We know that there’s a gap between intention and action when it comes to diversity. As we explored in our last post, while most organisations want to make a difference, they still struggle to turn the dial. At a recent RL100 (Recruiting Leaders 100) Virtual Summit session, Alan Bourne, CEO and Founder of Sova Assessment talked to our client Rachel Edwards, HRBP EDI Northern Europe of Atos, about their experiences of closing the gap between intent and action.
“We want to listen, we want to learn and we want to find ways to turn positive intent into meaningful action. We aspire to be allies. The challenge, of course, is that this aspiration alone won’t achieve much. The harsh truth is that a desire to want to help and want to support is of limited worth if we don’t understand the form that support needs to take.”
This quote illustrates the challenges that many of our clients face when they turn their attention to implementing inclusive hiring and development processes. While intent and initiatives point us in the right direction, the answer to turning the dial on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in recruitment does not lie in tactical, one-off solutions.
We need the systems to support it and that requires a review of every touch point, every process and every tool you and your teams use to select talent. Atos, with the support of Sova, are currently going on this journey. Here’s what Rachel had to say about their progress so far.
Rachel’s role at Atos sits within HR but spans the entire business working in partnership with hiring managers, partners and suppliers to make a difference on EDI across Atos’ entire ecosystem. Rachel’s role includes client facing assignments where she drives the EDI agenda on bids as well as internal responsibilities helping individual teams to cultivate a more diverse workforce.
Rachel explains some of the elements of Atos strategy that are enabling the business to make a difference at a strategic and systematic level.
Through a variety of interventions including a hiring board and an employee allies programme, Atos is helping internal stakeholders to think about inclusion in all their interactions. This might be the language used in job adverts (for example - what does regular travel actually mean?) to educating managers about the talent pipeline (such as highlighting that the problem can’t be solved by simply hiring a group of diverse people).
The hiring board sits across talent acquisition and helps hiring managers and their departments to be more inclusive in their outreach. If a manager isn’t able to attract a diverse range of candidates to a role, the hiring board can provide feedback on what they could do differently. This could be as simple as changing the language used or altering the working pattern of a role.
Part of Rachel’s role is to work with clients and suppliers to encourage and challenge them. Atos looks across its entire supply chain and asks whether its suppliers are creating inclusive solutions for the business. It’s important to Atos that the suppliers their employees are asked to work with treat everyone with respect.
Atos embeds diversity across its wider ecosystem by working with external partners on EDI initiatives. For example, co-hosting a black history month programme with Network Rail. The business has also built out a partnership with SAP to host an annual Diversity & Inclusion expo which is open to anyone inside and outside Atos. In addition to corporate partnerships, Rachel has established collaborations including those with schools, working with recipients of Universal Credit, and helping people into STEM subjects and tech roles – wherever the business can reach out to more people and encourage them into the industry.
At Atos, all employees have the right to propose new policy. This has resulted in new policies being put in place around the menopause, fertility and domestic abuse. Rachel says this has helped employees to feel that they are part of HR strategy. The company also has an allies programme to help develop EDI champions throughout the business who can spread the word about what its like to work at Atos.
Central to EDI strategy at Atos is data. “What gets measured gets done” says Rachel highlighting the importance of analytics and data. Atos has a data analytics team that used data to show tangible progress to employees so they can follow the company’s EDI journey.
Rachel keeps track of data at each stage of the employee lifecycle including how the company is attracting, inducting and promoting people. “This is where we see the opportunity to turn the dial”, she says. Using this data, Atos can make decisions across its 8,500- employee population on who needs investment, coaching, or to be onboarded onto talent programmes and therefore keep diverse talent moving up through the ranks.
At Sova, we believe that a lack of progress on EDI requires a systemic and robust response based on data. Platforms like Sova’s assessment technology have the power to create a level playing field in both recruitment and career progression.
If you’re interested in learning more about levelling the playing field, why not join the Sova Community? Our online forum is a place for learning, sharing of ideas and experiences, and a community of practice with the common goal of changing assessment for good. Through the Sova Community you’ll also be able to access our new D&I focused course, ‘Equitable assessment – why equality is not enough’. To access this course and the wider Community, sign up below.