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Competition is fierce in the recruitment industry. Being recognized for excellence is important for setting yourself apart in the eyes of job seekers, and the RI Awards—the industry’s biggest competition held annually in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Japan—is one of the most sought-after accolades.

This year’s black-tie gala, co-produced by Custom Media, publisher of The ACCJ Journal, brought together the biggest and best recruitment companies in Japan on July 29 at Tokyo American Club.

A judging panel of 14 industry experts selected the winners, and RI Awards Director David Head presented 18 trophies to 14 companies.

Head spoke to The ACCJ Journal about why he thinks the honors are important. “It’s just the sheer fact that we reward—and look for—the best in the recruitment sector. It’s a great way for us to highlight the industry we work in and the great people we have in the industry. That’s what it’s all about.”

One way in which the RI Awards highlight important issues in recruitment—and thus encourage companies to evolve and advance individual sectors—is through named awards. One example is diversity and inclusion (D&I), which is a hot topic in Japan. Having a prize specifically for D&I is a great way to inspire recruiters to think more carefully about inclusion, to assess the composition of their team, and to help diversify the workplace in Japan. This year’s Diversity & Inclusion Champion award went to Michael Page International (Japan) KK.

Lawrence Shalberg of executive search brokerage The Agency feels that winning two prestigious RI Awards is a testament to the success of his company, which took home both the Best Small Recruitment Company to Work For and the Best Newcomer—Rising Star awards. He said the distinctions were “very honoring” and that it seems the size of a company need not determine the impact it makes.

The Business Leader of the Year award went to Matt Nicholls of RGF Professional Recruitment Japan. The prize goes to an individual, but Nicholls doesn’t see it as a solo honor. “We have such a strong team, so that’s why I think we won it. And it shows in the growth of the company. We have gone from 19 to 123 staff and we have great people.”

Recruitment was virtually non-existent in Japan until this year’s RI Hall of Fame winner, Yasujiro Okano, founded the pioneering recruitment firm Staff Service in 1960. Fast-forward 47 years and Japanese giant Recruit Holdings Co., Ltd. bought the company for $1.5 billion.

The range of contenders in the 2018 RI Awards shows just how far recruitment has come since Okano’s innovation nearly six decades ago, and how the hard work of each company—and the contributions recruiters are making to the workforce—are changing Japan and the world for the better. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

2018 Recruitment International Award Winners

IT & Technology Recruitment Company of the Year

Healthcare & Life Sciences Recruitment Company of the Year

Best CSR Initiative
Morgan Mckinley

Banking & Finance Recruitment Company of the Year
Robert Walters

Best Back Office Team of the Year
Robert Walters

Growth Company of the Year
Robert Walters

Rising Star
The Agency

Best Small Recruitment Company to Work For
The Agency

Best Large Recruitment Company to Work For

Best Medium Recruitment Company to Work For

Best Specialist Recruitment of the Year

Diversity & Inclusion Champion
Michael Page

Technical & Industrial Recruitment Company of the Year
Boyd & Moore

Best RPO Provider
Boyd & Moore

Best Executive Search Company of the Year
RGF Executive Search Japan

Business Leader of the Year
RGF Professional Recruitment Japan

Outstanding HR & Recruitment Professional of the Year
Shinsuke Hoshi, en world Japan K.K.

RI Hall of Fame
Yasujiro Okano

Megan Casson is a staff writer at Custom Media for The ACCJ Journal.