Following last week’s roundtable event, the REC yesterday submitted formal written evidence to the government’s review of employment barriers faced by black and minority ethnic (BME) workers. This is the latest milestone on our ongoing work to promote inclusive recruitment practices across the board and to showcase the positive role that REC members are already playing in this area.
As well as feeding into this high profile review being led by Baroness McGregor-Smith, Chief Executive of Mitie, we recently represented the industry on the DWP’s ‘Disability Confident’ steering group and hosted a Ministerial roundtable at REC HQ on opportunities for older workers. The challenge ahead is to co-ordinate activities around the various strands of the inclusion agenda – race, gender, disability, age, LGBT and broader social mobility. Prime Minister Theresa May has made tackling inequality and boosting life chances for under-represented groups a priority for the new government. This is a huge opportunity for us to showcase the role our industry can play and to suggest ways of galvanising the wider business community around this agenda. The desire is there but the feedback from many employers is that the proliferation of initiatives can lead to confusion and can make it difficult for businesses – especially SMEs – to engage.
What’s to be done?
One way forward is to reframe the debate. Hiring practices that are fully inclusive and provide opportunities for all can be summed up very simply as examples of good recruitment.
So let’s march under that banner to get employers of all sizes and across all sectors to think about how they currently hire and about how they might do things differently. This is at the heart of the REC’s Good Recruitment Campaign so the call to action is very clear: let’s get more of your clients to sign up! The stakes are high and not just for individual businesses who are potentially excluding great talent. The debate around inclusion goes to the heart of how our society perceives the role of business. According to a CBI survey, which formed part of their ‘Great Business Debate’, only 32% of people in this country think that the majority of businesses behave ethically and only 53% believe that business makes a positive contribution to society. Inclusive recruitment practices can play an important role in shifting perceptions and is key to achieving the government’s vision for a more equal society.
During last week’s BME roundtable, Baroness McGregor Smith recognised the role that the recruitment sector can play by working with clients and candidates to make change happen. It was good to hear. We will continue to foster this partnership approach through the Good Recruitment Campaign and to work with policy makers to build the best – and most inclusive – jobs market in the world.