As the UK recruitment industry expands, it struggles with diversity

April 9th, 2018 | Industry News

The news that more new recruitment consultancies were set up in January and February of this year than in 2017 suggests that the industry is faring well. The 1,777 new agencies demonstrate an increase of 9% over the previous year and each of these agencies will be looking for the competitive edge against both established rivals and other new entrants. Online recruitment software may provide the advantage that these new businesses are seeking for three reasons:

  1. Streamlined recruitment management software gives them the ability to focus on what distinguishes them from competitors rather than wasting time on mundane processes
  2. Personal engagement with both clients and candidates can be furthered through using software as a service to garner and store information that builds deeper relationships in both directions
  3. Rapid responses to changes in the marketplace are likely to be required of all successful recruitment agencies – those using recruitment database software that is flexible, intuitive and regularly upgraded by the provider are more likely to be able to make those responsive alterations that give the agency the edge.

Diversity in doubt in UK recruitment

This year’s International Women’s Day brought a stark fact into focus – while there are more women in the UK workforce than ever before, less than 4% of FTSE 350 firms are led by female CEOs. To put it another way – given that the UK is likely to need nearly 2 million new management roles to be filled by 2025, 1.5 million of them would have to be taken by women to achieve equal representation of the sexes.

A range of tactics are suggested to adjust the gender gap, including encouraging organisations to explore whether vacancies could be listed as flexible and whether such factors as compressed hours, job-sharing and working from home would make senior roles more attractive to female candidates – the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says 42% of the entire employment pool would welcome flexible working opportunities. As recruiters move online, relying on web based recruitment software to allow them to update systems and manage appointments on the go, it would make sense for them to ‘educate’ their client base in ways to advertise vacancies to make them appealing to women and ways to conduct interviews and screening processes that remove unconscious bias. The message being conveyed by a number of senior recruitment figures is that this is less about ‘gender balance’ and more about good recruitment; getting the best people for the job without allowing unconscious bias to influence decisions.

Sites such as Glassdoor are giving top candidates a chance to interrogate potential employers long before they attend for interview – top flight organisations need to accept that they don’t just need to alter recruitment practices but to live up to their commitments to diversity at all levels to ensure they have a robust, future-proofed, workforce.