is this the key to creating a diverse workforce?

Posted on 10/05/2017 by Adrian Kinnersley


Author: Stephanie Lloyd | Community Manager

Recently myself and two senior colleagues at Twenty took the DLR down to Canary Wharf to participate in a bi-annual roundtable discussion with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). They had brought together their key recruitment partners to discuss a strategy for creating a more diverse workforce, how we can support them and importantly how we can challenge them.

Building a pipeline

Diversity and Inclusion is a hot topic across the business world. Thankfully the discussion seems to have moved on from questioning “if we even need a diverse workforce?” to “how can we make this a reality?”. I have always found it quite surprising that diversity and inclusion has often been viewed as such an abstract concept by senior leaders across the business world. However, the real root causes of barriers that have prevented a diverse workforce are based in our education systems, society prejudices and cultural practices I can’t say I blame them for feeling this is a problem too large for them to tackle on their own.

The complexities of people’s identities and how that can affect their careers, their need to ‘cover up’ their true selves at work and their satisfaction in the workplace is starting to be explored in much more detail. We should no longer just talk about getting a woman or BAME person into the workplace but rightly looking at how we also ensure that there is a real intersection of identities within applicants – LGBT Women, social-economically diverse BAME people are just a few examples of these intersections.

As a recruitment sector, we have a duty to support and shape the initiatives of our clients. If businesses are going to meet their quotas or targets, and in turn change the make-up of their workforce, there is a need to ensure that the pipeline of diverse talent is getting through the selection, interview and offer stages of a recruitment process. Without the buy in and support from the recruitment sector to sell that talent into the business a diverse workforce will always be a dream rather than a reality.

Challenge us

I have spent most of my career so far working with businesses and organisations to help them find solutions to how they can diversify their workforce and so often these conversations only scratch the surface - but not this discussion. The FCA’s willingness to understand the complexities of these issues and importantly to be challenged by their suppliers was striking.

They wanted to be challenged on the profiles they are requesting, challenged on the profiles they are interviewing and challenged on the profiles they hire. If we are not doing a good enough job – you need to tell us. If we are not addressing our unconscious bias – tell us. A statement that you rarely hear from a business to their supplier. It is that relationship of supplier and client that can make this topic so difficult to navigate. The concept of being able to challenge each other is the key to a healthy partnership but this can so often be at conflict with the need to please a client and deliver results. Such a mature approach to their relationship with their suppliers will hopefully set a new benchmark for the sector.

Transformative aftercare

The first solution that the recruitment industry is asked to solve is making sure a business has a healthy diverse pipeline and rightly so. We are often the gatekeepers for talent and their access to hiring managers however businesses can hire all the diverse talent they want but if they don’t have the cultural shift alongside this they will not be able to retain this diverse talent?

This is where I think recruitment agencies can offer a solution to a question no one often comes to us with. The relationships that recruiters build with their candidates are unique. As a candidate, you trust recruiters with your career and that relationship is built on honesty. It can be this relationship and with candidate and hiring manager that should go past the hiring process and into a supportive role making sure candidates become fully embedded in the company and can thrive.

These are big challenges that businesses are facing but there are unique solutions that the recruitment industry can offer. A real partnership and the ability to challenge could be the key to finally making real strides within the diversity agenda.