Jess May – Enabled Employment
What’s your company’s point of difference?
Enabled Employment uses a mainstream recruitment company model, but uses positive discrimination to provide job opportunities to our inclusion groups. These are people who have trouble accessing work opportunities because of discrimination, such as people with a disability, ex-Australian Defence Force personnel and their family members, seniors, carers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
The employers who advertise jobs on our site are specifically looking to increase their diversity in the workplace, and be inclusive of the entire range of people who represent real diversity.
We broker accessibility arrangements for those who require them, and employers who work with us don’t receive government subsidies for employing a person from our candidate pool. We decided to run the company without the government subsidies available under the Australian Government Disability Employment Framework and other employment schemes, firstly to show what people with a disability can do through establishing a successful business, and secondly to lead the way forward in eliminating discrimination in employment by normalising the recruitment of the best candidate for the job.
How did Head Over Heels provide practical support?
Heads Over Heels has arranged the most amazing introductions to both investors and to potential employers, and the business mentoring I’ve received has been invaluable. Heads Over Heels supported us in practical terms in so many ways, in business, introductions, networking, mentoring and even with media liaison when we travelled to New York to accept three Gold Stevie Awards® and a Silver Stevie Award® for Women in Business.
What is the single biggest thing that helped you grow?
Adversity and developing resilience has helped me grow, facing adversity in finding the right investors in a business that many were sceptical would work, and in life generally. To succeed in changing the world, you need situations in which you face adversity, because your resilience and strength will grow from it. Challenge makes you stronger, in a business sense, if you’re determined to change the status quo.
Who or what were your “connections for growth”?
The connections we received from Heads over Heels have been invaluable and have included our first corporate contract, business revenue from new clients worth over $1 Million and investment in our Company of $250,000. The mentoring and business connections that I have also built have been a guiding source in understanding and navigating the start-up world and business in general.
What one thing would you do differently?
If I could do one thing differently it would be to have founded Enabled Employment years earlier. But, until 2012, I hadn’t had the circumstances or the idea for the business until I faced my own adverse challenges in the workplace.
What advice would you offer the women following you?
Be fierce in your belief and fiercer in your determination. If you’re going to change the world, you have to believe you can do it and find ways to make it happen. Build a team of like minded people, who are just as fierce in their belief and determination, and find great mentors. Be prepared to screen out investors who don’t believe in the social change you’re trying to achieve, and choose a great Board to advise you and the business.
It’s a rollercoaster ride, and it’s wild! Everyone should do at least one startup, it’s a great experience and the entire world opens up to you, and to your idea.