In the run up to the RPO and e-Recruitment Summit taking place in London on 20th September 2012, we caught up one of the speakers – Jo Taylor Head of Resourcing and Talent Management, TalkTalk to find out what she’ll be presenting on.

After less than a year at TalkTalk, Jo Taylor has already started plenty of conversations about sustainable ways to engage and attract and retain diverse talent. She’s at the start of an exciting journey to take the organization’s talent management strategy from good to outstanding. One of her key focuses in the year ahead is what she calls the ‘democratization of talent’. Here, she explains what it means, why it’s important and how she plans to keep the focus on employer brand and the customer experience to engage talent early.

Why should businesses focus on talent?

Whether you’re in telecoms, technology, FMCG or the private or public sector, the war for diverse talent is more acute at the moment. This means that what your brand says about you has to appeal to a broader range of talent in the market.

Whether you have an RPO or you do it yourself, different people will be attracted to your business for very different reasons, so it’s about thinking what those reasons are. The key challenges today are around how to communicate your employer value proposition to the multi-generational workforce. You need to make your recruitment tools flexible to articulate these reasons to different people in multi-faceted ways, through multimedia.

What should companies competing for talent seek to know about their competitors?

To communicate effectively to a broad market, you need to understand what your competitive advantage is to all these different people. This means setting yourself apart from your competitors. To do this, you need to clearly understand what your value proposition is—and this is likely to vary considerably depending on the type of talent you’re trying to engage. Then, you need to ask yourself if you are articulating it clearly—again, across multimedia and in multi-faceted ways. If not, you need to sit down and seriously consider how open are you to change.

What does your customer base have to do with your potential talent pool and your Employer Brand?

Having a strategy around what your product is saying to your customers, and how your customer base could be part of your talent base, is key.

At TalkTalk, we’re a family-oriented brand. Parents are linked into us, but we also have relationships with schools, charities and the community. We know that our customers start to become familiar with our products from a very early age. So, our vision is to make it everyone’s responsibility at all levels of our company—not just one area of the business—to engage with our customer base across the community. This helps us engage the broadest possible talent pool on an ongoing basis. For example, one of our senior people is a governor of a school and he helped to build some of the IT curriculum. Our presence is felt in that academy because we’ve done something that they really needed assistance with, and we had the relevant expertise to help.

What about internal talent? How do you develop it and access it?

Global market forces have changed the talent landscape too. We have an outsourced partner model and we are now thinking about how to more effectively utilize global talent, knowledge and experience.

For example, we like to support our people by offering multiple opportunities for them to move around our business to enhance their careers. However we also understand the importance of treating people as individuals and recognize that relocating can be a huge upheaval for their family so it’s definitely not an option for everyone.

I believe part of a successful talent management and engagement strategy for companies today is contingent upon the democratization of talent. You need to look at people’s motivations first and foremost. Everyone’s an individual and they’re driven by different things, so understanding these differences is crucial to harnessing each person’s potential. Part of this is about going back to basics and asking, “What does development really mean?” It doesn’t just mean booking yourself on a course. It’s about getting people to take responsibility for their own learning, but it’s also about thinking of new ways to share and leverage the diverse knowledge and experience that global organizations have access to.