Today companies prioritize better hiring decisions to find the right talent. While incorporation of technology has streamlined the staffing process, recruitment is inherently a service industry that relies heavily on the intuitiveness of a good recruiter to find the right fit between the organisation and the employee.

Equavantage Consulting currently offers sourcing, screening, and recruitment services with plans to expand into corporate training, diversity hiring and contract staffing.

Richa Shiromani, Managing Director of Equavantage Consulting is a dynamic business leader with a flair for discovering and nurturing talent. Richa is a charming, diligent, and empathetic professional with over 20 years of extensive project management experience with top MNCs globally. Consequentially, she has achieved industry credibility and enjoys excellent client rapport.

Richa notes,I am utilising my management and interpersonal skills to build a world-class HR consultancy that will bring positive differences to existing hiring practices. We prioritise client-candidate fitment and engage in collaborative working so that our clients can effectively fulfill their staffing needs with minimal time and capital expense. At Equavantage, we add a personal touch and focus on building careers of our candidates.

In an exclusive interview, Richa Shiromani and The CEO Magazine Editor conversed about her journey, challenges, her enterprising and driven women-centric team and the future of Equavantage. Here are some edited excerpts:

TCM: What motivates you?

Richa: I have already had a good career, now it’s time for me to make a difference. My motivation is bringing diversity and inclusivity into the workplace. At Equavantage we want to bring equal advantages and equity to those who otherwise would not get a fair chance to showcase their talents such as people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and employees who have taken career breaks.

Such opportunities are sorely missing in India. We want the industry to recognise that the attitude of candidates and their skill suitability, are the ONLY things that should matter in hiring.

TCM: What led to the coining of the idea to join the industry?

Richa: Entrepreneurship had been on my mind for a while and I realised the time was right when we returned from the US in 2020. Despite my fairly good career trajectory, as a trailing spouse, I have often had to give up my career aspirations for family.

I wanted to break free from the constraints of a corporate job, so my co-founder Shreya Shiromani and I decided to create a venture which would utilize both our skills, where we could make a difference and had flexibility. Inspired by the work I did in the US with a disability firm, I wanted to build an equal opportunity employment agency in India.

I knew my connections and experience in the corporate world would be beneficial. Shreya with over 15 years of experience in the academic field was looking for a fulfilling career change that would utilise her training, research, and writing capabilities.

Corporate Training, personal development, training for our diversity candidates and intensified focus on Diversity is in the works once our recruitment division takes off.

TCM: What are your firm’s mission and vision?

Richa: Our mission is to become an HR consultancy with a personalised touch. We want to make at-least a small difference in society. Eventually we want to work towards uplifting candidates who have different abilities.

We envision our company as a champion for women, the differently-abled, and the LGBT community. I understand how tough it is to ‘have it all’ and maintain the balance between career and family.

Equavantage encourages candidates with career breaks to get back into the workforce. Our all-women team at Equavantage clearly reflects this vision. We have hired several team-members with significant career breaks. A great example is Sheela Jaiswal, our highly enterprising Manager of Operations.

An extended career break did not affect her ability to be a fantastic manager who efficiently juggles between recruiting, training and client liaising. We are also actively looking for recruiters who are differently abled or from the LGBTQ community to join our team.

TCM: How does your firm differ from its the biggest competitors?

Richa: The innovative team at Equavantage is different from the average recruiter, and most of our clients and candidates will testify to this. We are able to build strong relationships with our clients as well as our candidates by genuinely caring about their requirements.

We take a personal interest and are very diligent about ensuring that not only the paying client but candidates too have a great experience dealing with us. This sets us apart.

TCM: In this journey, what were the failures your team rebounded and learned from?

Richa: When Shreya and I started Equavantage we did not have specific recruitment industry experience though we had expertise in direct hiring for our own teams. Moreover, being in the early stages of our entrepreneurial journey we faced challenges that many start-ups experience.

We had to navigate non-paying clients and lacked experience in contract negotiating. We can proudly say over time, we have built our own best practices to work effectively and improve our ROI. We continue to learn as we go along, and I have been fortunate enough to build a solid core team who is as fired up as I am, which helps us overcome speedbumps.

TCM: How would you define success for the firm? What are the recognitions it has earned over the years?

Richa: Success is relative, at this time in our start-up journey we are proud of having created a brand that is gaining recognition on its own. Our team’s hard work is being recognised by our clients through great reviews.

We were recently featured in the top recruitment firms in India and at number 3 in Hyderabad by in Jan & Feb. This gives us the confidence that we are doing the right things and that our presence is being noticed.

TCM: What are the upcoming trends in your industry?

Richa: Currently it’s a candidate’s market. There is an increasing reliance on social recruiting, while a wholesome candidate experience has become a key recruitment factor. Organisations are now hiring for soft skills as much as technical expertise. Data-driven and AI-powered recruiting may expand but finding the right organisational fit is more than check box matching up of qualifications and skills.

TCM: 2020 has created hostile situations for many brands, what are the challenges you are facing and how do you aim to overcome them?

Richa: We began full-fledged operations in 2021 when the unique ecosystem created by the pandemic was waning and the market was opening up so employers were unfreezing hiring and employees were looking for a change. As a recruitment firm, we were definitely at the right place at the right time.

However, recruitment is also seeing upheavals with unprecedented compensations being offered causing candidates to either jump jobs or go offer shopping which causes uncertainty for employers. We are dealing with this new shift by coaching candidates on the importance of job stability and choosing career growth over temporary hikes in salary.

TCM: What does the future hold for the company in the next five years?

Richa: After establishing operations in India, we plan to expand Equavantage’s presence to other countries, starting from the USA. Concurrently, we are expecting Corporate Training and Contract staffing divisions to take-off within the next five years.

TCM: Enlighten us a piece of advice you would like to offer to the young entrepreneurs?

Richa: If you have a unique idea that you believe in then by all means do your due diligence and make a solid plan, but also be brave and take a calculated risk. As the saying goes ‘Fortune rewards the bold!'

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