Social enterprises teach corporates about recruitment

The corporate sector is getting hungry for social diversity, according to delegates at the 2016 UnLtd Big Social in London last week.

Recruiting and working with people from disparate economic backgrounds and education is something mainstream business knows it can get from social enterprise, suggested speakers in the 'connecting with corporates' session at the event. 

One social entrepreneur audience member in the session said a global accountancy firm he'd work with was tired of attracting "cut-throat, high achievers". 

The delegate, who did not give his name, continued: “Our social enterprise works with prisoners and ex-prisoners and the firm said we had opened up a whole new way of thinking for them.

“They told us that they kept attracting cut-throat types with no soft skills, but the prisoners we work with offered something different because they've had to work by making their own resources.”  

Victoria Maltby, corporate marketing manager at Deloitte UK, said that in the Deloitte Access programme, the business is “desperately trying to widen the recruitment pool”. 

The Access programme is designed to improve social mobility and support a fairer society by giving young people from under-represented groups the ambition, skills and opportunities needed to access professional careers at companies like Deloitte.

“The pool is traditionally very narrow,” said Maltby. “We're definitely recognising that (need for social diversity) more and more, and we're not alone in the corporate world. It's much more widely recognised that a wider recruitment pool brings more value.” 

Christos Orthodoxou, founder of social enterprise Class Careers which connects employers to school leavers through live online workshops, was also on the panel. He has worked with PwC, Lloyds bank, Accenture and M&S. Corporates, Orthodoxou said, were feeling the need for social diversity “quite hard” and are finding that their graduates are getting "quite boring".

“Lloyds ask us about the portion of free school meals in any schools they'll be working with. They really love working with apprentices from more disadvantaged backgrounds; they find it more interesting and that it brings more innovative ideas,” said Orthodoxou.

Host of the session, and of the two-day event, Professor Vikas S Shah, suggested that horizontal diversity (eg, different ethnicities, genders) might not be as important as vertical diversity for companies wanting to stay ahead. Vertical diversity is generally understood as a mixture of people who are seen as being at different points on a 'social class' spectrum. 

He said that, in his work, he'd found that some corporates want people who are not the traditional 'Ivy League' type backgrounds because they work hard and usually care more about other employees. 


Photo credit: Dartmouth College