Amy Crawford: Struggling to address diversity in recruitment is costing UK employers

Part and parcel of operating a business is being able to overcome challenges on a daily basis. This has been put to the test over the past few years however with some of the most turbulent and challenging times in living memory, highlights Amy Crawford.

From an organisational standpoint, the need to attract a fresh, diverse pool of talent has never been greater. Covid 19, Brexit, ‘the great resignation’, a shortage of available talent, a cost of living crisis and the looming threat of recession have all tested the resolve and capabilities of leaders like never before.
For many, the pressure to stay profitable amid such challenges is real. What most organisations have failed to realise, even the most progressive, is that a solution to these challenges is right in front of them.

Diversity of thought

Diverse teams have time and again proven to be the key to unlocking and driving innovation and, in turn, profitability. Industry at large has been too slow to recognise this and extend recruitment practices beyond traditional routes to attract a wider range of candidates.

As even the most hardened organisations start to feel the pinch from rising costs, slashed L& D budgets and an ever-more competitive, post-pandemic marketplace , those that lack the talent to innovate and grow will likely face a grim future.

It begs the question – why are organisations still struggling to find talent?

The answers are painfully straightforward.

They simply don’t know where to look to access this talent pool and secondly, their brand doesn’t appeal to the people they’re looking to attract
Organisations are missing out on some of the best and brightest from non-traditional higher education backgrounds. This is not to knock higher education, but an over-reliance on university graduates prevents a huge number of talented people from getting jobs in business, despite the fact they have the cognitive and behavioural skills to thrive in these positions.

Recruitment practices

Recruiting from talent pools outside of the traditional routes represents a fundamental shift from current practices. Many simply don’t target anyone from outside this narrow ‘graduate’ group because they simply don’t know how to assess talent in an unbiased and skills-based way.

It naturally follows then that these organisations are also either unknown or undesirable to these potential candidates and aren’t perceived as having a diverse workforce (ergo, an inclusive culture).

Within the broader context of the current job market and economic climate, this is costing organisations in both profitability and reputation. Our insights on Gen Z show that 41 percent expect inclusivity in recruitment practices and culture is the most important factor when looking for their first role, with a whopping 78% citing it as important.

How to access a fruitful talent pool

However, there are two sides to every story, and while many recruitment programmes are currently missing the mark there is a huge opportunity for those who do get it right to access an untapped and fruitful talent pool.

For organisations looking to evolve their talent strategy to accelerate innovation through diversity, our work with some of the UK’s most progressive enterprises has identified five winning elements.

Reconsider your job entry requirements – Avado believes the notion of a ‘graduate’ only scheme is outdated. While there are many advantages to graduate qualifications, these schemes mean you are restricting access to many other talented individuals who have chosen different paths or may not have had the means to access higher education.

Diverse talent

Explore different paths to attract diverse talent – If you are managing early careers recruitment in-house, resourcing outreach to different communities can be a challenge. There are many alternatives today. Initiatives such as Avado’s work-readiness programme FastFutures, provide young people from all backgrounds with the digital business skills organisations need, kick-starting their careers and addressing the skills gap for employers.

Such initiatives also match candidates’ skills to job profiles to make recruiting the right candidates simpler. Some of the UK’s most innovative businesses are FastFutures employer partners including BT, Legal & General, NHS and Shell, a ll of whom benefit from Avado’s inclusive talent acquisition engine.

Culture must be centre-stage

Move beyond CVs – Often CVs represent how well a candidate can sell themselves, meaning they can be less than objective. Some people are naturally better at promoting themselves than others so future stars can be screened out. Avado sees things differently. Its AI-powered candidate role-matching and assessment platform uses behavioural data and real insights to place talent in the right roles to excel.

Ensure culture is centre stage – Research shows that organisational culture is the number one factor Gen Z are looking for from their first employer. Being truly inclusive and providing a culture of learning and development can be true differentiators.

Allow people to earn while they learn – Apprenticeships allow for on-the-job training which incorporates real-life business challenges, meaning both employees (new and existing) and employers benefit from skill development, which has a measurable impact on an organisation’s bottom line. Employees are also able to earn a living wage as they learn.

Diversity in recruitment is no longer just a nice-to-have for businesses who want to thrive – it is a necessity for them to survive.

Amy Crawford, is the Chief Executive Officer at Avado.

Read the article in HR Review here

Danielle Roper

Posted July 20, 2022