The area of diversity is rightly raising its profile on the agenda of employers as they look to make their workforce more aligned to their clients’ populations.

They are also realising that by always bringing in new employees in the image of their existing headcount, they are missing out on a network of high potential candidates. However how should we as recruiters support this - should there be quota's on short-lists? Should we promote candidates from a particular gender/ ethnicity or with a disability?

We spoke to Anne Tynan for more detail on what would make a difference.  Three years ago, Anne carried out a study of 300 recruitment websites looking specifically at issues of accessibility, equality and diversity.  Anne's comments focus on how recruiters, from both an in-house and consultancy background, need to take action:

Diversity - Hands“Don't blame employers! Since writing about recruitment websites, I have had wide-ranging feedback but one issue stands out: recruitment agencies should not hide behind the excuse that they are at the mercy of their clients. Employers have told me of instances where they have had to take agencies to task for the discriminatory attitudes and behavior of agency staff. Admittedly, this is more difficult to handle when it happens in reverse because of the client-agency relationship but it is not impossible.

Agencies may feel that they are the inferior partners in relation to clients but even the smallest agencies can access the power, knowledge and expertise of the whole industry. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) has Diversity and Inclusion as a campaigning issue; there are many resources available to members worth exploring. Anne suggests a straight forward approach:

Alice in Wonderland“Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end, then stop.”

This quote from 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' seems to sum up the approach to take. Companies often tell us that as there are so many different aspects to equality and diversity, they never get started with anything because they simply do not know where to start. It all looks like one big tangled mess that is impossible to unravel. So:

  • Begin at the beginning - Look at the people around you in your business; to what extent are they representative of your candidates?
  • Go on till you come to the end - Look at your current candidates; do you know the extent to which their personal characteristics represent a cross-section of the population
  • Then stop - Stop to consider whether there are gaps and if so, why these exist. How could you apply industry expertise to the current state of play in your agency?”
So how do we make these changes in our mindset and, as a recruiter, support our clients' diversity agenda?

Follow Anne's advice and start small. Work on the simple things and make sure we are being inclusive, accessible and open.