Changing Lives through Conscious Hiring

Mary Malone McCarthy, CEO of M3 Placement and Partnership

​Mary Malone McCarthy, CEO of M3 Placement and Partnership, follows a long tradition of Conscious Leadership that began with her father and continues in the way that she practices Conscious Capitalism with all of her stakeholders. She reveals some insights on how she uses its principles to support her company’s Higher Purpose of changing people’s lives.

Meet Mary Malone McCarthy 

For Mary Malone, the founder and CEO of M3 Placement & Partnership, it all started with a vision of excellence. She had a dream to surpass all expectations when it came to a strategic HR and executive search firm and most importantly, changing people’s lives. As a certified MWBE (Minority/Women-owned Business Enterprise), she works both regionally and nationally with an emphasis on helping both companies and potential employees achieve ultimate success. Growing up in a family business, Mary Malone lives by a philosophy she learned from her father: “Do a little more, a little better” each and every day. At M3, she enjoys spending time with both clients and candidates alike, and developing meaningful, deep-rooted partnerships with them. With each developing relationship and each opportunity, she gives her all to providing clients and candidates with an unwavering commitment of excellence.


Mary Malone McCarthy’s Conscious Capitalism story begins with her father. The CEO of a telecommunications company, Mary Malone describes her dad as an “unconscious Conscious Capitalist.” She tells us, “He was extremely committed to the employees, to the customers, to the community, the vendors, the partners; always putting those stakeholders first and foremost. That's how we were brought up as a family and working in the family business. For example, if someone was working late, he'd stop by their desk and he sincerely wanted to know how they were doing as a person, how their family was doing and if they enjoyed being a part of the company. When he passed away so many people wanted to share their personal experiences and told me, 'I've never worked for a person who genuinely cared about me and my family. There was never a doubt that I came first and foremost being a part of this organization.'”  

Not surprisingly, when she was introduced to Conscious Capitalism, a way of practicing business that focuses on elevating humanity; it felt like she had “come home”. Mary Malone tells us, “I really saw from a talent perspective and from an organizational perspective how important those Conscious Capitalism principles are - you can't recruit and retain the best talent if you're not a conscious business.”

Conscious Business is Built on Authenticity and Values

M3 Placement and Partnership is not your typical strategic HR and talent placement company; they are founded on a vision that creates opportunities for both companies and candidates alike, in an environment that is nurturing and committed to changing lives. Mary Malone’s father modelled this people-centered approach to business. She also had early professional experiences that solidified her approach. Mary Malone tells us, “When I was in HR roles before starting my firm, I saw national organizations that would move people all over the country, they'd move their families, knowing that they were going to let them go in 6 months or 12 months’ time. I actually left a company because I thought, “This doesn't feel right for me to be following the values of an organization that isn't putting their people first.’” 

Mary Malone knew her company would be different. She built M3 Placement & Partnership on a set of values that prioritize people, she tells us, “The word that comes first and foremost to me, and I use it all the time at M3, is authentic. We are really intentional with who joins the M3 team and that means we're happy to have you on the good days and the bad. You know, that's being human. We spend a lot of time living our values - authenticity, integrity, changing lives, and exceeding expectations. We have a huge responsibility to not just think about the dollars and cents and the bottom line; we have people that come to work and trust us every single day that we're going to take care of them and their families the communities that we're a part of and the partners that we work with.”

For Mary Malone, the Conscious Capitalism principles - Conscious Leadership, Higher Purpose, Stakeholder Orientation, and Conscious Culture -  reinforce what her father taught her about building a conscious business that prioritizes people and always doing the right thing. It is their values that help M3 Placement and Partnership distinguish itself from other companies. 

Mary Malone tells us, “Conscious Capitalism helps us elevate that conversation with our clients and I think that's also how we differentiate ourselves as an organization, because M3 isn't a great fit for everybody. We are steadfast in not working with companies that are not committed to their employees and to their culture and to their community. I lead first and foremost with our values as a priority and then taking great care of our customers and our clients.”

Higher Purpose is a Guiding Compass in Good Times and Bad

Mary Malone brings the principles of Conscious Capitalism to life with all of her stakeholders, and at M3 Placement and Partnership it begins with their Higher Purpose - We change lives. 

She tells us, “We talk about our Higher Purpose all the time; it's truly our guiding compass. We change people’s lives every single day and it's incredibly rewarding; it's very exciting especially when someone's perhaps had a bump in the road or had gotten a bad rap and you can actually advocate for them to get them their new role, their new position. We tell the story behind the resume. When we do what we do well; we change a person's life. They're going to go home a better spouse, partner, daughter, son. They're going to go home a different person in the community with a different lens of how they can show up and contribute. I wholeheartedly believe we have an awesome opportunity to elevate humanity by changing their lives.”

