Th-OR-S31-6 - Reassessing ‘Best Practice’ Recruitment And Selection: Barriers To Social Mobility In Professional Services

Diversity in the workplace
Oral Presentation
Partie de:
jeudi 18 mai   12:45 PM à 01:00 PM (15 minutes)
Human resource management
Diversity in the workplace
Reassessing ‘best practice’ recruitment and selection: barriers to social mobility in professional services
L. Ashley 1, J. Duberley 2, D. Scholarios*, H. Sommerlad 3
1Royal Holloway University of London, London, 2University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 3University of Leeds, Leeds, -
Content: Purpose
Recruitment and selection of graduates into 'elite' professional services demonstrates what is generally accepted to be ‘best practice’. Multiple assessment hurdles, psychometric testing, and measures to minimize bias all suggest high reliability and validity. Yet, social inclusion continues to be a challenge in this sector. This study explores how staffing practices play a role in shaping dominant narratives of ‘talent’ and, ultimately, selection decisions, and reinforce barriers to inclusion.
The study is informed by 42 interviews with partners, Heads of HR, talent and recruitment officers in eight accountancy and financial services firms headquartered either in London or Scotland. The more diverse financial services provided a context which may be more conducive to social mobility. Each stage of graduate recruitment and selection was explored, as well as how selectors define and act on definitions of talent throughout these processes.
Findings across case studies demonstrate the role played by recruitment strategy, access to internships, pre-recruitment exposure to employers, and selection practices (e.g. application forms, competency-based interviews) shaped by dominant and symbolic shared constructions of competence. Differences between Scotland and London suggest that constructions of competence and selection processes were influenced by perceived client base and labour market context.
The focus on a single industry context and graduate-level hiring may imply context-specific findings.
Research/Practical Implications
The study demonstrates both barriers to inclusion (e.g. recruiting from preferred universities) and successful strategies for increasing diversity (e.g. greater use of social media, strengths-based assessment). The study has practical implications for attraction and coaching strategies pre-recruitment, making transparent notions of ‘talent’ amongst selectors, and greater monitoring of social inclusion outcomes.
It is not surprising that recruitment into professions is often shaped by a desire for exclusivity, but there are few studies which demonstrate how ‘best practice’ staffing may fall short of eradicating barriers to entry for those from less privileged backgrounds. The study provides evidence for a socially constructed, multifaceted understanding of recruitment and selection and warns against acceptance of rationalist notions of ‘best practice’.


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