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Could talent shortages be solved through DEI?

Victoria Sprott, International Talent Acquisition Director - Robert Half

A specialist recruiter is urging UK businesses to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives if they want to secure top talent.

With both a talent shortage and the ‘Great Resignation’, more than half (51%) of senior business leaders think it will be harder to find talent with the right skills in 2022*.

Although the result shows that businesses are making diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) a top priority, especially when it comes to hiring, Robert Half believes businesses need to do more in order to attract and retain the best talent, as candidates are increasingly focused on businesses’ values and culture.

As well as attracting new candidates, 29% of senior leaders said staff dissatisfaction with company culture was their biggest concern when it comes to staff retention – which becomes more crucial when talent is in short supply.

Three in 10 (29%) senior leaders agreed that an increased focus on DEI creates greater empathy and better culture, while a quarter (25%) agree shifts they have made throughout 2021 have improved staff attraction and retention.

Victoria Sprott, International Talent Acquisition Director at Robert Half, said: “Attracting top talent is consistently the top issue expressed by employers, especially now that we are in a competitive market where qualified talent is hard to find. With candidates re-evaluating life priorities and difficulties with access to childcare, there is a clear desire for strong values, driven by DEI policies and flexibility that engenders inclusivity.

“Organisations that have invested in diversity and inclusion programmes during the pandemic have a significant competitive advantage in the current market, whereas those which are lagging behind risk falling into a talent trap they will struggle to escape from.”

The data shows businesses are shifting their priorities when it comes to hiring and recruitment to attract a more diverse talent pool. They are recognising the benefits and they want to change the makeup of their workforce for the better. For example, 59% of businesses use blind resumes to improve their hiring, 31% are adapting job adverts to attract more diverse talent and 30% are providing anti-bias training to staff.

But it doesn’t stop at hiring and recruitment. Investing in DEI initiatives can also help businesses to grow and innovate, attract new customers and clients, and enhance the employer’s brand and reputation. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of business leaders found that implementing a tangible DEI strategy helped boost company and client acquisition, while a quarter (25%) said that it attracted investors.

Widespread adoption of DEI initiatives also has the potential to boost a company’s productivity. The Office for National Statistics suggests that output per worker was 1.6% below the 2019 average, 24% of employers reported an increase in productivity thanks to greater workplace diversity and inclusion. Additionally, a quarter (25%) experienced increased potential for new ideas and innovation within their teams.

Victoria Sprott added: “Over the past few years, DEI has truly come into its own, rising to become a top priority amongst senior leaders. The impact of diversity and inclusion on everything from employee morale to innovation is pushing employers to become more transparent about their stance and hiring practices to ensure a better workplace and society.

“However, showing you are doing activity will not suffice for long – as standards around DEI continue to rise, business leaders will need to be able to show that their programmes work, with a tangible impact on diversity and inclusion, as well as on corporate culture and business objectives.”

*Survey from Robert Half

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