Mary Malone shares a few key insights and practical examples of how M3’s Higher Purpose was born and how it has guided them through good times and bad: 

Trust your gut. Anyone who has undergone the process of truly identifying their Higher Purpose, understands that it can be challenging. For Mary Malone, she was concerned that M3’s Higher Purpose - “We change lives” – was too broad, but her gut kept telling her otherwise. She tells us “When we first had an offsite and were coming up with our Higher Purpose, I kept coming back to ‘We change lives’. We impact people and we change lives. I worried at first that it wasn't clear enough, but it just felt right. I am truly grateful too; it has been that guiding compass through all these years.”

A strong Higher Purpose can help you to make difficult decisions. A Higher Purpose is not a slogan, and it’s not a marketing tool. Your Higher Purpose is a tool that aligns your company’s purpose with the needs of the stakeholders it serves. On a day-to-day basis, it’s a critical tool that can support you in decision making and can even challenge you. Mary Malone tells us, “It may sound repetitive but when we're making hard decisions about a candidate or a client or any of the difficult decisions that come up every single day - so often we'll come back to ‘What are our values? What's the right thing to do?’ and it's amazing because having a strong Higher Purpose does make difficult decisions easier – especially when we bring it back to that.” 

Higher Purpose can help you navigate unexplored territory. Whether you're expanding your offerings or experiencing a “new normal”; it’s easy to veer off track when you find yourself in unchartered territory. Higher Purpose can be used as a tool to navigate a course back to what you stand for or believe in. Mary Malone tells us, “Even with Covid 19, my team and I are continuously talking about our Higher Purpose, and we realized our sole purpose hasn't changed: We change lives. We impact people. And now we're changing lives and impacting people in an era that nobody could have ever imagined. We're just shifting how we're impacting lives, so now the focus may be doing pro bono work to help companies restart or hiring top performers virtually. I believe we have to make the time, to care at the highest level, and to help everybody whether it's in our job description or on our calendar or not.”

Ways to Use this Story 

Reflection Questions

The following reflection questions are designed to help you think more deeply about Mary Malone’s story and potentially apply some of the insights revealed to your own life and practice of Conscious Capitalism. It may help to answer these questions in a journal, or simply find a quiet space to reflect for a few minutes.

  • Thinking back on your life experiences, what are your highest values and where do you think these values came from?
  • In what ways do your values influence the way you practice business?
  • Has your personal and/or company’s Higher Purpose ever helped you navigate your way through a difficult time? What was that like?
  • Thinking back on the last 2 weeks, in what ways (if any) has your Higher Purpose helped you to make difficult decisions?
  • How can you better utilize your Higher Purpose to support you when making difficult decisions?

Discussion Questions

Now that you’ve reflected on Mary Malone’s story as well as your own story, you may want to bring some of these questions to other members of your team.

  • What are our company’s values and in what ways do you see these values playing out in our Higher Purpose?
  • In what ways do our company’s values influence the way we practice business every day?
  • In what ways do our values influence the culture we work in? What can we do better?
  • Do you think our Higher Purpose is a useful tool for helping you navigate difficult situations at work? Why or why not?

Tools You Can Use

Following their Higher Purpose, Mary Malone McCarthy and her team created resources to help businesses navigate hiring and onboarding in a virtual world. She tells us, “Leading up to the pandemic, we had a number of our clients that were putting offers together and getting ready to onboard talent or that were in the final interview phase and everything just went lights out; everything just shut down. People were so afraid. I had clients that we’re saying, ‘I don't know how to keep this interview process going right now. We desperately need this person; this role needs to be filled but how do I interview? I’ve got people all over the country that need to interview this person!’ On the flip side, the candidates were nervous. So we put a candidate interview sheet together and shared that with our stakeholders. Even after successfully hiring the candidate, they got stuck again, they were saying, ‘We can't onboard this person, because we don't know how to do this virtually.” So we said, ‘Okay. Let's talk a little bit about how we would do that in a virtual setting, so we put these tips and guides together. There was a lot of live conversation, but we were there to support them, because that’s what we do, we change lives. If there's a way that we can plug in and kind of get you through this hurdle (among many right now), we're so happy to do that. So we’ve put together these templates to help people. We’ve shared them with our clients and anyone else who may need to use them.”

Please feel free to use the following resources to support you with hiring and on-boarding:

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