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Diversity should be about the talent pipeline, not short-term gain, says Google’s head of diversity and inclusion


Employers’ diversity strategies should focus on creating a diverse talent pool for the future, not just short-term gain, Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, head of diversity and inclusion EMEA at Google has said.

Speaking to HR magazine yesterday at Google's launch event for its diversity programmes, Palmer-Edgecumbe said that Google's focus is on building long-term relationships with talent from diverse backgrounds, helping them progress in their careers, whether that's at Google or not.

"We're creating a talent pipeline and taking the long view," he said. "By building long-term relationships, we are ensuring diverse talent thinks of Google as a great place to work. It makes us proud when we see people [who have gone through Google's mentoring and internship programmes] get jobs at other organisations. We're enriching the talent pool for everyone."

Google partners with several organisations to run its diversity programmes, which aim to encourage more black students, female students and disabled people to consider careers in technology. Successful applicants to the diversity programmes are mentored by employees, with several receiving internships and even full-time roles afterwards.

"The stereotype of computer science tends to be a geeky white boy," said Palmer-Edgecumbe. "We work from kindergarten right through to PhD level to try and change that. We are a global company and we need to reflect the diversity of our users, and we need diverse teams to be as creative and innovative as possible."

"Unless you're a organisation that has totally homogenous customers, you need to tackle diversity," he continued. "Even if you only operate in the UK, you need a workforce that reflects and understands our diverse population. At Google, we don't just hire diverse staff and think we are 'fixed'. It's also about creating an environment where people can bring their whole selves to work and allows diversity to thrive."

Google partners with Rare, an agency that specialises in diverse graduate recruitment, the African Caribbean Society Company, and EmployAbility, an organisation which helps disabled students and graduates into work.

Tab Ahmad, managing director, EmployAbility, said that some disabilities, such as autism, can lend themselves to work in a technology company, but added that employers often unwittingly put up barriers disabled people find hard to navigate during the application process.