Diverse office group brainstorming with flip-board

How to attract top talent through diversity

The battle for top talent.

For a business to remain competitive, it is essential to acquire and keep the best people. The challenges of talent attraction in the STEM industry are varied, however the competition for talent remains the same.

Skill shortage is a hot topic, especially in a highly skilled industry such as STEM. Although it is estimated that the amount of STEM roles will double over the next 10 years, hiring the required talent can be challenging. The UK Government’s 2017 industry strategy white paper reported that 40% of employers said a shortage of STEM graduates was a key barrier in recruiting appropriate staff. STEM Learning found that, 400 HR directors that rely on staff with STEM skills, experience several hiring problems:

  • 7/10 said it was difficult to hire staff with required skills in 2017.
  • 9/10 said that recruitment is taking 31 days longer than expected.
  • 48% look overseas for the right talent.

On top of this, what people ask from employers is changing. It is no longer enough to pay more than competitors, SRG’s latest Salary Survey shows work/life balance, company culture and interesting projects are playing an increasing role in talent attraction and retention.

Adjustments to the way IR35 legislation is enforced could potentially have an impact on the shape of the workforce and political, economic and socio-economic circumstances change by the day.  Some might say this has added a layer of uncertainty in the market.

Although there is a lot facing the STEM industry, it continues to be a buoyant and resilient market and there are ways to shore up against any uncertainty (and indeed help remain competitive and creative in these market conditions.)

Diversity, the key to top talent?

A McKinsey & Company ‘Diversity Matters’ report analysed data from 366 companies and found a statistically significant correlation between diversity and financial performance. Those companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have higher financial returns than the national median; whilst for those in the top quartile for ethnic diversity, there is a 35% likelihood of having higher returns than the national median.

Increasing diversity, including neurodiversity, within a business offers opportunities to unlock potential within STEM.  Sienna Castellon, an award-winning autism advocate explains “For example, GCHQ employs more than 100 dyslexic and dyspraxic “neurodiverse spies” to harness their ability to decipher facts from patterns, their increased 3D spatial-perception and their creativity.

She goes on to explain “If universities, companies and organisations are going to benefit from having neurodivergent students and employees, it is important to create summer programs and work placements for neurodivergent students that are specifically designed to support autistic students and students with learning differences”.

Companies that commit to diversity are measurably more successful. The benefits do not stop with financial performance. It has been proven that more diverse workplaces have advantages in recruiting top talent, have higher workforce satisfaction and improved decision making.

High diversity improves employee morale and happiness, but inclusion fosters positive behaviors at work. A more diverse workplace that has excellent inclusion improves loyalty.

It is no surprise, therefore, that this topic has been put under the spotlight within HR across the industry in recent times.

So, how can diversity help with STEM recruitment challenges?

Firstly, broadening the recruitment pool simply means more talent to access. Women make up half of the workforce in the UK and USA, the ethnic composition of the UK labour force is around 10%, a 6% increase from 1991, and The Migration Observatory found that approximately 30% of births in the UK were of non-European ancestry in 2011. 20% of working age adults in the UK are deemed to have a disability, these are high percentages to ignore.

Diversity helps close the skill shortage gap. As an example, it is estimated that the UK needs an additional 1.8 million engineers by 2020. Currently only 10 - 12% of engineers are women. This is not because there aren’t available qualified female engineers. STEM Women reports that in 2018 there were 5,050 female engineering graduates in the UK, this is 15% of the total amount of engineering grads. This was up 570 from the year before.

Engineering UK’s 2018 report showed 28% of students in an engineering-related first-degree courses and 69% students in postgraduate taught courses were not from the UK.

How a dedicated recruitment partner can offer the solution:

Talent sourcing, processing and hiring can be a detailed process. Making sure that the right people with the right skills and that the talent selection includes a fully diverse make-up, can make the recruitment process quite complex. Having a specialist, dedicated recruitment partner allows resources and time to be used more effectively.

A good recruitment partner will use their expertise to find the best talent, both through role specifications and personality/culture fit. A great recruitment partner will help you meet your business needs through talent mapping and solutions. It is helpful before engaging with any recruitment agency that you know what you are wanting to achieve.

  • Plan and map your business needs prior to engaging with a recruitment partner.
  • How on-side are your senior team?
  • Is there a programme of inclusion within your business? Hiring people from diverse backgrounds does not ensure that you retain them, the culture needs to be inclusive.
  • When engaging a recruitment partner ask about their processes in relation to sourcing the best candidates. A good agency will take on board all of your needs and consult with you on the best ways to achieve this.
  • Reach Early Talent sooner and engage your recruitment partner to help with Summer internships ensuring you reach out to a diverse student community.

Most people have a go to system when looking for new people to join their team. Generally, this system is tried and tested and successful. The system may work; however, it tends to mean the same types of people are usually recruited into the business. Using a recruitment partner and asking them to produce a diverse list of eligible candidates from a variety of backgrounds, countries, ethnicity, disability and neurodiversity opens the types of people you can access.                                                                                                   

SRG regularly reports on diversity during quarterly business reviews with clients. We run an Early Talent programme, including Industrial Placements and Summer internships based on strong foundations with Universities and their communities.

To really understand how to implement the latest best practice in Diversity and Inclusion programmes, download our Diversity and Inclusivity guide.

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