Achieving gender balance in early careers recruitment

By Sahana Kasaru

We’ve recently been promoting our graduate, summer intern and industrial placement roles at virtual campus events, making an extraordinary number of hires. One of the things we’re proudest of this year is our gender balance – so far, our early careers intake has been 48 per cent women and 52 per cent men.

Below, we share some of the lessons we’ve learned about attracting such diverse talent.

Creating an inclusive process to attract diverse talent

Early careers recruitment plays a huge part in creating an inclusive and diverse workplace – without nurturing young diverse talent today, we’ll struggle to find experienced leaders who truly represent society tomorrow. That’s why we’re constantly striving to make our recruitment process more inclusive for all. This is an area where things are constantly changing, and we’re constantly learning. But based on our experiences, there are five key things to bear in mind when looking to diversify early careers recruitment:

1. Focus on competencies rather than credentials

A critical part of ensuring a diverse and inclusive recruitment process is to question what factors you value in a candidate, prioritising competencies over credentials. For example, we removed the requirement for our graduates to have attained a 2:1 at university as it enables us to focus on skills that are valuable in the role, rather than pure academic achievements.

2. Use gender neutral language

A great way to attract diverse candidates is to revamp job adverts and change the language used to ensure you speak to a wider range of people. We’ve found gendered key words can deter people from applying to roles, so we focus on using gender neutral language in job ads.

3. Have a diverse recruitment team

Diversity in recruitment teams drives diversity in hiring. When those representing the organisation at career fairs are diverse, you’ll naturally attract more diverse applicants. And when graduate assessment panels are diverse, you’ll mitigate any unconscious bias that could unintentionally exclude great candidates. So, we ensure we have people with a range of experiences, personalities and backgrounds contributing to the decision-making process.

4. Develop inclusion and diversity partnerships

Establishing partnerships with organisations striving to build a more inclusive world helps shape strategies and reach diverse talent. For example, we’ve partnered with Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) London to engage and attract talented students from ethnic minority or low socioeconomic backgrounds. With their support, we were able to run targeted workshops around how to approach an application and assessment centre, and what employers are looking for, to ensure young people who often don’t see opportunities can fulfil their potential.

5. Reach out to diverse talent

One way to target underrepresented candidates from a variety of places is through targeted presentations with society groups and universities, such as Women in Business or Women in Engineering. You can also reach out to diverse talent directly by targeting mailers to specific student groups, such women studying tech.

We can make early careers recruitment more diverse

As organisations continue to build more inclusive and diverse workforces, it’s crucial for early careers recruitment to play an active role in challenging unconscious bias. By focusing on these five actions, we can ensure inclusion and diversity are at the forefront of hiring.

About the authors

Sahana Kasaru PA digital expert

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