When Suzanne Justice sat in her living room in 2018 mapping out her plans for Blake Rian Consulting, named after her daughter, she knew the work her firm did would be as meaningful as the moniker she gave it.
Today, Blake Rian Consulting is a WBENC Certified Woman Owned Business and SBA Certified Woman Owned Small Business, employing a 50% diverse, 100% female internal workforce. From the start, Justice, who had spent time working for large corporations prior to 2018, knew her firm would have one mission: to prioritize relationship-building over the transactional experience of simply filling empty seats.
After spending 13 years in the staffing industry, “I realized in the industry, the service level had changed, and ‘staffing’ kind of became a bad word,” Justice explains. “You really lost that personal touch and that relationship piece of it. I wanted to be able to work with my clients in a way that was most effective for them and their business models, versus, ‘This is what I do, this is how I do it, and you have to adhere to us.’”
So, despite wrangling a 15-month-old and being seven and a half months pregnant at the time, Justice knew it was time for her to act on her own vision.
Great draw. Reaching out to former clients, Justice quickly began to build her business and showcase the benefits of working with a smaller firm, where each client is considered a vital piece of their operation. Blake Rian’s certification has become a major draw for clients, who are showing increasing interest in working with diversity-certified suppliers.
“Not only does it give other corporations a chance to ‘play in the sandbox,’ if you will, it also helps recognize people who have overcome obstacles to get to where they are,” Justice says.
The certification is an attractor from the candidate side as well, who can reach out to Blake Rian without apprehension, knowing they are working with a company that values and respects all types of candidates. One group that Justice takes particular joy in working with is veterans, whom she describes as an incredible talent pool with countless strengths to offer employers.
Selling strengths. “What we really try to do with our business is sit down with our clients and explain to them how a person’s experience or transferable skills can be great for a position if it’s not something that’s specifically on their resume. It’s amazing to try to help veterans get back out in the workforce, and for clients to really see the value to what they bring to the table,” Justice says.
Blake Rian Consulting has a knack for identifying those transferable skills in their candidates — not just finding someone to fill a seat, but finding the perfect fit. Corrissa Kellett, the firm’s operations supervisor, can personally attest to Justice’s eye for spotting untapped talent. Kellett began as the nanny for Justice’s two children, and joined Blake Rian after Justice noticed various strengths that would make her an asset to the growing firm. For Kellett, the company’s diversity certification sent a strong message.
“One big attraction, seeing that certification, is that this is a place to feel safe, and feel like you’ll be heard,” Kellett says. Internal and external staff know that they’ll be taken care of, supported, and listened to as a member of the diverse Blake Rian team.
Beyond the business. The firm’s commitment to promoting diversity extends to the communities they work within, because, for Justice, it’s not enough to empower and support diverse groups during working hours. “It really goes outside of just our business,” she explains. “As a community, as a whole, what are we all doing to help promote diversity and how are we all participating?”
To that end, in July 2020, Blake Rian Consulting partnered with The Sophia Way, an organization that works to end homelessness for women by providing shelter, social services and housing, to fill a leadership position pro bono. Additionally, Blake Rian Consulting donates to causes that support girls in STEM, and often sponsors various charitable causes important to its team members.
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