According to a survey from the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), Only 57 percent of graduates hired by companies had a state-school education – compared to 91 percent across the population.
A poll of employers, including those from the law, banking, professional and financial services, found that the leading graduate jobs in the country were still dominated by the privately educated.
This is despite nearly all of the 138 employers surveyed stating that improving diversity was a significant priority in the last year.
In another study by the ISE, 39% of students from a Lower-Socio-Economic background agreed with the statement:
‘I feel like my career options are determined by my (socio-economic) background’
This shows that some young people are setting low expectation before they even enter the world of work. Whether gender, ethnicity, disability, or socio-economic background, these should not be seen as barriers for application to graduate schemes.
77% of employers surveyed said they were improving their marketing activities, while 67% said they were changing their recruitment and assessment processes to address concerns.
A dramatic shift takes time, but here are some quick-wins:
- Visibility – Make your interns and graduates visible, and give them a platform to talk about their experiences. “Seeing people like me” will go a long way to change misconceptions
- Be upfront – Speak to your early careers cohort and understand what barriers they perceived and how the reality was different.
- Structure a narrative – it is important that you are able to clearly articulate why Diversity is important to your organization in an authentic way. Avoid sounding tokenistic by involving your target audience in the decision making
- Test – informally or formally test creative with the target audience and allow students to feedback and validate decisions
- Be bold – PR and press activity is a great way to make your marketing budget go further. Be brave, and the coverage will follow.
Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the ISE, said: “Employers are taking some serious action to improve the diversity of their workforce and there is a high level of concern, particularly as graduates from state schools are potentially being locked out of some of the best career options. “We must find the means to recruit the talent that exists within the breadth of the student body. “This means changing the nature of recruitment and selection processes and putting less focus on Russell Group institutions or those that companies have historic links with. “It is important to look at the wider social obstacles too. We can’t expect businesses to shoulder the full responsibility for an unequal society.”