An appetite and eagerness for progress lie firmly at the heart of any dynamic organisation. Often, this mindset brings employees together, channelling their individual career and personal objectives into a shared purpose which offers rewards beyond the pay packet. It creates an environment where employees are free to explore new ideas, hobbies, career paths and other activities which enrich their well-being.
The ethos of personal progress – the ability to move forward – in a corporate setting can manifest itself in different ways. However, for many, the ability to develop themselves at work is very limited, as large numbers of employers decide how well people will perform in future based on their academic achievement alone. This disadvantages the swathes of talented, creative minds which might not have the academic credentials to get themselves into an interview position. But it also holds those employers back from widening their talent pool with colleagues who can think and act in ‘unconventional’ yet thoroughly impactful ways. Diverse backgrounds and perspectives are what lead to ‘outside the box’ thinking and solutions; and not enough companies are taking this opportunity to review their definition of talent.
At Grant Thornton UK LLP, we’ve long recognised the commercial and social need to build diverse teams comprising individuals from a mix of cultural, social and economic backgrounds. This socially-inclusive mindset serves us well and delivers a solid, commercial advantage to the firm. It means we can put together a first-class team which best represents our clients’ business and can quickly get to the heart of a challenge; rather than a team that solely represents the accountancy, tax or advisory fields, retrofitted into an industry.
Adopting a more flexible approach, taking into account the applicant’s academic and non-academic achievements, and their fit with the organisation’s values, means you have access to a much broader range of talented people. Beyond the selection process, this approach must be supported by on-the-job learning and personal development. This is something many employers don’t consider, as they factor in the short-term costs and efforts to re-engineer their strategies to develop their people. However, this misses the longer-term commercial gain and competitive advantage that a truly diverse and inclusive environment can offer.
Rachel Hill is senior social mobility manager at Grant Thornton UK LLP