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Businesswoman Spotlight: Kathleen Duffy

With 3.7% unemployment and a remarkable recovery from COVID-19, the U.S. economy is the envy of the world. But low unemployment and 9 million open jobs, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report, have employers struggling to find talent.

Fortunately, Kathleen Duffy stands ready to help.

Duffy is president and CEO of her namesake Duffy Group, which has grown from a small enterprise in the spare bedroom of her home into one of the most respected recruiting companies in the nation.

She founded Duffy Group in 1991, helping organizations of all sizes rethink their approach to executive search. She developed Duffy Recruitment Research™, which gives clients an invaluable edge with deep insights and competitive intelligence that are essential for building the highest-functioning teams. In an industry dominated by traditional executive search methods, Duffy Group’s pioneering process enables organizations to uncover passive talent using a flexible hourly rate.

Today, Duffy and her team are at the helm of job searches in burgeoning fields such as health care, government, and manufacturing, along with alternative/renewable energy and other emerging industries. A growing number of high-profile nonprofits also rely on Duffy Group to fill critical roles on their leadership teams.

Her five-step process that targets and connects passive candidates with companies seeking talent for has been so successful that Duffy shares best practices in her book, Revolutionizing Recruitment: How Recruitment Research is Reshaping the Industry.

“Finding best-in-class talent remains one of corporate decision-makers’ biggest challenges,” Duffy said. “Duffy Recruitment Research™ is a flexible, collaborative and customized approach that can help savvy companies find and hire employees who have the skills to do the job and align with their companies’ missions and values.”

Friends and colleagues know that as a proud graduate of Arizona State University, Duffy bleeds maroon and gold. It was during her time at ASU that ignited her passion in recruitment. Through extra-curricular activities, she recruited students, including National Merit Scholars to ASU and members into the university’s Greek system.

Along with discovering her knack for finding best-in-class talent, Duffy learned the principles of leadership from her immigrant grandmother who put herself through nursing school, and her mother, also a nurse and leader in migrant health education, who ministered care to migrant children in Arizona.

Duffy’s leadership skills are central to building a workforce comprised of tight-knit employees who love coming to work, along with clients who return to her company for help again and again. The foundation of her success is leading with two core values – trust and integrity – that are often missing from many recruitment firms nationwide.

Founded on the premise of work-life balance, Duffy was among the first in the nation to lead an entirely remote workforce in the ‘90s – long before working from home became popular. It was all part of a plan to give team members flexibility, tools and support to thrive professionally and personally. She also has perfected the art of keeping our team engaged, investing about $450K per year in staff training and development.

When not filling open positions for clients, Duffy serves as a mentor for social entrepreneurs through Seed Spot, an incubator for those who are building a product, service or technology that makes the world a better place.

She is also a staunch advocate for women, serving as a member of the first formal mentoring program for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and past co-chair of the Phoenix chapter of 5050 Women on Boards, a global initiative to increase the number of women in company leadership positions and on corporate boards.

If that isn’t enough, Duffy addresses hard-hitting issues such as homelessness, helps build a bond between mothers and daughters and gives back to numerous other nonprofit and charitable causes. It’s all in the name of making our community a better place to live and work.

As a business leader and an engaged citizen, Kathleen has earned numerous honors, including from the Greater Phoenix Chamber, Arizona Society of Human Resource Management, the Phoenix Business Journal, Arizona Business Magazine and Arizona State University. She is a past recipient of the prestigious ATHENA Award in the private sector for her leadership, community service and dedication to mentoring women.