CSR Views: Q&A with Marie Broad

Marie Broad, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at recruitment company SThree, speaks with Heart of the City about their partnership with Generating Genius, the charity that supports talented young people people from disadvantaged backgrounds to realise their potential with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), their shortlist for a Lord Mayor’s Dragon Award and their relationship with Heart of the City.

1. Tell us about your role leading CSR at SThree and what makes it so rewarding?


I can genuinely say I love my job!  I’ve been at SThree, a global recruitment business specialising in STEM, for over six years. Since 2011 I’ve been able to build up the global programme around a vision of ‘Transforming Lives through Skills and Work’ and to date have won four awards.

My current remit is employee volunteering, fundraising and corporate giving, apprenticeships, work experience, scholarships, overseeing carbon footprinting, carbon offsetting, supporting recycling and efficiencies, and helping push forward our inclusion and diversity programme, as well as reporting on other workplace initiatives. I took on an apprentice a few years ago, and she’s now permanent in CSR which has been a brilliant development.

I am really passionate about helping people start meaningful careers that will lead to economic independence and reaching their potential. There is so much talent out there and it’s our responsibility to utilise the best we have to offer, in terms of skills, experience and networks to make a positive contribution.

SThree is a very high energy, action-oriented company, where community involvement is deeply embedded in how we operate. The social impacts that we achieve is very rewarding and keeps me motivated.

2. SThree are currently partnering with Generating Genius to attract more students into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and job roles and making this area of work more attractive to them – can you tell us more about this partnership and how it came about?


From our market and client knowledge, we are very aware of the skills gap and that many of the best paid jobs will be STEM-related. It’s also clear that to address some of the world’s biggest challenges, across areas such as health, environment, security etc STEM will play a critical role.

In November we launched an SThree Foundation with a mission to support young people from underprivileged and diverse backgrounds into STEM to expand the talent pipeline. We worked with Generating Genius to engage 30 schools in disadvantaged areas in London to promote our Future Talent programme and through an application and interview process, selected 50 students to support over the course of two years. Of the cohort, 70% are female to readdress the current gender imbalance going into the industries.

We have run workshops at SThree and placements with external organisations to provide exposure and create professional networks. This engagement also supports companies’ diversity and talent agendas.

We’re now planning STEM University Scholarships, UCAS application sessions and a fundraising ball this month to help raise funds so that more young people can be supported.

You can find out more about our Foundation and partnership with Generating Genius here.

3. Generating Genius and SThree have been shortlisted for a Lord Mayor’s Dragon Award for this partnership – what makes the programme and the partnership so special?


It’s a really exciting partnership playing to both organisations’ strengths. We work very closely together so that our people can become an extension of Generating Genius – we don’t want to reinvent the wheel, rather we want to add additional capacity to what is already producing a strong track record of results. All levels and functions across our business are involved in the partnership, with our CEO at the forefront speaking at events and workshops, which has really mobilised employee and external support.

Being a global recruiter means that we are best placed with our external relationships to bring in the right partners at the right time to maximise the difference that we can all make collectively.

4. What top three tips would you give an SME on how to provide a valuable work experience placement for a student?


Never feel that just offering one placement a year won’t make a difference. If you can only support one student and really get to know their career ambitions, giving them tailored experience and advice – that will make the world of difference to that young person and help tackle social mobility.

The most important aspect, is to reach out and find a student who wouldn’t ordinarily have access to these type of opportunities, and try not to only go for the easier option of friends and family members.

We find the best way to do this is in partnership with a charity or school so that they can provide wider support and help if any challenges arise.

5. What were you like as a student and did you enjoy Science and Technology at school?


I really enjoyed science at school, although in later years came at it from more of a philosophical angle – I did a module on quantum mechanics within my Theology degree and wrote my Masters’ (Ethics) thesis on Human Cloning!

6. What advice would you give to a student unsure about their career path?


Try to work out what your strengths are and what you enjoy most (i.e. when time flies and you’re in ‘the zone’) – this could be a good starting point to then meet relevant professionals and find out how they started out and if they can offer you any opportunities within their organisations. Don’t be afraid to try things and then decide that that route isn’t for you. Initially I trained as a teacher, but then realised I wanted a different career and took my teaching experience into CSR which has been a huge benefit.

7. SThree has been a great support to Heart of the City for many years, and in your capacity as a Contributor you have given professional CSR advice to our members at our events and through mentoring our members on developing their CSR programmes. Why do you support Heart of the City and what have you found most rewarding in your capacity as a Heart of the City Contributor?


Heart of the City is a fantastic charity, I got so much from doing the Newcomers programme when I first moved into CSR, and now thoroughly enjoy mentoring and sharing ideas with other members. Networking and collaboration is one of my favourite aspects of CSR and know how taking that approach can really propel your programme forward. I love being part of such a strong and vibrant network and feel very honoured to play a part in it. Thank you to the amazing Heart of the City team!

Marie with apprentice Olida, who is now a permanent member of the CSR team at SThree.


You can read more about SThree’s CSR initiatives here.

Marie is part of the Heart of the City Contributor network.

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