Jeff Lovejoy, UK and Ireland Recruitment Manager at FDM Group, who is speaking at the forthcoming Early Career and Development Summit 2017, discusses how FDM embeds diversity and inclusion in its career programmes and organisation.

Diversity, inclusion and social mobility are at the heart of what we do at FDM Group. For us, it isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes business sense. It’s quite simply part of our DNA.

To omit half of the workforce when recruiting means missing out on half of the talent and with the skills gap looming that’s simply no longer an option. Hiring talented people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences improves the diversity of thought, creativity and problem solving with an organisation.

Diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords; in order to attract and retain talent you have to walk the walk and develop a culture that supports diversity both at, and beyond, the recruitment stage.

Today’s graduates are very aware of the types of organisations for which they want to work. Key is an organisation that shares their values. Diversity and inclusion are among most millennials values, however, according to PwC research, over half of millennials do not feel that opportunities are equal for all despite the fact that companies talk about diversity. All employers need to address this if they are going to be able to continue to attract the talent they want and need.

At FDM Group we work hard to do this. Our culture is instilled and driven from the very top. We have embedded policies that help us ensure that we recruit with diversity in mind. We focus on recruiting based on an individual’s potential, regardless of gender, ethnicity or social background. Through this approach we’ve achieved above the national average for women in tech; 26% of our employees are women and circa 50% of the senior management team is female.

To help us achieve this, our recruitment team has had training in unconscious bias so that they are aware of their own potential biases. Recently, we also started to use game based tests in our assessment centres as a way to help us identify potential candidates and help us continue to recruit as diversely as possible. Using game technology to determine someone’s natural personality traits creates results which can then be matched against the known criteria for the role to help make the best fit. Our game-based assessments, provided and created by Arctic Shores, are based on scientific psychometric measures and collect over 3000 data points that provide a detailed picture of a person’s aptitude and capability for a role. Using data in this way helps remove the element of unconscious bias from recruitment; after all, data is blind to bias.

We also moved to using strengths based questions at interviews instead of competency based ones. This helps remove the bias of social capital that can help some candidates. In addition we ensure we keep our recruitment opportunities open to as large a talent pool as possible by working with a wide range of universities.

In addition to embedding policies and training, it’s also important to be aware of some of the wider thinking around recruitment. For example, we need to be aware that women are more likely to self-select out of an opportunity if they don’t feel they fulfil all of the criteria, whereas men will apply if they meet just a few of the criteria. Traditionally this is attributed to a lack of confidence in women, however, some reports suggest that it could be because women are more likely to follow the perceived rules, don’t want to waste time, and don’t want to fail. We can address some of these issues by making the hiring criteria as transparent as possible, holding open days and getting to know candidates before presenting them with tests etc.

A McKinsey report found that men are often hired or promoted based on their potential, women for their experience and track record. This brings us back to our core approach; recruitment should be based on talent and potential for everyone and then diversity follows.

Once you’ve started to build a diverse and inclusive team, it’s vital to continue with a culture that supports it. People need to see what they can be from the moment they join your company. They can then aspire to progress through the management structure, secure in the knowledge that the organisation is interested in developing their individual talent.

At FDM Group, we host Advantage sessions to give our Consultants the opportunities to hear from influential and inspiring people who are like them, we run a mentoring scheme which is open to all and we work with our clients to ensure that they understand our commitment to diversity and this in turn sees us helping them create greater diversity within their teams.

In developing a culture that supports diversity, social mobility and inclusion, we have learned that if you measure and monitor, you can take proactive steps to understand where the issues lie and devise strategies to develop a culture that supports and improves gender parity. We also regularly publish our monitoring information on our website and in our literature. Recently, we opted to become an early adopter of the Government’s Gender Pay Gap reporting process. We reported an average gender pay gap of 6% and a median pay gap of 0% compared to the UK average of 18.1%.

Gender pay gap reporting requires employers with 250 or more employees to publish statutory calculations every year showing how large the pay gap is between their male and female employees. Companies have until April 2018 to report their figures. In 2016, a report from McKinsey & Co showed that eliminating work-related gender pay gaps could add £150bn to annual UK GDP by 2025 through enhanced productivity and business reputation.

Diversity, inclusion and social mobility bring incredible talent into an organisation; they should not be a bolt on tick box exercise or a nice to have; they are a very real and key element of any business’s success.

To hear Jeff Lovejoy and a range of other leading early careers professionals speak at our popular early careers event in July, find out more about our programme and tickets here.