Tailoring student recruitment for diversity & inclusion

Jul 27, 2020 | Attraction & marketing

Emma Miles from RMP Enterprise considers how far UK students believe that diversity and inclusion-friendly recruitment and workplaces lead to more representative companies.

Research among more than 1,600 UK students across 74 universities – commissioned by RMP Enterprise – found that 79% of UK students either agree with or don’t object to companies hosting recruitment events deliberately aimed at women, BAME or undergraduates from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

The vast majority (95%) of students think diversity and inclusion is important in the workplace and 82% are comfortable with employers staging events designed specifically for women. Students with similar views about companies attracting people from lower socio-economic backgrounds totals 81%. However, slightly fewer (74%) are comfortable with similar approaches for students from different ethnic backgrounds.

Institute of Student Employers’ report, Covid-19: impact of the crisis on student recruitment and development, showing that new graduate roles will be cut by 12% this year and internship/placements cut by 40%, could be an opportunity for employers to reach a wider pool of talent and move away from targeted university lists.

We now have to live more digitally and this offers employers the chance to become more accessible and attract the best talent from all walks of life.

Based on our research – co-funded by some of the UK’s largest graduate recruiters including, Bank of America, Citi and Mazars – RMP Enterprise has launched an ‘Open Door’ event to improve how accessible employers are to students from all backgrounds. This digital event, open to all students regardless of their university, degree background, demographic or year group, will provide a way for students from all backgrounds to meet employers virtually and receive resources to support them with their mental health and wellbeing.

Based on our research, here are six ways that employers can attract diverse talent:

  1. Be clear on why you are asking for personal information

Half (48%) of students did not know why employers ask for personal information with 18% of BAME students saying they felt employers used it to see who would not fit in. Eight per cent of students said they had considered changing their names on job applications. With many employers capturing personal information at the first point of engagement or during the application process, it’s important to educate students and be really clear on why companies need this information.

  1. Remove barriers and be flexible

Almost a fifth of students have missed an interview due to work commitments and 15% because of financial constraints. Employers need to remove barriers to entry – such as travel costs or financial loss through taking time off work to attend face-to-face interviews – and increase accessibility through digital events, competitions and virtual assessment centres to ensure nobody is excluded.

  1. Work should align with employee values

Eighty-four per cent of students believe it’s very important to match work to their personal values. White Welsh students value this more than other ethnic groups (90%); however, BAME students follow closely, at 88%. This factor comes third most important for women and men, but with eight percentage points more for women (88%). People with a disability also place it third (84%).

  1. Provide mental health initiatives

Offering mental health initiatives ranks more highly than salary among almost 80% of students overall, whether white or BAME. Four ethnic groups – black African/Caribbean, northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh – each show 100% support for this element of D&I. For people with a disability, this comes joint first.

  1. Salary

Overall, salary is a motivator of high importance during job hunting for 74% of students. By ethnicity, white northern Irish students are most concerned about salary (88%), with 81% of BAME students saying it’s important. By gender, women and men both rank it fourth (74% vs 73% respectively) while it rates similarly for 67% of disabled students.

  1. Being part of a diverse workforce

This is very important for 56% of students overall, with fewer than one-fifth (17%) deeming it of lowest importance. BAME students share this view more strongly than the overall sample, with 65% saying it is important to them. Women put this factor in fifth place at 63%, a figure 23 percentage points higher than men, who place it seventh. For disabled students, this ranks fifth (59%). Companies showcasing their D&I initiatives to potential employees – such as support for mental health and well-being – is an important part of attracting this generation of undergraduates.






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