Attract Diverse Candidates – what works for others?

attract diverse candidates

In my last blog, I gave the top 10 questions to help you attract diverse candidates. This is especially top of mind because of the Black Lives Matter movement, but of course, it’s been relevant for a long time. Many industries are struggling to get talent and are keen to recruit more widely. Others really see the benefits of being able to understand a much wider range of target groups or tap into a wider range of ideas and experiences.

So, what have these organisations done that works to attract diverse candidates? Below are three examples of what delivers results for others keen to attract diverse candidates.

Attract diverse candidates – Dyson School of Design Engineering

The Dyson School of Design Engineering had almost 50% of women apply in the first year. However, in the second year the percentage dropped significantly. When looking into it they found that it was likely because they had advertised the launch of the institute widely. For example, with articles across newspapers and advertising in magazines and on public transport. The second year they had used more traditional channels such as career fairs. They changed their strategy to advertise more widely again and the numbers of female candidates went up.

Attract diverse candidates – large London organisations

Organisations like ING, Credit Suisse, Prudential, DLA Piper, Barclays, Ernst & Young and Allen & Overy work with the East London Business Alliance (ELBA) to attract underprivileged candidates. ELBA has strong ties with local universities, where most inner-city children attend. ELBA recruit actively using previous candidates as role models. They offer a 6 month paid internship to candidates interested in working in one of the companies participating in the scheme. During the first 2 weeks of the internship, candidates are trained in skills such as Personal Impact, Teamwork, Effective Business Writing and Project Management.

The programme works as it gives candidates the social capital others their age have by virtue of their background. It empowers candidates and provides a network of people like themselves. This gives them the resilience they need to thrive in an environment where they often are the ‘only one’, and most candidates find a job at their employer of choice after the programme.

Attract diverse candidates – Greater Manchester Fire Service

The Greater Manchester Fire Service realised that to attract diverse candidates, you need to go where they are. So they clearly defined their target groups and considered where these people might be. They then attended job fairs in schools, visited mosques and sports schools. They invited those interested to Open Days – that were regularly held – to help potential candidates decide if the fire service would indeed be right for them, and gave them vital information to help them prepare for the selection process. This has lead to an increase in diverse candidates applying.

Tips on Implementation

Of course, diversity doesn’t stop at attraction. Once you have attracted diverse candidates you need to debias your selection process to ensure you actually hire them. Next, you need to provide the right support during onboarding to ensure they feel welcome and most importantly, you need to prepare your staff and instil inclusive behaviours. There’s no point in hiring great talent, only to find they are the first to leave or worse be faced with an expensive lawsuit.

Which programmes do you know that have worked to attract more diverse candidates? I would love to hear about your experiences.

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Author: Inge Woudstra

Would you like to know more or have a question? I am always happy to have a chat to discuss your needs. Why not drop me a line or pick up the phone? Call me at 01372 457 907 or Just contact me to discuss your requirements by e-mail.

I can help you recruit, retain and advance women, and typically work with organisations in tech and engineering.

Or just check out my book 'Be Gender Smart - The Key to Career Success for Women'

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