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Diversity&Inclusion

Do you deserve my attention?

7 min read

Jill Downey, Managing Director

by Jill Downey, Managing Director

Core Sponsorship

When asked recently to speak at a 30% Club Council event on the role of the ‘Employer Brand’ and diversity and inclusion (D&I) in recruitment, I naturally thought about my own role, and the roles of many working women just like me. The 30% Club is a group of Chairs and CEOs committed to gender balance at all levels of their organisations through voluntary actions. It has more than 200 supporting businesses, including many of Ireland’s leading organisations.

At this council event, the 30% Club launched their updated Executive and Board Resourcing Code which sets out standards for executive search firms and organisations to follow in delivering greater balance in senior appointments.

I came to this in my role as Core’s board sponsor for Diversity and Inclusion and I combined this understanding with our deep expertise on the topic in Core. Our Recruitment and Research Practices specialise in all aspects of Employer Branding, from research, insight and strategy right through to creative and campaign activation.

A big challenge for business, who understand the value of diversity at senior level is attracting and retaining experienced female professionals. Of course, there are other challenges in terms of retention of top female talent, but the focus of my talk was specifically recruitment.  I decided to think about all the roles I had played in the past seven days.

A sponsorship consultant, a board director, a D&I lead, a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a book club analyst, a taxi driver, a Munster fan, an awards judge, a nurse, a play date entertainer, a potty trainer, a speech writer and when I wasn’t doing any of that, I was thankfully, quite a good sleeper! If you consider that I am not caring for anyone who is ill, I believe I have it relatively easy.

If you want to attract someone similar to me to your organisation, and I’m not unique, it is a challenge. This is not because I am too busy that is nonsense. It is because your employer brand message must somehow grab my attention, hold it long enough to pique my interest and most importantly, it must deserve my attention.

A carefully managed employer brand is critical to deliver on all three. A company who can communicate with clarity on the essence of what it means to work in their organisation is going to get my attention. A company that understands how to communicate with considered content across all channels, engaging at each touchpoint will hold my attention. And if I can see a great company that can back up its claims or show its aspirations around gender diversity, now that deserves my attention.

You cannot pay lip service to diversity and inclusion. A simple search on Google can speak volumes about the claims you make around the topics. A handy tip if you are considering a new role is to look at the Google images section within the search function. It can leave an instant impression.

If you are trying to attract women to your organisation but all they see is men on the website or an all-male panel at one of your events, they will be sceptical at best, and disengaged at worst. They have other more worthy battles for their time and energy than leaving a company who more than likely includes their voice to join one who, on appearances at least, looks like it needs to be convinced. Likewise, if you have aspirations for diversity from a HR perspective but your hiring managers don’t follow through on policies during the interview process, a vital link in the chain is broken.

As outlined in Core’s Outlook 2019, it is altogether possible that Brexit may not be the biggest headache for business in 2019. We are now operating in a dramatically different jobs market close to full employment, with dramatically different competitors in the war for talent, and dramatically different expectations of the employer. Retaining and finding the right talent is becoming a serious, and expensive, problem. The cost of a bad hire is an even bigger problem.

Your reputation as an employer – your employer brand – has a major bearing on your ability to attract employees who are right for your business. A well-managed employer brand helps an organisation recruit the right people, reduce hiring costs and improve productivity. Core’s work across many industries, in both public and private sectors, demonstrates time and again that it is the unique portrayal of an employer’s brand that enables successful recruitment.

Our research indicated what was important to both men and women when considering a new role. The six most important factors to consider were consistent for both men and women. However, when asked to rate their importance, women rated them all higher in importance than men. It is more difficult to turn our heads, because a new role must tick so many boxes.

A strong employer brand can have an impact on our perception of the companies trust and reputation. We pay more attention to reviews and commentary, and that is an opportunity for the brand. While the employer’s location may seem like a fixed barrier, communication of flexible working practices can break down a barrier and bring a candidate back into the net.


Online and word of mouth, are the two top sources of information on potential job opportunities, it is vital that you are on top of all your collateral which exists online. In just the same way as companies spend considerable time, money and effort understanding the customer journey, they need to understand the entire applicant journey and consider the employer brand across every touchpoint. Think about unsuccessful candidates and not just those who are recruited. The candidate experience must live up to the expectation you have created through your employer brand, otherwise trust is fractured.

Why not rely solely on the strength of your customer brand? Research indicates that having a strong employer brand is twice as effective as the customer brand in attracting talent, but the employer and customer brand must be in harmony, and if responsibility lies in two different disciplines it is vital that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.

Reflecting diversity in your employer brand can sometimes feel like a brave and scary move. So, our advice is to be ready. Scenario plan for varying reactions. It can make a difference when you respond, particularly in a clear and measured way. Social media has changed the world immeasurably for brands, allowing a direct dialogue with consumers and a place for them to vent, and the employer brand is no different. Though it is not always possible for every sector or highly regulated industries to respond, where possible, by staying upfront about your aspirations and that you are not there yet, proactively responding to criticism and feedback, can turn detractors into powerful advocates.

We help businesses reassess their approach, spending time developing the Employer Value Proposition based on fact and insight, and thinking about it on every stage of the applicant process. The benefits are well documented. Communicate your unique attributes in a way that gets attention, holds attention and deserves attention. As a final thought, people are the most powerful and influential medium there is, treat them with respect, and you will have nothing to worry about.

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