Diversity - Translating acceptance into impact

As clearly shown by the UK gender pay gap report and the Hampton-Alexander Review, there remains fundamental progress still to be made on enabling diversity.

More optimistically, there has never been a wider acceptance of the value of diversity. Latest research from McKinsey & Co. finds that ‘companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians, with the opposite proving true also’. A google search will show multiple other similar reports.

The challenge for many companies is in translating this acceptance to tangible impact on achieving a diverse leadership team and workforce. As signatories of the Tech Talent Charter, we strive to strengthen our own diversity, whilst working with our customers on changes to their approaches that optimise attracting and retaining diverse talent.

Against a backdrop of almost zero unemployment, a talent shortage, and for the UK, Brexit impacting the country’s appeal to EU candidates, hiring is as challenging now as I can recall in 20 years of recruiting for the technology sector. A sector which welcomes news members with every digital transformation of previously non-tech industries.

Reactive, ad hoc recruitment cycles are increasingly proving ineffective against the speed and demands of the market. There are stark statistics highlighting the limitations of a reactive recruitment model – According to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends report, the average job tenure is 4.5 years. An external search can be expected to produce a shortlist in four to six weeks. In approximately 10% of one year, then, a search is expected to secure a minority industry demographic at a time when they are ready to move roles. This is before the candidate has even considered other key aspects of employer value proposition such as culture and ongoing development.

 Proactive engagement

Simply moving from a reactive to proactive model can be one of the most fundamental and impactful changes a business can make. Compare a window opened to the market for only one month in any given period with the pressure to hire asap, to a window opened over multiple quarters or even continuously, ahead of demand. Identifying areas of inevitable demand and expected growth enables an organisation to proactively engage the market and create talent security against critical positions and future need.

Proactive, dedicated analysis of the market identifies the key target talent and begins the longer-term engagement that has far-reaching benefits – Quality of hire is improved through a deeper mutual understanding between candidates and potential employer. Brand value is increased through the representation of the company as a diverse employer of choice, and growth strategies are further informed enabling the ability to adapt plans based on the availability of talent.

Business models are changing. So too must the recruitment models that support it.

I say simply as it’s easy to empathise how day to day priorities become a distraction to implementing best practice. Having led recruitment functions for global technology companies, I understand how unfair a fight it can be between immediate fires and longer-term planning. Forecasting of needs is also notoriously difficult, and rare to the point of mythical. It is Bigfoot walking around Loch Ness. But, degrees of planning for predicted inevitable demand or against critical positions is feasible, and essential if companies are to find competitive advantage through truly prioritising talent and diversity. Reactivity simply won’t deliver sufficient results.

David Winch – Managing Director, Miramar Talent

Click here to read David’s full commentary.