It’s true: you can’t be what you can’t see

ByJoanne Lockwood

It’s true: you can’t be what you can’t see

Right now, we are in a world of talent shortage – we can see this every day when we talk about the NHS, HGV drivers,and the hospitality industry.

We are also facing a huge skills gap in tech talent. This is not just programmers and engineers, but also supportive roles in sales, support, marketing, recruiters and administration. There is constant debate around trying to tap into under-represented and marginalised communities which are typically not engaged in this sector – why? Now that is a question to ponder.

Too often we see organisations targeting and hiring for skills and qualifications and expecting great people to be available in their droves. The adage is true, “you can’t be what you can’t see”, and that is exactly what is playing out in the tech industry.

Women, people of colour, and those with disabilities are not engaging through their schools, colleges and universities in a way that will lead them to technology opportunities.

Organisations have a choice: sit back and say “It’s difficult, the candidates are not out there”, or they can be proactive and create their own pipelines. Build your own academies, proactively look at your recruitment marketing and ask yourself why you are not attracting these candidates.

In the future organisations must seek out candidates not only in the early stages of their careers, but also those at a mid-point or who still have much to give in later life. Take this opportunity to pay them to train – and I mean pay them properly – and build your own talent pipeline; when looking for the “right people” select for emotional intelligence, drive, and flexibility over and above on-paper qualifications and experience.

If organisations examine those employees who progress and succeed, they are typically those with personal attributes beyond the pure technical skill.

Work with your existing networks and people to look at the role and personal specifications to ensure you are not introducing bias or negative signals. Set targets, gather data, and track your goals. You won’t always get this right first time, but with the right insights you’ll be able to course correct and change tack.

Be innovative and creative in getting in front of a diverse audience. If you are not targeting potential candidates and employees via TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram advertising then you are missing out – that is where the best of your competitors are sourcing.

Show your potential candidates that they can see themselves represented in your organisation and aspire to be part of this new career path. And next time you hear someone say “These candidates are hard to reach”, simply say “Well, you must reach harder and smarter”.

Joanne Lockwood (she/her) is an inclusion and belonging specialist with SEE Change Happen

Originally published in The Herald Scotland

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About the author

Joanne Lockwood administrator

SEE Change Happen: Transgender Awareness & Inclusion