More than 250 delegates from the HR and recruitment industries attended this year’s TREC conference, the flagship event of the Good Recruitment Campaign.
Three distinct themes emerged from the various keynote speeches, panel debates and roundtable discussions.
Firstly, it’s clear that the talent community is anxious about disruption created by new technology. The key question is: will AI and machine learning cause mass unemployment, or will the creation of new roles offset the loss of jobs to automation? Johnny Campbell from SocailTalent suggested that “blue or white collar work won’t be destroyed - it’s the routine activity that can be easily automated that will disappear.”
This question was taken up by our Future of jobs panel discussion, chaired by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey MP. Both Jacqueline Field of Vodaphone and Julie Welch from Bunzl explained how their companies are starting to educate and reassure the workforce about changes that are just around the corner. As Neil Morrison said, “we need to invest more than ever before in developing and growing our people so they are prepared for a different tomorrow”.
The second narrative was around how recruiters are adapting to new technology. Kevin Blair of IBM and Jennifer Candee of Mondalez both said that tech was helping them find talent, and Rachael Wilson of Siemens outlined her vision of TA becoming “like the movie Minority Report, with recruitment data being seen in real time on a giant interactive screen, providing managers with great candidate data”.
At the same time, this increasing use of technology must be balanced with making sure that we build relationships with candidates and employees as human beings. This point was driven home by Lucy Adams, our second keynote, and by Google Dave who argued that we must focus on emotion and how people feel: “the more tech we use the more human we need to be.”
The third key theme was the responsibility on hiring managers and recruiters to make diversity and inclusion their priority.
Jo Youle, CEO of Missing People, gave a really inspiring keynote, encouraging those who don’t feel confident to dare themselves to take risks. As managers, we have a responsibility to make sure our people feel confident enough to apply for promotions when they are capable of doing the job.
Jo also made a strong case for getting more people involved with hiring, and for moving away from the traditional 1:1 interview so that candidates have the opportunity to demonstrate skills that are directly applicable to the role.
In my speaking slot, I told delegates two things I’ve heard recently which have resonated. In a recent Good Recruitment Campaign podcast, Neil Morrison said that to lead transformation we need to look at the whole system and identify root causes. Similarly, at this year’s World Employment Conference, Peter Cosgrove said that to improve diversity and inclusion, we need those who would benefit most from status quo to advocate change.
My call is for white men in leadership positions to stop paying lip service or sitting on the side lines on this issue, and to take responsibility for shaping a more inclusive workforce. This means having robust conversations, setting targets and measuring performance on this, as we do with every other important business activity.
It was great to hear Neil Carberry, the REC’s chief exec, talk about the importance of the Good Recruitment Campaign. We have lots of new developments planned and we’re going to be seeking input and ideas across the summer.
A big thanks to Steve Othen who for the last five years has done a wonderful job at growing and developing the GRC. We never thought in 2014 when we launched it that it would become as big and as important as it’s turned out to be. Going forward the campaign will be run by Carol Scott, and if you would like to know more about the GRC please do drop her a line.
TREC will be back next year until then let’s keep promoting good recruitment.