Experts urge companies to ‘walk the talk’ after PwC bans all-male shortlists
Diversity and inclusion experts have praised PwC’s decision to ban all-male shortlists for UK-based jobs, in a bid to increase the number of women in recruitment pools at the ‘Big Four’ firms.
The measure, which was announced yesterday, forms part of PwC’s action plan to narrow its 34 per cent gender pay gap, which is almost double the national average of 18.4 per cent.
“Diversity in our recruitment processes is something we’ve been focused on for some time and as part of this we are ensuring we have no all-male shortlists and more diverse interviewing panels,” said Laura Hinton, chief people officer at PwC.
“We’re also going one step further and setting ourselves a 50/50 shortlist target for all direct recruitment activity. This is part of our wider action plan to promote diversity and inclusion in all forms, including gender, ethnicity and social mobility.”
Dr Jill Miller, policy adviser at the CIPD, said such moves were likely to become more common among organisations extending beyond gender diversity to include ethnic and other minority groups.
However, she added that sustained improvement would not be achieved simply by organisations improving the diversity of their recruitment. She urged businesses to scrutinise their evidence bases and establish why women were leaving at certain points in their career, or not applying for positions in the first place.
“So many organisations are sitting on useful data that is not being mined effectively for these purposes,” Miller said. “Use the insights gathered by recruitment data and exit interviews to establish what needs to change. The ways work informally gets done within a business easily supersedes what is espoused in the formal policy: the culture must walk the talk.”
Creating a strong workplace culture means building diversity and inclusion into every aspect of an organisation, added Suki Sandhu, founder and chief executive of Audeliss and INvolve.
“On top of recruiting from a diverse pool, they need to be reviewing diversity at every level of the business and tracking staff retention, taking active steps to address any shortcomings,” he told People Management.
“They also need to ensure their policies and mandatory training are inclusive and non-discriminatory – including things like unconscious bias training for all, which can really help shift perceptions and therefore culture.”
Meanwhile, welcoming the move, Fiona Hathorn, managing director at Women on Boards UK, said: “Such measures force gatekeepers to widen their field of vision and ensure they turn off the spotlights and put on the floodlights.”
Sam Smethers, chief executive at the Fawcett Society, also applauded “employers taking proactive steps to achieve gender balance in recruitment, progression and promotion within their organisations”.
“Talent is not concentrated in one half of the population,” she said. “Unless employers take steps to attract, recruit and retain female talent they will be missing out.”
Last Thursday, politicians criticised the Bank of England for selecting the only male economist on a five-person shortlist to join its Monetary Policy Committee, which currently has just one female member.
That same day, the government revealed a list of FTSE 350 chairs’ and bosses’ worst excuses for not having more women in their boardrooms, including women not wanting “the hassle or pressure” and there not being “many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on a board”.
Business minister Andrew Griffiths slammed the “pitiful and patronising” excuses, adding: “Leaders expressing warm words of support but actually doing very little to appoint women into top jobs – or quietly blocking progress – are really not much better.”
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