As anyone working in recruitment or HR will know, DE&I (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) is quite rightly a hot topic of conversation at the moment. Putting aside the reasons why this is the case, not to mention the disappointing fact that it’s taken until 2020 to start having this conversation in any meaningful manner, we can all agree that this is long overdue and something we need to start getting right.
As a specialist recruiter in the IT industry, Church International Ltd are only too aware of the lack of diversity within the industry. Whilst it’s a generally acknowledged fact that the number of men working in the sector outweighs the number of women, the sobering reality is that in 2019 women made up just 16.4% of the workforce. Not only is this 1% less than the previous year, but it’s only increased by 2% since 2009.
In October 2018, Church International Ltd created the Kent HR & Talent Network. This is a forum which allowed HR and recruitment professionals to come together at regular intervals (more recently via Zoom calls) to discuss and share ideas around the challenges that we collectively face, in the spirit of collaboration and sharing best practice. By popular demand it was agreed that we devote the entirety of our most recent discussion to this important subject. After a wide-ranging discussion, with contributions from participants from a diverse variety of sectors – many of them traditionally male-dominated, it was heartening that we were able to agree some basic concepts that will allow us start to do our bit to reverse this trend:
Recruit from the graduate talent pool…
With schools and universities making great progress in recent years in attracting young women to choose STEM specialist subjects, each new graduate pool will provide a greater diversity of candidates. Investing in junior talent, where possible, from this pool inevitably increases access to a wider range of candidates as well as opening up the very real possibility of recruiting a future tech leader/disrupter before your competitor finds and recruits them.
Instigate a gender-neutral recruitment process…
The introduction of a few simple changes could significantly aid your efforts to attract more female applicants, such as using gender neutral language on job descriptions and adverts. Studies have shown that male-orientated language can actively dissuade women from applying for jobs. In fact research conducted by Linkedin revealed that in order to apply for a job, women feel they need to meet 100% of the criteria, while men usually apply after meeting approximately 60%.
Implement female-focused workplace benefits…
Whilst ensuring that equal and fair salaries is an absolute minimum, the importance of the wider benefits package shouldn’t be overlooked. Friday-beers and an office ping pong table may be attractive to a certain cross-section of society but for others these hold no appeal whatsoever. Efforts should be made to cater to those with a wide range of priorities. Whilst this naturally applies to both men and women, there are some things that are more likely to appeal to women and make them choose to share their skills and expertise with your company over your competitors. Review your benefits package and ask yourself if you can offer anything more that would specifically appeal to a more diverse pool of candidates.
These are just some ideas but know there are more. Can you suggest any?
Whilst our small group of likeminded HR and recruitment professionals don’t claim to have re-invented the wheel or to have solved this problem, the small steps we’ve each committed to take as a result of our discussion on this topic will make a difference and we are proud to be doing our bit to tackle this issue.
We’ve already benefitted from being part of such a group and the feedback from our fellow Forum members confirms they have too. If you feel that either you or your company would benefit from being part of an informal, professional support group then we invite you to join us. The Kent HR & Talent Network meets quarterly virtually via a Zoom call, to discuss the challenges you are facing and collaborate on solutions. We’ve already helped each other immeasurably on a number of subjects and during our next meeting we’ll be discussing how we can support each other with re-integrating staff who are returning after a period on furlough.
To join, please contact Karl Henneker on firstname.lastname@example.org
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