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International Women's Day - recruiters can lead the way on diversity and inclusion
International Women's Day - recruiters can lead the way on diversity and inclusion
REC View & Campaigns 09th Mar 2018

Yesterday was International Women’s Day – a day designed to both celebrate the progress we’ve made but also raise awareness of the situation of women around the world. I was pleased to speak at a great event to celebrate International Women’s Day, held by Omni Management at London Zoo, about how recruiters can lead the way on diversity and inclusion.

There are more women in the UK workforce than ever before – however, there is still a disparity between women and men at work. For instance only four per cent of FTSE 350 CEOs are women. The Chartered Institute of Management has said that the UK needs 1.9 million new managers – of which 1.5 would need to be women – to achieve equal numbers of men and women in management.

Increasing the diversity within companies is not just the right thing to do for our society – it also makes business sense. Businesses have been shown to perform better when they draw on a diverse workforce with a wide range of expertise – they are more innovative and bring in more revenue. In the UK, the tightening labour market and falling candidate availability make reaching more diverse candidate pools even more critical.

Recruiters and HR managers are uniquely placed to promote this business case for diversity  and guide employers on how to attract and retain talent, as well as offer support to a diverse range of candidates. And now is a good time to do so. The pressure is growing on companies to make progress in this area, particularly as companies with 250+ employees will have to report on their gender pay gap annually. A CBI report out yesterday showed that two thirds of their members would be taking action as a result of this gender pay gap reporting.

Recruitment best practice is constantly evolving. Recruiters can help companies think about how they hire and if they are giving themselves the best opportunities to attract diverse talent. Small changes in the recruitment process can help make a positive difference.

Recruiters have a key role in prompting business to think about the following questions:

  • Are you attracting women through the door? If not, why not? In the first instance, make sure you are designing a job that appeals to a diverse candidate pool from the outset. Can you advertise the role flexibly?
  • What is the advert saying to candidates? Have you checked the language used in the advert is gender neutral?
  • Are you actively reducing unconscious bias in the process? It’s human to feel more of an affinity to people who are similar to us, but recruiting in your own image poses challenges in the recruitment process. Name blind and context blind recruitment remove a candidate’s identity, such as their name, age and educational institution.
  • Do you have standardised questions for candidates during the interview process? How diverse is your recruitment panel?
  • Where are you sourcing your candidates? Are there other places you could advertise?
  • Candidates judge companies too. What does the culture and current make-up of management say to candidates? Are you explicit about your gender and diversity goals?

We need to reframe the debate. This shouldn’t be a matter of ‘recruiting for gender equality’ or ‘diversity aware recruitment’, it’s about good recruitment. Practicing good recruitment ensures you and your clients won’t fall behind competitor organisations who recognise the benefits to business of diversity and inclusion.

This year we’re proud to be working with the All Party Parliamentary Group for women and work as they explore ‘how to recruit women for the 21st century”. We’re keen to hear from members on what you’re doing on diversity and inclusion to feed into this work. Please contact


Sophie Wingfield - Senior Public Affairs Consultant at the REC
View More articles by Sophie Wingfield >

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