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A quarter of employers 'make no effort' to recruit diverse candidates for top-level jobs

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
Back view of female job applicant make good first impression at work interview in office, millennial woman candidate talk, impress HR managers or recruiters at hiring. Employment concept
Fewer than a quarter (23%) of the 660 employers polled go beyond basic legislative requirements with regards to recruitment. Photo: Getty

Nearly a quarter of employers (24%) make no effort to attract and recruit more diverse candidates for top-level jobs, despite some successes with improving diversity lower down the ranks, according to a survey.

CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, and resourcing specialist Omni poll found fewer than a quarter (23%) of the 660 employers surveyed go beyond basic legislative requirements on protected characteristics with regards to their recruitment and selection processes.

The Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey 2020 report suggests employers could have made more progress.

It found only 37% of employers monitor their recruitment to obtain data on protected characteristics. Alongside this just 27% remove certain biographical details from initial selection process.

A third said they ensure they have a diverse interview panel or hiring team, while nearly a quarter (23%) check recruitment tests used are valid, reliable and objective.

Both the CIPD and Omni are calling on organisations to be more strategic about attracting and recruiting diverse candidates to fill senior roles – and also to broaden their outreach.

They also suggest employers consider targeting their recruitment strategies to include people with characteristics that are under-represented in these roles.

Claire McCartney, senior resourcing and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said: “The findings of this report suggest that improvements in workforce diversity have happened by accident rather than design.

“It’s particularly disappointing to find that a quarter of organisations are not doing anything to improve boardroom diversity. Not only is this where the problem is most acute, as the Parker Review and other research shows, but achieving change here would have maximum impact.”

READ MORE: Firms told they can't 'recruit their way out of a diversity problem'

McCartney says that employers cannot expect to make meaningful changes through a “leave-it-and-see policy,” and that improving diversity needs to be actively worked on.

“With many companies understandably focusing on dealing with the economic fallout from the Covid pandemic, it’s important that improving diversity is a priority throughout and beyond the pandemic,” she said.

Recommendations in the report include critically evaluating organisational brands to see how attractive they are to diverse candidates. Other changes that could be made include committing to develop programmes, such as career returners and mid-career change, to help broaden talent pools and people’s skills.

CIPD suggests that organisations should ask questions about what is critical to each position. People from different industries or backgrounds may have transferable skills and knowledge, and can bring fresh insight.

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