It’s now universally recognised that creating a diverse culture within your company isn’t just the right thing to do - it’s the secret to staying competitive for the long-term. There is huge value in having a variety of outlooks within your business, which can increase creativity and boost innovation.
Our recent Graduate Employer Priorities 2023 report showed that 97 per cent of graduate employers see recruiting a diverse workforce as a top priority over the next year. And looking further ahead, our Careers2032 report found that more than two-thirds of graduate employers feel that attracting top talent with equality initiatives in mind is likely to be among their most important objectives in the decade ahead.
So how do employers ensure a more diverse and inclusive graduate intake? We believe that it starts with the hiring process, and that companies must be committed to finding a mix of talent from diverse sources.
The first pressing issue for employers to tackle is ensuring that as many people as possible, from as many backgrounds as possible, have access to your job opportunities.
But with squeezed budgets, it can be difficult for smaller employers in particular to proactively engage with multiple institutions using mechanisms like in-person careers fairs or ‘milkrounds’. Many employers are now using virtual mechanisms – harnessing tech platforms to reach more people, from a wider range of universities, throughout the academic year.
But even then, we know that some undergraduate students don’t have the technology required to access careers services or job opportunities since the world moved online during the pandemic.
This is something the industry is working hard to address – ensuring that recruitment tools are mobile optimised, for students that don’t have consistent access to a desktop or laptop. And some employers are taking this further, supporting universities with the provision of the digital tools needed to interact with employers and engage with opportunities, including mobile devices and laptops if required.
Once you’ve reached candidates, the next stage is to proactively guard against bias. A third of today’s students and grads believe that job applications and interviews are biased towards people who have existing connections, while 15 per cent feel excluded from job opportunities due to their background.
With the risk of hefty fines and significant reputational damage if companies are found to have discriminatory practices, it’s little surprise that many organisations are prioritising providing staff with training on the topic.
Diversity and equality remains important in graduate recruitment, but also beyond the hiring process. Employers will need to focus on building an inclusive culture which keeps employees feeling engaged, motivated and loyal.
With the overwhelming majority of businesses (71 per cent) telling us that they are concerned by employee retention and loyalty, this is likely to be the next big hurdle to overcome in the battle to build and benefit from a more diverse workforce.
However, with 37 per cent of graduate employers increasing their hiring levels due to company growth, there is a positive outlook and a lot can be done to build a sustainable and inclusive workforce. Over the next twelve months and beyond, hiring managers will be looking at how technology can help them, and we believe platforms like Handshake can play a key role in connecting the right candidate with the right role, regardless of their background or connections.
Handshake combines a sophisticated career management platform with a networked architecture. The results speak for themselves, Handshake’s community includes 1,400 institutions, 650k+ employers and 21 million students and young alumni around the world.