Emma Codd

Big four firm Deloitte UK is building a radical recruitment programme which reaches to the heart of its culture. As well as working hard to ensure that its recruitment processes are bias free, it is thinking differently about who and how it hires, to ensure it has the appropriate skills within the organisation for the future so that it not only has the right skills for the future but also a workforce that is truly diverse. 

The strategy is being devised and led by Emma Codd, Deloitte UK's Managing Partner for Talent and a member of the firm’s Executive. She says the revised recruitment methods are receiving enthusiastic support throughout the firm. 

Despite the changes and the decisions taken there is not a hint of complacency over progress made. Indeed, the reflection is unflinching: for instance, Emma is clear that the firm does not have enough senior women. 

It is worth putting this into context. At the last count the firm had over 30,000 applications for around 1,200 trainee vacancies. The firm isn’t changing its recruitment approach because it struggles to hire talent, it is doing it because it believes in hiring a range of diverse talent. 

Steps that the firm has taken include:

  1. Graduate and school leavers hired using contextualised data:Deloitte's recruiters are provided with a range of standardised data on candidates' economic background and personal circumstances, allowing them to make more informed choices about candidates by considering the context in which their academic achievements have been gained.
  2. Academic institution 'blind' CVs to address unconscious bias:removing the name of the school and university from the application form. That means job offers are made based on present potential, not past personal circumstance. The firm has also introduced name blind CVs. Deloitte recruited over 100 students in 2017 who would not have made it onto the payroll without such interventions. How they will progress remains to be seen but Emma says feedback from partners and other staff is overwhelmingly positive. 
  3. Designing a recruitment programme which reaches out to school leavers: In 2017 Deloitte UK hired around 300 school leavers and next year expects to see this increase. Emma says this is creating alternative career paths for those who don't want to go to university and the firm is finding talent who are motivated, engaged and enthusiastic.
  4. Creating and delivering a formal work experience programme: this reaches beyond its traditional networks and is for those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.   

It is not only at the entry point to the firm where Deloitte is evolving its recruitment approach. Emma tells how the firm is focussed on agile working for all staff, tailoring work around individual circumstances often related to carer duties. 

Agile working particularly addresses, in Emma’s words: "pain points where at senior manager level women were disappearing". Alongside targeted actions such as a return to work programme and coaching for those who are primary carers, Deloitte says its culture change means women are choosing to stay in the organisation.

All in all this is ripping up the rule book: Deloitte is challenging its own attitudes and pre-conceptions. For instance, it has put processes in place to ensure its marketing and recruitment literature is gender neutral, and that all individuals in the firm think about their own personal responsibility to treat people with respect. 

It could be years before the impact of these changes is really known but evolution of the talent recruitment process to drive diversity and secure the future skills needed by the firm is clearly a priority.