The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Recruiters have significant influence on Japan’s employment landscape. They help talented workers realize their potential and assist companies as they work to build and maintaining the best possible team. Recruiters can also be helpful when it comes to diversity and inclusion, putting them at the forefront of changing dynamics in the workplace. So, it only makes sense that the most impressive achievements in the industry should be recognized—and that’s where the Recruitment International (RI) Awards come in.

This year’s RI Awards will be held at Tokyo American Club on June 29, and anticipation is running high. The prestigious annual honors recognize the best recruiting companies and individuals in 18 categories, from recruiting in specific industries to the best corporate social responsibility. This is the first year the RI Awards is partnering with Tokyo-based bilingual digital content creation and communications agency Custom Media, publisher of The ACCJ Journal, adding another level of polish to the black-tie gala.

As David Head, director of the RI Awards explained, recruiting firms play a crucial role in identifying—and bringing out—the best in the Japanese business world. “These are the companies that specialize in finding the talent and people that keep Japan working. This can range from general worker dispatch and skilled temporary employees right through to senior C-level placements by professional recruitment companies and executive search firms.”

This is what inspired Robert Heldt, president and co-founder of Custom Media, to partner with the RI Awards. “In Japan, the workforce is very conservative; people don’t switch jobs that often. The trend is changing, so I think that recruiters play a vital role in helping educate the market,” he said. “As a creative communications agency that works with recruiters on a regular basis, we see the efforts that they put in; so, we feel a synergy with what they are doing to help drive change in employment.”

As Head points out, two of the things that make these awards stand out is their judging panel comprising recruitment industry experts, and the international nature of the awards, which are held in Australia, China, and the United Kingdom. The RI Awards, he said, is the biggest global recognition program for the industry.

Companies are encouraged to nominate themselves—as well as their most successful recruiters—for consideration, and entries have been streaming in steadily since the nomination period began in May, according to Head. By the June 13 deadline, he hopes to have fielded nominations from at least 40 of Japan’s top recruiting companies, for a total of about 100 entries.

The RI team selected their wide range of award cate­gories for their real-world impact and the fact that these awards confer a true advantage to the individuals and companies that win.

They also provide teams with some­thing they can be proud of. As Head points out: “We carefully choose the categories for the awards so that they bring in real tangible benefits for the companies that enter. The sector is highly competitive, so there is a real advantage to being able to say you have won an RI Award. Also, you should never underestimate the effect that winning has on the morale of your staff. Even if you don’t win, you are showing them how much you value and appreciate the work they do just by entering.”

Heldt cited the award for diversity and inclusion as being particularly important in Japan, given the governmental mandate to create more diverse workplaces. “Diversity and inclusion is a huge area. Japan has ambitious goals when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and I think that these recruiters are definitely a key part of reaching them. Being recognized by the RI Awards helps recruiters highlight achievements in this area, and that helps them drive change more actively.”

As the RI Awards has developed, the high esteem to which they are held not only gives winners significant bragging rights, it also helps them gain prominent position in the marketplace. “The unique purple-R trophy has become an iconic accolade all over the world,” Head explained. “For the companies that win, it is a great opportunity to use this kudos to position themselves as a market leader. It is not easy to win an award—in fact, getting shortlisted is becoming harder and harder as the program expands. It is this level of difficulty that makes the RI Awards so widely cherished and sought after.”

As Heldt sees it, the annual nature of the competition also pushes recruiting companies to excel year after year. “It helps you keep on your game. It’s like any sport: you’ve got to win every year. It’s about making sure that you’re delivering the best for your customers and for your team, and having that passion to excel. It helps you—and the leadership of your company—strive for something bigger.”

Nomination deadline: June 13, 2018

Alec Jordan is a staff writer at Custom Media for The ACCJ Journal.