Today, diversifying your organisation through your early careers strategy is essential for fostering a more inclusive and innovative workplace.
Whether you’re recruiting for entry-level roles that offer on-the- job training or graduate schemes, if you are doing it the same way you did five years ago, or not offering an early talent programme at all, then you are missing a trick.
The world of work is ever-changing along with the labour market, and in order to react accordingly, organisations need to adopt an agile approach to ensure they are building a talent pipeline that will benefit them imminently, as well as in the future. While they are building this talent pipeline, it’s vital they ensure the process promotes inclusivity so to embed further diversity in their organisational culture.
What is an early careers strategy?
An early careers strategy is a comprehensive plan devised to attract, nurture, and develop young talent at the beginning of their professional journeys. It encompasses various initiatives aimed at recruiting recent graduates, interns, apprentices, and other early career professionals.
The primary goal of an early careers strategy is to identify and cultivate promising individuals who can contribute to the organisation's long-term success, while also providing them with the support and resources needed to kickstart their careers and reach their full potential within the company.
How can you achieve diversity?
There are many simple steps that can be taken to ensure your early careers programme is as inclusive as possible – I have narrowed it down to 12 for the sake of this article. However, before you embark on the journey it’s vital you define specific, measurable, and achievable diversity goals. You can do this by understanding the areas where you want to enhance diversity, such as gender, ethnicity, age, or backgrounds.
Once you have defined those goals here are some tactics you could adopt:
1. Craft job descriptions that are gender-neutral and inclusive in language. Avoid using biased terms that might discourage individuals from underrepresented groups from applying.
2. Implement blind recruitment practices where possible, such as removing names and personal information from initial application reviews. This reduces unconscious bias during the initial screening process.
3. Ensure your interview panels are diverse. Multiple perspectives during interviews can help evaluate candidates fairly and attract a more diverse talent pool.
4. Consider creating a mentoring programme that pair early career employees, especially those from underrepresented groups, with experienced employees who can guide and advocate for them.
5. Conduct diversity and inclusion training for all employees involved in the early careers strategy. Awareness programmes can help combat unconscious biases and create a more inclusive environment.
6. Establish employee resource groups (ERGs) or affinity groups that offer support and networking opportunities for underrepresented employees. These groups can help new hires feel included and valued.
7. Customise your onboarding process to address the unique needs of diverse hires. Ensure they feel welcome and have access to resources and support systems.
8. Create a level playing field for all early career hires when it comes to opportunities for advancement, promotions, and leadership development.
9. Where possible, continuously track and measure your diversity efforts. Use metrics to evaluate the success of your early careers strategy in terms of diversity and adjust as needed.
10. You need to review and update your company benefits and offerings to ensure they support and attract new entrants to the labour market. This includes offering lifestyle benefits that suit their needs, learning and development opportunities, flexible work arrangements, and accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
11. Combined with the above point, how your early careers proposition dovetails with your organisation’s employee value proposition (EVP) is also vital.
If you are looking to truly embrace diversity and encourage those into an early careers programme, you need to assess whether your organisation-wide employee value proposition (EVP) resonates with the right cohort. Furthermore, does the EVP you have – either company-wide or aimed specifically at early talent – work for a diverse workforce?
12. Regularly solicit feedback from early career employees about their experiences within the organisation. Use this input to identify areas for improvement and refine your diversity strategy.
By implementing these strategies, your organisation can diversify its early careers programme and attract a broader range of talents, creating a more inclusive workplace that fosters innovation and success. However, it’s important to remember that diversity is not just about numbers but about creating a culture where every individual feels valued and empowered to contribute their best.
So, what am I saying?
In a nutshell, early careers programmes play a pivotal role in an organisation's growth and sustainability. Firstly, they act as a talent incubator, allowing companies to identify and nurture promising individuals from diverse backgrounds at the outset of their careers. By providing mentorship, training, and development opportunities, you can shape these early career professionals to fit your culture and values, creating a strong foundation for future success.
Secondly, early careers programmes are a catalyst for diversity and inclusion within an organisation. They present a unique opportunity to attract candidates from various demographics, ensuring a more diverse workforce. When individuals from different backgrounds join the organisation early in their careers, it helps break down barriers, fosters a sense of belonging, and promotes a culture of inclusivity. These diverse perspectives can lead to more creative problem-solving, better decision-making, and a broader range of innovative ideas.
Ultimately, early careers programmes, if implemented correctly, have the potential to embed a diverse culture within an organisation. By actively seeking out talent from underrepresented groups and providing them with equal opportunities for growth and advancement, companies send a clear message that diversity is a core value. Over time, as early career hires progress within the organisation and take on leadership roles, they contribute to a more inclusive culture that permeates every aspect of the company. In this way, early careers programmes not only benefit the individuals they nurture but also have a profound and lasting impact on the organisation's overall culture and success.
If you’re looking for guidance with your early careers strategy, get in touch with one of our experts today.