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Graduates think nepotism trumps diversity in recruitment

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UK students are concerned hiring decisions are based on nepotism and physical appearance rather than talent.

The majority of HR decision makers (59%) in the survey Defining the Buzzword said they think their business is already doing enough to recruit a diverse workforce, but 81% of students and graduates disagree.

Physical appearance (58%) was identified as the top identity trait students think has the greatest influence on companies’ recruitment, followed closely by race and/or ethnicity (52%) and nationality (52%).

The survey also found 81% of students think nepotism is still a major factor when it comes to who is offered a job, yet only 6% of HR decision makers agree.

Georgina Day, graduate jobs expert at graduate job site Milkround, said that the survey highlights a disconnect between employers and graduates.

A quarter (23%) of HR decision makers admitted their company does not currently have any diversity and inclusion recruitment strategies in place.

Two thirds (62%) of students and graduates said they would like to see more companies introduce blind recruitment where a candidate’s personal details are not requested or are removed from applications to limit the impact of unconscious bias.

Currently 14% of employers reported practicing blind recruitment, and a third of those not practicing it (37%) are planning to implement this strategy in the near future.

The diversity of a company’s workforce is important for graduates when applying for jobs - over a third (34%) said they consider how committed a company is to D&I before applying for a job role.

This rose among often underrepresented members including women (39%), those from multiple ethnic groups (46%), and non-binary people (73%).

The report concluded by recommending unconscious bias training and education should be a key priority for all companies.

It also said employers needed to do more to communicate their actions internally to show employees what they are doing to attract a more diverse workforce and increase applications amongst talented entry-level students and graduates.

Day concluded: “Employers must ensure they have the right processes in place so that they’re receiving applications from the best talent, regardless of background.

“It’s then a case of clearly articulating what these processes are to potential applicants, reassuring them that they’re taking part in a fair recruitment process based on skills and experience, not personal characteristics.”

Milkround surveyed 250 HR and recruitment decision makers through Opinium between 28 September and 2 October, and 1,000 students and recent graduates through Student Hut between 6 October and 20 October.