By Morgan Lobb - Founder Diversityjobs.co.uk

I think we’ve got a bit of a ‘catch 22 situation’ between recruitment agencies and employers when it comes to diversity and inclusion; the people that are losing out aren’t only the jobseekers.

We’ve had equalities legislation in this country for a long time now. Every time an opinion poll or piece of research is published the general public’s response seems to point to the not unsurprising conclusion that equality of opportunity in our society is a majority consensus view.

Take for example the debate on equal pay. Most people if asked would agree that a woman should be paid the same for the same or equivalent role as a man. It’s hard to disagree with it, the Equal Pay Act was passed 45 years ago, and the law has become a ‘norm’. Or has it?

The statistics show that despite the Equal Pay Act women are still paid less than their male counterparts across the board, in fact in some instances there is a widening pay gap – although the last Government went to great lengths to say that for women under 40 the pay gap is virtually non-existent.

What we can’t tell is what will happen to the current women under-40s when they start to take time out of employment to have families, we’ll need to review the pay gap figures in 10-15 years time to see if their pay keeps pace with their male counterparts.

At best the equal pay example shows us how slow the pace of change is in recruitment and employment practice. At worst, it tells me we have a systemic problem.

Recruitment agencies know how much candidates are being offered for a role and in many cases will know how much other similar roles have attracted in the same organisation. On the employer side they absolutely know. So why does pay inequality still persist?

Today the workforce is better informed than they have ever been. The advent of smartphones and tablets means that information on an employer’s policies, practices, pay and working culture is only seconds away.

It is much easier for jobseekers to compare what employers are saying they offer their employees with what their closest competitors are offering. And, a savvy question posted on a social network will gain you instant insight into what it’s actually like to work for that employer and what your earnings potential and other benefits might be.

My experience with jobseekers backs this up; people are focused on finding a workplace that is a good fit with them as individuals, whether they need greater flexibility around childcare, want to be open and honest about their sexual orientation in the workplace or have their access requirements such as text-to-speech software met by the employer.

People know what they want from employment and it goes a way beyond the paycheck and the retirement fund. With the end of the compulsory retirement age and the state pension starting progressively later, jobseekers are acutely aware of much time they will be spending at work, so its not unreasonable that they to want to enjoy it and make work and life balance for them.   

Large employers are now telling me something I’ve long held to be true; ‘diversity and inclusion’ has become a significant differentiator in the competition for talent. Diversity Jobs was created to fulfill a? need for corporations’ to attract diverse groups into their organisations, and so our very foundations are in accordance with those of our customers.

Diversity Job’s ‘The Big  I.D.E.A.’ (inclusion, diversity, equality, accessibility)’ works with organisations to bring diversity and inclusion checklist to life in a way that meaningfully demonstrates what working life is like at an organisation through the values of its internal communities, whether they are based on gender, ethnicity, disability, religion or sexuality.

We were inspired to create The Big I.D.E.A because people don’t fit into neat boxes and often the person? in HR tasked with attracting more women, ethnic groups or disabled candidates, is completely disconnected from or unaware of the existence of their own employer’s internal diversity and inclusion networks. We bring together disparate groups to create a picture of? life for a vast array of people. The result is that a jobseeker gets a real sense of how the organisation’s values affect the people on the ground.

If employers genuinely wish to become employers of choice and attract a diverse talent pool, I’d like to know why we do not see more diverse shortlists at all levels? Recruitment agencies say to me that they will only offer diverse shortlists if that is what the employer is asking for. Employers are saying that recruiters are not presenting them with diverse candidates. Back to the catch 22 situation. 

Morgan Lobb is the CEO and Founder of DiversityJobs.co.uk. He started it because D&I has shifted from liability to asset quicker than most organisations have reacted, slow traditional procedures represent an opportunity. Gender, LGBTQ, ethnicity & disability are high on the agenda presenting competitive advantage, the challenge is 95% of organisations think it's just procedure, possibly because D&I hasn't been communicated effectively. Now bottom lines are affected so it's become a priority, we've built a business to facilitate the right changes within your organisation.