me on the field of play – to take action that makes a real difference in the long term – because judgemental WhatsApp groups and LinkedIn posts complaining about unethical behaviour don’t change anything.

Related blogs

Michael Page in deep snow: A monumental failure of leadership

RCSA/ANRA members outperform ‘disruptor’ Mable by 2045%

What are you on about, Ross?

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James Purtell

Ross, as a long time reader of your blog, buyer of your services, listener of your podcasts, fellow RCSA member and volunteer on RCSA committees myself, I would like to publicly say there couldn’t be a stronger champion of industry standards or defender of the industry generally than you and you put your time and money where your mouth is. Your reporting has been frank and fearless over the years as you have stated in this most recent blog.
Thank you, Ross, for all you do.

People who know your work and have half a brain would have noted, among other things, your wary words towards the end of your more recent blog:

“For a 35-year industry veteran like me, who’s seen it all before when it comes to rapid-growth recruitment companies, I remain somewhat skeptical that such enormous year-on-year growth can continue”

There are many examples in our industry of people pointing the finger at others when they should, in fact, be looking in the mirror. Your recent LI messenger sounds like one of those people – no industry membership, no input to our industry, no contributor to policy or industry standards – just a taker of everyone else’s hard work. I know what i’d be doing what that message…

Last edited 1 month ago by James Purtell
Luke Singleton

Great post Ross and thank you for all that you do for our industry

Phil Isard

Hey Ross, I’m no a blogger, so I don’t understand why you actually needed to write a blog about this. Your reputation is strong, and people that know you aren’t thinking this (well, I’m not).

Mistakes we all make (most of the time we think we are right, or have the right info), I’ve made many, and lucky they aren’t in the public domain.

Keep doing what ya doing Ross.


sharon vandermeer

I have been an avid supporter of yours for decades Ross and cannot say hi enough how highly you uphold the ethics in our Industry completely.

I love that you say it how it is – good, bad and the ugly plus providing such interesting and important content to us all through your blogs. I am so appreciative of the content and look forward to it each week. It has made e a better recruiter and leader!

As I say many times a day – stay in your lane to those who cast aspersions and criticisms. Make sure your backyard is gleaming before you criticize another.

Keep on keeping on Ross – you make an incredible impact in this space and are admired for it!

Charles Cameron

Thanks for all you do Ross which, unfortunately in this case, is to highlight the rank hypocrisy of some. You call it as it is, including calling me out on occasion, and I listen. #loveyourwork

Nina Mapson Bone

Ross, you sum it up well. Yes, none of us get it right 100% of the time but the key, to upholding professional standards is to so sign up and do the work, which is exactly what you demonstrate. I 100% back you in this post. Keep it up.

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