diversityThe diversity agenda often focuses on the areas which many managers are more familiar with – women in the board-room for example. But diversity is something which should be incorporated into recruitment and talent management strategies across the whole business. Take for example the emerging talent market.

In our current climate, it’s becoming increasingly important to be able to respond to changes in the emerging talent landscape – the section of the workforce that includes school leavers, apprentices, interns and graduates. Across Europe, this issue is creeping into the HR agenda as many businesses are seeing its value – namely that it can provide them with a competitive advantage.

However, emerging talent is no longer an homogenous term. It now encompasses anyone with the right skills, attitudes and potential to fill critical roles in an organisation – both now and in the future. This includes a wide range of individuals, such as school leavers, apprentices, interns and graduates, from varying backgrounds.

Building diversity into the emerging talent programme

The value of encouraging diversity when it comes to a business’ emerging talent programme should not be underestimated. We only have to look at the UK graduate talent pool to see the logic behind this; there are 2.5 million students in Higher Education in the UK, 57% of these are female, 20% are from ethnic minorities, and 3% have a known disability. Therefore, if an organisation’s emerging talent programme is designed for white middle class males, it’s failing to tap into more than half of available graduate talent.

Diversity is about valuing all characteristics and experiences that define each person as an individual, and it can bring several benefits to a company. Firstly, it can increase employee morale, involvement and commitment, leading to higher retention levels, fewer sick days, and ultimately increased productivity. It also enhances employer brand and reputation, as well as customer satisfaction as the workforce reflects the diverse customer base. Furthermore, diversity brings new ideas in, and reduces the likelihood of ‘group think’, which can be detrimental for a business.

There are six key tips for success when addressing diversity within emerging talent:

  • First, look at workforce analytics and metrics to see how the current workforce is made up, for example male: female ratios and the levels that they work across. Use this information to identify any areas where talent attraction may be weaker.
  • Ensure there is leadership buy-in and involve all employees to help to improve understanding and avoid conscious and unconscious discriminations.
  • Develop talent communities and support networks to highlight achievements of those from under-represented groups. Take the example of GE Energy, who started its women’s network in 1997. It was created to help the women working at GE to advance their careers by sharing information, best practices, education, and experience. There are now 150 hubs across 40 countries, with more than 2000 events a year.
  • Start early. Research has shown that many girls rule themselves out of entering into engineering by the age of 14, so it’s important to reach emerging talent at an early age.
  • Engage with talent communities and actively encourage them into the organisation. In order to build relationships with specific interest groups, have a clear understanding of what motivates them. A recent report suggested that the UK’s emerging talent is looking for a business to be professional, caring, and dynamic, and the recruitment programme needs to reflect this.

The emerging talent landscape will produce the leaders of the future, and as HR professionals look to create a more diverse work-force, this talent group cannot be ignored. In fact, it is likely that this generation of candidates will be responsible for managing a wide range of talent themselves. Building the diversity agenda into emerging talent programmes will go a long way to supporting such developments.