Finding the right talent is hard. Yet many businesses do themselves no favours by fishing in the same shallow pools, or, in an attempt to make their business more ‘diverse’, focus only on the most obvious 'easy wins' like gender and ethnicity.
Diversity is correlated with better performance, yet a vast pool of work-ready talent are regularly overlooked, which costs not just the business, but society in general.
Creating a truly diverse organisation requires far more than simply getting different people through the door. If they want to be successful, businesses need to be prepared to adjust rigid working practices and open conversations to support progression of the people they already have.
If they’re prepared to do that there are plenty of resources and organisations they can use to help them broaden their search.
People living with chronic illness
There are an estimated 15 million people living with a chronic illness in the UK. Many of these are highly skilled people who want to work, but are often unable to because they require greater flexibility or are unable to commit to conventional working hours.
ASTRiiD - short for Available Skills for Training, Refreshing, Improvement, Innovation and Development - is a charity that works to match these candidates with firms that need roles filled, even on a temporary or occasional basis.
It costs an average of £35,500 a year to house just one of the UK's 92,000 prisoners. A lack of long-term employment opportunities is one of the primary reasons why 64 per cent of prisoners reoffend within one year of being released.
Key4Life is working to reduce that rate by helping former offenders into work. A seven step programme helps prepare candidates for employability, match them with mentors and firms and then provide ongoing support post release.
"The charity helped me see that what I initially saw as an obstacle can be used as an advantage and that through their network of open minded people I would have the chance to positively contribute to society," says Nouh Abukar, who joined compliance solutions firm Impendulo in November 2018 through the scheme.
Impendulo’s founder, Chris James, says that scheme is different from normal recruiters because it focuses on matching candidates to a company based on their character (rather than simply skills) and then works to ensure that both "benefit greatly from each other."
There are 7.6 million working age people with disabilities in the UK, yet the disability employment gap has remained relatively stagnant over the last decade (at around 30 per cent).
The government’s Disability Confident scheme offers tips and guidance on how businesses can become more disability friendly, Disability Jobsite is a recruitment platform that matches disabled job seekers to employers, while Remploy has offered specialist support to companies and candidates since 1944.
The starting point is to open conversations around disability in the workplace, says Yasmin Sheikh, a disability consultant, coach and trainer, then focus on solutions, or adjustments that may need to be made to access this considerable talent pool.
People with "creative superpowers"
When Mark Evans' daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia he says it opened his eyes to the "creative superpowers that people whose brains are wired to see the world differently can bring to a business".
Now Direct Line’s MD of Marketing and Digital is the lead sponsor for the FTSE 100 insurer’s neurodiversity movement and is helping to make the group more inclusive for people with autism and other spectrum disorders.
Direct Line now works with consulting firm Auticon which only recruits people on the autistic spectrum and uses skills-tests to match them to roles.
"This really centres around making reasonable adjustments and introducing assistive technologies," says Evans. "It’s generally understood why it’s important to make reasonable adjustments for people with physical disabilities, but it's no different for people who have other challenges as a result of the way that their brains are wired."
The over 50s
Although few would admit it, ageism persists in the workplace - at least when it comes to recruiting new starters. There are an estimated one million British people aged between 50 and 64 who are 'involuntarily workless', according to Business in the Community, and many feel that their experience is overlooked by organisations focusing on attracting ‘millennial’ talent.
"People are just being screened out, long before the organisation gets a chance to consider them," says Steve Anderson, who founded the social enterprise Prime Candidate after his own frustrating employment experience. SkilledPeople and Rest Less are other jobsites for people explicitly over 50.
Image credits: Pixabay