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Graduate schemes falling short on diversity

Recent graduates feel grad schemes are outdated and don't offer all applicants a fair chance, according to research

A third (30%) of graduates feel schemes are unfairly tailored to those from a more affluent socio-economic background, according to the research from Tempo.

Its poll of 1,000 recent UK graduates found that almost two-thirds (61%) believe graduate schemes are tied to traditional business models and perpetuate outdated notions of the workplace. Twenty per cent of respondents said their main issue with the application process is it being ‘old-fashioned’.

The research also suggested that traditional graduate schemes benefit men more than women. Despite holding the same qualifications, 44% of men complete graduate schemes compared to only 27% of women. Of those that complete graduate schemes, 56% of men were positive about them compared to 46% of women. Men were also more likely to be satisfied with what they're paid on their grad scheme (20%) compared to their female counterparts (12%).

When asked for the main improvement employers could make to the application process, greater accessibility for those with different qualifications and backgrounds came out top (39%), ahead of communication (38%), personalisation (36%) and clarity over the role (33%).

“Hardly a day passes without a major business releasing a new policy on culture and inclusion. Yet many of these companies only attend Oxbridge graduate days, and recruit through traditional schemes and Summer internships.” said Ben Chatfield, CEO and co-founder of Tempo.

“These methods can only take business diversity so far. At their worst they perpetuate the UK class divide; blocking those without connections, experience or the financial backing to cover the cost of living during the application process. Today’s research proves, without question, that if businesses want to be diverse they must completely rethink entry-level recruitment.”

Chatfield added that diversity in the workplace is no longer optional: “Diversity is frequently named as a top concern for business leaders yet our research suggests that very few proactively review their entry-level hiring process,” he said.

“Today’s results should stand as proof that solely using traditional systems fails to attract diverse employees. It is no longer a point of debate – if you care about diversity you must develop a system that caters to the expectations of those entering the workforce.”