The importance of attracting diverse talent


By Jayne Hughes

When it comes to recruitment, ensuring equality of opportunity for all, through robust diversity and inclusion initiatives has always been important. And, so it should be. After all, as we know, talent is talent, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. And we should all aim to attract the very best talent around.

It sounds straightforward enough. But of course, things aren’t always this clear cut.

For example, it’s one thing for an organisation to want to attract everyone equally. But quite another if that organisation discovers that, consciously or unconsciously, certain chunks of its target audience aren’t engaging with them. That swathes of potential suitable candidates are experiencing a disconnect with what they believe the organisation stands for and, as a result, perceiving any cultural or career match there to just not be right for them.

But what’s wrong with ‘cookie-cutter’ recruitment? Does it really matter if the same ‘type’ of people are continually recruited into an organisation? Well, in a word ‘yes!’. And it’s not about hitting some politically correct target or ticking a few politically correct boxes. It’s more about the fact that if you constantly recruit a particular ‘type’ of person, then pretty soon your business will fail to connect with anyone else.

To grow at pace with the world, you need to adapt, change, evolve and reflect changing society and technology. So, age, gender, ethnic and sexual equality at work should be as relevant and evident as it is in life. And, attracting talent from a diverse cross section of society is therefore essential for continued business growth, relevance and success.

The most successful organisations are diverse ones. And that’s not only based on productivity, but on the experience that people have when they’re working with and learning from people who have different backgrounds, life experiences and viewpoints. Our working lives, and indeed our lives in general, are enriched when we’re exposed to ways of thinking and working that are different to our own.

We’ve worked on some fantastic projects that have had this ethos as a central objective. Whether that’s encouraging people from a range of social and ethnic backgrounds to see that a ‘Big Four’ organisation like Deloitte can provide a welcoming and supportive place to work and develop, to getting ‘out on the tools’ to showcase the energy, enthusiasm and drive of female engineering apprentices at Cadent Gas, to showing that Co-op’s retail careers for women can go beyond the shop floor, and that the face of management doesn’t have to be male.

All of these projects, and many more, show us that world of work both now and in the future, should always be about bringing together people who have the right skills, attitude and ambition to create places where everyone – from Gen X to Gen Z (and beyond) – can thrive.