I have just begun reading a book, given to me by a dear friend, that tells the heroic story of a group of women who flew Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancasters to the frontline during World War II.
To quote the synopsis, “Although not allowed into combat [these women] provided a vital link for the RAF, and flew unarmed, without radios or instruments, at the mercy of the weather and long-range enemy aircraft, to deliver planes to the male pilots who would fly them into battle”. Now this is a story that could’ve spiced GSCE History lessons up. I must admit to feeling a bit ashamed I have not learnt about these courageous women sooner. My Great Grandad was a Gunner during the war so I’ve always thought I was pretty clued up, but apparently not…
This amazing story, amongst other things, has got me thinking about diversity in the work place, and how as a Recruiter, I can do my bit to encourage diversity as a means to improving the overall recruiting and hiring process for all candidates as well as my clients.
Let’s be honest, this is a topic that we’ve all heard lots about, and we have come a long way to creating equal opportunities in the work place, but I believe that there is more that can be done and that in doing so, we are able build more productive and dynamic teams that will produce better results for businesses.
In the UK citizens have a legal right to be considered for opportunities regardless of a number of factors including their gender, race, nationality, age, disability, or sexual orientation. We have some amazing and inspirational people throughout history to thank for this. Unlike in 1949, women are now able to fly in the RAF alongside men, but still only about 15% of RAF officers are female. This is not because females are less able to the job. Years ago, it would’ve been nearly impossible to imagine that a woman could fly a plane into battle. Of course, as I am reading at the minute, they did fly, despite being less celebrated than their male counterparts. In more recent years, the Armed Forces have worked to bring about a change in their culture to try and tackle this imbalance as well as others relating to equal opportunities, with a view to seeing increased applications from different demographics.
In recruitment, we look for candidates who seem likely to fit in well with our clients’ cultures and organisations. I write with complete sincerity when I say that there is nothing like the feeling of finding a candidate who is perfect for a client, and vice versa. The grey area here though, is that in having a view of the ‘ideal candidate’ we open ourselves up to bypassing amazing talent who may be, in some way, different from this view, but an equally good ‘fit’ for the company. I have always tried to actively engage with candidates who may at first glance be overlooked. Inevitably this means spending more time reading through CVs and more time telephone interviewing, but in my view, this is absolutely worth doing because I am operating with integrity, to the best of my ability to source every possible candidate who has something special to bring.
One of the things I love about recruitment is that no candidate is really the same and I think this is something to be embraced and celebrated. In fact, my job might be quite dull if not for diversity!
I had a vacancy at interview last week and prior to this met with the Hiring Manager to discuss shortlisted CVs, interview brief, and what each candidate could bring to this particular position. All of the candidates shortlisted were of an excellent calibre, although from massively varied backgrounds and each with their own USPs and different styles of working. The interviews went brilliantly. Actually, I was initially recruiting for one position, but out of the five candidates that where interviewed we are now looking at three possible offers for three different roles, with another candidate being kept in mind for a real opportunity that is foreseen to be coming ‘down the line’ in the near future. Do I think we would have had this result if we weren’t open to diversity in recruiting? Not at all.
Stacey Gordon, a Diversity and Inclusion Career Strategist, claims companies that have a diverse workforce outperform industry norms by an average of 35%. She says, “creating an inclusive environment supports positive relationships [in the workplace] and fosters communication. Happy employees work harder, smarter and stay longer…” which in turn reduces recruitment, on-boarding and new starter training expenses. So, a shift in attitude when it comes to your company values, culture and hiring strategies should be a no brainer, right?
I hope that this article may act as some food for thought to help you challenge any natural biases that may arise next time you are recruiting. If you are struggling with your biases though, Purple HR offer a range of brilliant Recruitment solutions at fab rates, and can take care of all that for you!