Diversity biggest challenge for in-house executive recruitment

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Finding, engaging with, and hiring diverse candidates are the biggest challenges faced by in-house recruiters when hiring leadership positions.

Research conducted by The FIRM (the Forum for In-house Recruitment Managers) finds that 31% of in-house recruiters see diversity as the biggest leadership hiring challenge, while attracting the right talent and finding the right talent are the biggest barriers for 21% and 16% respectively.

Its In-House Leadership Hiring research finds that the organisations that are consistently successful in hiring diverse leadership talent have a strong track record of diversity in their organisation, a positive brand image, and the ability to offer a competitive compensation package.

The research involved a survey of FIRM members and interviews with talent acquisition leaders and heads of executive search.  Some 80% of those who took part were working in companies with more than 1,000 employees.

A third of firms saw the volume of leadership hiring – defined as director or VP-level or higher – increase in 2020. These organisations are mainly in the telecoms and tech industries, which saw demand for their services leap during a year of lockdowns and mass homeworking.

However, 53% say that Covid-19 has had an impact on their leadership hiring plans. Thirty-two per cent saw the volume of hires decrease in 2020, with reasons for this including a focus on internal promotions, consolidation of roles, hiring freezes and business restructuring.

Nearly half (47%) feel that hiring volume will remain the same in 2021, while 20% anticipate that it will increase.

The majority of respondents (70%) have an in-house leadership hiring team. For more than half of these organisations this team is relatively new, with 25% having it in place for less than a year and 33% for 1-3 years.

Many bolster their in-house leadership recruitment capabilities with help from an executive search firm (60%) and research firm (28%), giving their in-house team time to focus on client and candidate management.

The report says: “The majority of companies with an in-house team are also using search firms making the hybrid model the most prevalent. In fact, we have seen that the most successful in-house models are those that are focused on providing a well-managed consistent process and experience rather than being driven purely by cost savings.”

Asked about their challenges in making an in-house leadership hiring function successful, 94% say that getting buy-in from executives and the broader talent management function is an issue. Seventy-six per cent struggle with resourcing and 48% feel capability is a challenge.

Benefits of having the function in-house include avoiding cost (cited by 88% of respondents), candidate experience (49%), ensuring a consistent process (48%), and speed of hiring (47%).

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