The Ministry of Defence (MoD)

The client’s challenge:

Between 2015 and 2020 The Ministry of Defence (MoD) aims to provide “more opportunities for talented people from all communities and walks of life to serve their country” by increasing the recruitment of female and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates by 15% and 10% respectively.

As part of a broader programme to build a more inclusive culture, Capita is working with the British Army to improve diversity and inclusion in its recruitment through the Army’s national recruitment centres. Through this work, we aim to:

• Increase the number of applications from females and BAME candidates;
• Improve conversion rates of female and BAME candidates going through the recruitment process;
• Support MoD-wide initiatives to build a more inclusive culture in the Army.

Using data from the recruitment team and specialist consultants Capita is working with the Army to review:

• Routes to market for talent
• The recruitment process
• The candidate experience
• Training for recruiters

The aim is to cultivate a representative, trained and motivated recruiting workforce that ensures every candidate experience is a positive one.

The diversity audit:
The starting point for this project was a thorough diversity and inclusion audit at the national recruitment centre (NRC) for soldiers.

The objective was to gain a comprehensive understanding of the end-to-end recruitment process through an inclusivity lens, from attraction to on-boarding covering the total candidate experience.

The audit included shadowing recruiters, listening to calls with candidates, interviewing recruiters and reviewing some of the materials used during the recruitment process.

Following the audit, we had a better understanding of communication, feedback, employer brand and recruiter training needs.

What it found:

BAME candidates:
Although BAME candidates did not appear to face any perceived barriers, the candidate experience varied between Foreign and Commonwealth Office candidates and others. Some experienced a much more empathetic process with more nurturing, touch points and actual time spent with candidates than others.

Female Candidates:
Females often enter the recruitment process overweight for the Army’s requirements and can face issues related to their menstrual cycle during the medical. It’s vital that recruiters are confident to have conversations with female candidates about weight, fitness and other issues that could affect them in the medical stage later in the recruitment process.

Unconscious Bias:
Recruitment is fast paced and often requires quick thinking. Due to the sheer volumes of candidates that recruiters manage, unconscious bias is likely to impact decision making within the recruitment process. Assumptions could be made about whether a candidate will be successful or not purely in order to process the high number of applications.

Learning and Development:
Having observed the recruitment team at work, we found more support could be given to recruiters in nurturing candidates. For example, how to have difficult conversations, coaching styles, awareness of unconscious bias, and how to create a positive message to market job roles effectively.

Early in the recruitment process, recruiters have more flexibility in the conversations they have with candidates. No recommended outlines, pointers or checklists existed, leading to a lack of consistency in communication. The format for touch-points with candidates between initial engagement and the assessment centre was not formalised leading to inconsistency in the candidate experience.

Nurturing communications:
At all touch-points more messaging around diversity and inclusion, and the Army’s broader goal of more diverse manpower, could be included. There was a lack of diversity and inclusion related content for recruiters to confidently use with candidates to improve the recruitment experience.

Next steps: 
The output from the diversity audit helped us to establish a start-point for further analysis and for recommending changes to bring about positive impactful change to the recruitment process.

Using the findings from the audit, the next phase of the project included:

Review of the recruitment process: including routes to market for talent sourcing, documentation, processes, online content and the assessment centre.
Supporting recruiters: including identifying manageable volumes of candidates, time spent with candidates, training for recruiters, coaching and experiential learning for recruiters.
Unconscious bias training: Co-design and deliver unconscious bias training for the recruiters and diversity champions.
Conversion: Capture and review feedback from successful and unsuccessful BAME and female candidates at every stage of the process, conduct ‘exit interviews’ with candidates who attend assessment centres, review of on-boarding process and candidate nurturing activities.
Females: build into the process greater assistance in coaching for fitness, provide support and coach recruiters on having confident conversations about fitness and medical topics.
Communication: provide more touch-points for candidates such as more information on social media tools and the opportunity of a personal development day.

Continuous improvement:

Analysis of the recruitment process, and resulting recommendations for impactful change, will then feed into mechanisms for continuous improvement. The goal is to bring about ongoing positive change to the recruitment process and therefore broader culture.

A continuous improvement working group can capture and review feedback from BAME and female candidates at every stage of the process to learn and adjust based on their experience of the attraction, recruitment and nurturing process.

Key to the success of improving manpower diversity within the Army is the development of inclusive behaviours. A continuous review of all initiatives will help to ensure these are embedded and that cultural and role model behaviours are lived and breathed by all.