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How to recruit a diverse workforce

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BP is a global company, employing around 80,000 people with operations in over 70 countries. With size comes responsibility. At BP we believe that there is a need to build and maintain a workforce representative of the societies in which we operate.

Influx of change

We work to attract, motivate, develop and retain the best talent – our ability to be competitive and to thrive globally depends on it. 

In our view, there are four key elements which are key to ensuring balance and diversity within our recruitment strategy. These are: tackling unconscious bias; fostering a culture of respect; offering flexible working; and commitment from business leaders to meeting diversity targets.

At BP, we recognise that one of the barriers standing in the way of recruiting a diverse workforce is the concept of unconscious bias. It is difficult to tackle because it’s an inherent trait within human beings and it is not something that is physically discernible or tangible. That said, there have been many studies into the negative impact of unconscious bias, especially as it pertains to recruitment. At BP we have taken steps to try to understand and raise awareness of unconscious bias not just among those responsible for recruitment, but within the organisation as a whole.  

Recruit a diverse workforce

Indeed, one way in which we are tacking unconscious bias is by placing respect at the heart of our culture, in terms of the way we treat our colleagues. We believe it is particularly important to respect people’s differences, and value their contributions equally regardless of gender, race, sexuality, or any other differentiator. It is this respect for others that allows us to create an inclusive working environment where everyone can make a difference and give their best. A strong working culture which enables different generational, cultural and personality styles to flourish is imperative.

This idea that everybody is different is key. Inevitably, at a large organisation like BP, employing thousands of people, we have a keen understanding of the fact that everybody has their own unique needs, priorities and goals. Being mindful of our employees’ other priorities in life, one such example being working parents, we have made flexible working a key part of our offering. We have built a working environment that fits around the employee’s lifestyle and accommodates their needs, and we believe this helps in retaining a diverse workforce as it helps us limit the loss of talented people who leave for circumstantial reasons.

Last but not least, it’s imperative to have buy-in and commitment to diversity at the very top levels of the organisation, in order to allow this to filter down. While we don’t necessarily advocate quotas, we believe in setting measurable diversity goals, which we have done for our business. For example, we have the ambition of achieving 30% female senior leadership by 2020 and we continue to make solid progress towards this. 

The responsibility for recruiting a diverse workforce lies not just with HR, but with the organisation’s culture and policies. It’s not about recruiting people who can adapt to fit your mould, it’s about adapting the organisation to ensure it is well-equipped to foster and harness the potential that a diverse workforce provides.

Julia  Harvie-Liddel

By Julia Harvie-Liddel

Julia is the group head of resourcing at BP

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