Inclusive recruitment needs continuous improvement

Embedding diversity and inclusion into businesses has come on leaps and bounds in recent years – it’s been exciting to watch as companies have developed strategies to increase representation of many groups.

Axa has been among these, driving forward our ambition to be a truly inclusive employer, where everyone can bring all of themselves to work every day. It is because of this work that in April of this year we were ranked in The Times’ Top 50 Employers of Women.

We now want to go further in championing diversity in insurance and create careers that are accessible and inclusive.

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HR needs to think about equity, not equality

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is a central pillar and value within the business but it is essential that we continue to learn and evolve and don’t get complacent even when things are going well.

We understand and value the benefits of a diverse workforce that can bring new ideas and fresh approaches to our industry.

That’s why we recently took proactive steps to evaluate our current recruitment practices, understand cross-industry best practice and then identify opportunities to create specific diverse talent attraction plans.

We didn’t work alone to carry out this in-depth audit but enlisted the help of specialist recruitment solutions company Resource Solutions for constructive feedback.

The audit reviewed live vacancies and materials used during the recruitment process such as the careers site, application forms, interview questions, offers and correspondence with the recruitment teams through seven D&I lenses: gender, ethnicity, disability and neurodiversity, LGBT+, age, socio-economic background and faith.

The aim of such a deep dive is to acknowledge the impact we have had so far, but also to learn to view our D&I strategy as evolving to meet the needs of the talent out there.

The audit has been the perfect opportunity to understand what action we need to take around our processes to help shape our strategies and attract an even more diverse talent pool.

For example, I am proud to see that our careers website is considered best-in-class for accessibility, with an accessibility toolbar available to those who need it.

We’re also certified as a level three Disability Confident Leader, proactively offering reasonable adjustments throughout the interview process.

With these achievements, we can be pleased with what we offer candidates.

To take this a step further again, we’re going to start tracking the most common reasonable adjustments requested to help anticipate needs and requirements and allow us to respond quicker than before.

Another focus area for us is socio-economic backgrounds. We want to make sure we offer opportunities that enable social mobility and break down the barriers that stop many people from joining the insurance industry.

We already have 226 apprenticeships in over 20 locations throughout the UK and offer 28 different courses, including data, underwriting, marketing and HR.

However, we’re now looking at additional ways to reach a wider pool of talent and debunk myths about joining our industry. By creating links with schools and colleges we can support community development and promote entry level and apprenticeship job applications.  

We must consider the whole candidate journey and constantly review our practices and upskill our teams. By the end of the year, we aim for all our hiring managers to have completed our inclusive recruitment training module, as well as promoting a culture of learning and sharing to help everyone navigate and appreciate the diversity of talent in the selection process.

With our customers at the very heart of what we do, we understand the importance of having our people reflect their needs and be better placed to serve them.

By embracing our differences, and recognising the power of diversity, we can attract the best people with the best skills from all walks of life. We believe a happy and engaged workforce, that strives to celebrate diversity, enables us to be the very best we can be for all our customers.

We really want to achieve a culture where everybody can bring 100% of themselves to work and thrive. After all, different people working together make an organisation more dynamic and stronger.


Marcelle Foxcroft is head of talent acquisition at Axa


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