Secrets of the global talent race

Secrets of the global talent race

Graduates leave the Great Hall after a degree ceremony at Birmingham University UK

By Jane Farrell –

Global talent spotters have their eye on graduates from top universities, especially women. Photograph: Andrew Fox/Alamy

Let’s be clear: in 2013, imbalances of all kinds are still prevalent in the office and the boardroom. Broadening the talent pool or diversifying senior management teams have become the positive action solutions that dare not speak their name. But it’s a modern and pragmatic response to inequality, and one that enables organisations to make a clear business case for equality and diversity.

For one global company that we work with, recruiting the best people is the single most critical business driver, worldwide. If it doesn’t recruit more highly skilled people, it will affect growth; if it is unable to retain talent, it will make a significant impact on the company’s profitability.

This FTSE 250 global company employed EW Groupto find out what its competitors were doing to recruit the best, and to help the company innovate so that it was creating fresh ways to find talent. We researched what other companies are doing in the sector but also in other sectors, analysed the patterns that existed with a particular emphasis on gender, ethnicity and age, and set about helping our client create a detailed strategy for changing its staffing profile over the next three to five years.

This research and planning is what will give the company the competitive edge in its field. A range of initiatives are needed to create lasting change rather than a flash in the pan. In the example of the global company above, we are working with its internal organisational development specialists to overhaul the talent management strategy so that it weaves diversity and inclusion into the design and execution. One element of this will involve building relationships with universities in the UK (and across the globe) which are not only excellent academic institutions but also have high proportions of black and ethnic minority and female students, offering internships that are focused on under-represented groups.

We’ll run refresher training for those involved in recruitment and selection, to ensure they are aware of how unconscious bias might be operating, and we’ll deliver leadership programmes for the top 1,000 managers to ensure they are performance managing in an equitable way. In the longer term, we are working with them to establish relationships with schools, thereby building a pipeline of future talent.

And by fully considering their “employee value proposition” (the new buzz phrase for treating your staff well), this company can be confident that when that future talent enters the business, the pipeline it has carefully built will not become leaky.

We’re operating in lean times: with organisational development and HR budgets stretched, companies are getting smarter about capturing their return on investment for this kind of work. There’s no wooliness when we sit down with clients to evaluate the increase in the advantage to their reputation or the impact that talent development has had on a company’s success when bidding for contracts.

Our interventions are being carefully tracked and evaluated to ensure they result in bottom line benefits. The result is that the business case for all this work can be clearly articulated by staff at all levels, primarily because the benefits to the organisation are utterly clear.

Jane Farrell is chief executive and co-founder of the consultancy and training company EW Group

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