Race Equality Awards 2017- Coventry Building Society: Recruitment of BAME Candidates

In the West Midlands, where Coventry Building Society is based, over 30% of the population and 32% of school leavers are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME)  backgrounds, but only 13% of Society employees are BAME. Despite an excellent relationship with the community, the Society was not maximising the pool of local talent available. As the Society is growing significantly, it needs to attract and appeal to BAME candidates to fulfil its operational requirements. The Society’s Diversity Steering Group agreed that action needed to be taken to address these issues, with the objective of widening the talent pool sourcing net while continuing to base appointments on meritocracy and proven competency.

The Society undertook a number of subtle actions, including:

  • Developing a new resource tracking system which enabled all candidates’ ethnicity to be volunteered on application. Candidates were tracked throughout their journey, and dashboard data was produced for all candidate touch points in order to establish any fallout or deselection
  • Scrutinising job adverts for overt or subtle unconscious bias, using a software package to screen adverts and recommend changes alongside a manual review of language and perceptions that could suggest a preference for white candidates.
  • Reviewing historically used assessment and personality tools, which established that the norm groups used for candidate benchmarking. These were outdated and disproportionately skewed towards the behaviour norms of white male candidates. A third party supplier was appointed who demonstrated an awareness of more inclusive and pluralistic norm groups. Cross-cultural behaviours have been incorporated into other assessment techniques such as role-playing and group exercises, particularly on the graduate and early careers programmes
  • Holding a workshop on EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) recruiting for all resourcing team members and suppliers used for volume recruitment. Delegates studied bias in adverts and assessment centres, approaches for a more culturally aware candidate experience and techniques to address unconscious bias in recruitment processes
  • Providing all recruiting line managers with a resourcing toolkit, including a workshop on EDI issues in recruitment such as cross-culture/bias and inclusive interview techniques
  • Agreeing to include at least one BAME candidate on shortlists for senior management positions and above and communicating this to all agencies on the PSL (Preferred Supplier List). A 20% BAME intake target for the Graduate programme was also set alongside positive action strategies such as assessment and recruitment practice programmes with local universities and colleges.

All of the Society’s 44 top Executives attended unconscious bias and inclusive leadership training in May 2017 with Professor Binna Kandola, and the Board received unconscious bias training, taking the Implicit Association Tests in October 2016.

In the last 12 months, overall BAME numbers across the Society have grown from 11% to 13%. BAME graduates represented 19% of graduate intake in 2017 (a 50% increase in two years), and 30% of participants in internal junior programmes for first-line managers are BAME. In the Direct Mortgages Department, which was resourced to be fully operational and provide excellent member service, the proportion of BAME employees increased from 11% in 2015 to 25% in 2017. All PSL agencies are also now asked to present at least one BAME candidate on external shortlists.