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Baker & McKenzie and Hogan Lovells launch 'contextual recruiting'

A first of its kind contextual recruitment tool has been launched to boost social mobility and ensure firms don’t overlook promising talent.

Graduate diversity recruitment company Rare's Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) embeds social mobility metrics into an organisation’s existing graduate recruitment process, enabling it to measure an applicant’s potential in the context of their background. 

Factors taken into account include a candidate’s home postcode, school attended, whether they were eligible for free school meals, if the first generation in their immediate household went to university, and whether they were ever in care or once a refugee or asylum seeker.

The CRS produces two scores: a measure of relative disadvantage and one of performance, so companies can see how an applicant compares with peers from a similar background.

“This is a great solution for those firms that were reduced to literally Googling candidates,” said managing director at Rare Raphael Mokades.

“It’s obvious if you get two As and a B and have gone to a good school that on the face of it those results are ok. But if you’re the first person in your family to go to university and spent a period of time in care, and you’ve come from a very economically disadvantaged background, then two As and a B from a grammar school starts to look impressive.”

On the business impact of using the CRS, Mokades said: “You end up calling more people to interview and sometimes those kids are just complete slam-dunks. There is no question you end up seeing and hiring people you wouldn’t otherwise.”

“For those individuals that’s revolutionary, and for the firm if those hires end up being profitable deal makers that’s a big deal.”

Law firms Baker & McKenzie and Hogan Lovells are the first companies to sign up for the tool.

Graduate recruitment partner at Hogan Lovells Tom Astle said: “We were concerned that some candidates with potential may be slipping through our screening because we did not fully understand their achievements set against particular challenges they may have had.” 

“While we have historically encouraged applicants to tell us about any extenuating circumstances that may have had an impact on their academic grades or performance, we felt individuals may not always want to explain these personal situations in this way,” he added. 

“This tool allows us to tap into a rich source of able candidates who have shown resilience in adversity and risen to challenges – qualities that will surely stand them in good stead during their careers.” 

Sarah Gregory, inclusion and diversity partner at Baker & McKenzie, added: "Tackling social mobility underpins our vision to be a truly inclusive organisation. It not only makes for a stronger workforce but one that reflects and is better able to respond to the needs of our clients.

Mokades reported that the tool had garnered interest in five different markets so far, in both the public and private sectors.

“We’ve got two more firms already signed and we expect the list to grow substantially in time for the next graduate recruitment season,” he said. “I would expect this to be widely adopted.”