The Intelligence: D&I strategies

Diversity and inclusion is just one of the topics at this year's Talent Recruitment and Employment Conference.

One of many topics being discussed at this year’s Talent Recruitment and Employment Conference is diversity and inclusion strategies in the recruitment industry. With compulsory gender pay reporting results being published for the first time this year, gender diversity in recruitment is a particularly timely topic for discussion.

One of the key findings highlighted in a BBC analysis of the results was the low proportion of women in top earning roles, with only one fin three firms having a majority of women among their top earners.

Executive search firms play a crucial role in recruiting high-level candidates to top-level roles in a wide range of industries. In 2014, the REC published its ‘Room at the top’ report, which examined the role of executive search firms in ensuring women leaders have access to vacancies at the highest level. We interviewed executive search firms and senior executives of firms outside the recruitment industry to highlight areas of good practice that could be emulated more widely.

The report focused on the three key elements in trying to promote gender diversity at the highest level: the executive search firm involved, the hirer and the women candidates for the roles. The report cites the Davies Review’s observation that 73% of FTSE 100 firms use executive search firms, highlighting the crucial role played by these firms in appointing women to senior positions in top firms. Headhunters interviewed for the report highlighted the role they could play by working with clients to avoid unconscious bias and ensuring a diverse shortlist for senior roles.


The report cites the Davies Review’s observation that 73% of FTSE 100 firms use executive search firms

One of the key findings highlighted in a BBC analysis of the results was the low proportion of women in top earning roles, with only 1 in 3 firms having a majority of women among their top earners.


As of November 2017, 39 executive search firms (which represent the majority of work supporting board appointments in the UK) had signed up to the voluntary code of conduct for executive search firms to promote diversity at the highest level. Furthermore, the Women on Boards Davies Review Five Year Summary (published in 2015) highlighted the efforts of executive search firms as “a major driver of progress” in doubling the number of women on FTSE 100 boards from 12.5% in February 2011 to 26.1% in October 2015.

The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy announced on International Women’s Day in March 2018 that FTSE 100 companies are now on track to have a third of board positions filled by women by 2020. However, this year’s gender pay reporting data shows there is still more to be done in ensuring diversity at every level. The REC will be publishing a new piece of research exploring diversity in recruitment and employment this year to continue promoting equality in our industry and in the wider working world.

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