Breaking Barriers around Inclusion with Kier Group

December 15, 2022

Over the last few years organisations have increasingly focused on ensuring that their workforces are reflective of a diverse society. 

This means not only hiring a diverse range of people, but making sure employees feel comfortable to be themselves at work; that there is opportunity for growth and development within the organisation and that company recruitment policies are up to the task.

These are some of the themes that were discussed in our recent webinar on breaking barriers around inclusion and inspiring prospective candidates, with an emphasis on early careers. The webinar was hosted by Kieran Howells, head of content at HR Grapevine, in conversation with Nerida Rooney and Siyanda Mngaza from Kier Group and Emily Knuckey and Diana Duri from Handshake.

Making up ground on inclusion – with Kier Group

Kier Group, the infrastructure and construction company, spoke about its philosophy on diversity and inclusion – built around encouraging people to be more authentic at work and celebrating diversity all year round.

From a recruitment perspective, Kier Group has five inclusion networks – armed forces, race, gender, ability and pride – supported by an inclusion roadmap, which allows them to establish what their focus will be for the next few years. Kier Group’s Making Ground programme also aims to help people who are in or recently out of prison to get a job and they have a partnership which helps refugees in the UK to find work. 

Siyanda Mngaza from Kier Group shared details on how they have been using Handshake to help underpin their strategy and allow them to create a pipeline of students and target graduate talent from a broader cross-section of society, saying: “we’ve met some great candidates through Handshake that we would never have been able to access.”

Reevaluating policies and recruitment models

Participants agreed that it is vital that organisations are constantly reflecting on their DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) policies and adapting them if necessary. The panel was unanimous that the conventional model of recruitment is not conducive to a representative and diverse workforce and companies need to be constantly re-evaluating their recruitment methods.

This is particularly notable when it comes to early talent. Gen Z is the most diverse generation yet and the one most likely to have people who identify as non-binary or third gender. The concept of what it means to have a diverse workforce is changing and to be truly representative of a modern society, organisations need to understand this. 

The starting point is to establish the organisation’s specific DEI goals, define what success looks like from their perspective, and then create and implement a transparent roadmap and plan. With this background, those responsible for hiring early talent can take a closer look at the candidates coming in, ascertain what groups they need to reach out to in order to ensure fair representation and then find ways to do that. The use of technology like Handshake can help with this type of targeting and facilitate connections with underrepresented groups.

Why DEI should be a key focus – for fairness and for prosperity

The panel agreed that fundamentally, as our society continues to become more diverse, it is more important than ever that people are being given ample opportunities to succeed in life regardless of their background.

But the business case for diversity and inclusion is equally strong. The Gen Z cohort are much more conscientious about ensuring the companies they work for are representative of a diverse range of talent. In fact, Handshake’s Network Trends suggest that 53% of student job seekers would not work with an employer that lacks general diversity.

Additionally, according to the McKinsey study Why Diversity Matters, companies in the top quartile for gender-diverse executive suites were 15% more likely to generate above-average profitability compared to the bottom quartile of companies. All this means that companies that aren’t taking diversity seriously enough and applying the best possible solutions will keep falling further behind not just socially, but financially too.

Boosting diversity and inclusion is a multi-faceted process. It requires both a sense of fairness and emotional intelligence among staff. It can be delivered both with social benefit and the bottom line in mind. And increasingly, in order to work, it requires a mix of humanity and the willingness to use data and technology to help target and better understand candidates from a range of backgrounds.

Talk to us about how to improve your diversity, equality and inclusion strategy for early talent recruitment.