This isn’t about tokenism, quotas, or box-ticking. Our starting point is simple: diversity is a good thing. It’s a source of strength. It’s something organisations should be prepared to fight for.
By drawing on the widest possible range of experiences and talents, diverse organisations are able to make better decisions, and typically have fewer strategic blind-spots. That makes diverse organisations ultimately more stable and more successful.
If diversity is an end worth striving for, then equality of opportunity is the means through which we pursue it. Search firms need practical, grounded ways of freeing their processes from artificial barriers, prejudices or preferences. It’s not about treating everyone like they’re the same and ignoring that some candidates might be better qualified than others. It’s just about fairness and providing a genuinely level playing field.
A concern for ensuring candidate diversity should be a fundamental part of any good recruitment firm’s standard methodology. Here are some of the practical, concrete steps that we take in order to ensure that we deliver diversity for our clients:
- we encourage clients to think not just about individual appointments, but about the spread of skills and background across their senior team and their Board;
- we proactively put diversity on the agenda and prompt our clients to discuss their diversity issues with us candidly at the briefing stage, so that we can understand their priorities, their aspirations, and where they may have experienced obstacles in the past;
- we ensure that the Candidate Packs and advertisements we draft for our clients focus on underlying skills, competencies, capabilities and values, rather than simply on experience, so that people with less conventional backgrounds won’t automatically rule themselves out;
- we continually challenge our researchers and our consultants to find creative ways of expanding the talent pool they’re looking at;
- where possible, we get actively engaged with bodies or initiatives that promote diversity and equality of opportunity, such as the ‘Ban the Box’ campaign;
- when presenting our longlists, we always look to ensure that at least 30% of the candidates are women and we are happy to provide monitoring data on other Protected Characteristics;
- we’re unafraid of pushing back and advocating for less conventional candidates if we believe they should be given ‘the benefit of the doubt’;
- we look to support and help prepare potentially exciting candidates with less experience of formal recruitment processes;
- as the client begins assessing candidates, we encourage them to refer back to the agreed criteria in the Candidate Pack, so that other subjective considerations aren’t allowed to take over;
- we advise our clients on how to structure their interview processes so that they minimise the scope for unconscious bias;
- we are always happy to provide advice to our client on the best way of on-boarding appointed candidates.
Training on these issues plays a key part in our induction processes for new colleagues, and we have clear internal policies about how these considerations should shape the behaviour as individuals and as a team, as well as the actions of Society itself as an employer. We review our overall Diversity and Equal Opportunities strategy annually through looking at training materials and undertaking refresher sessions with colleagues across the business to ensure everyone is kept abreast of policy developments. From time-to-time we even undertake bespoke assignments for our clients with an explicit focus on improving their diversity, such as this example from 2014.
Society is also a signatory of the Voluntary Code of Conduct for Executive Search Firms.