Why Diversity in Graduate Recruitment Matters

Diversity in Graduate Recruitment

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is ever increasingly a priority in companies worldwide. With research demonstrating time and again that more diverse work forces function more efficiently, creatively, and overall more successfully, this is hardly surprising. “[R]esearch finds that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. Companies in the bottom quartile in these dimensions are statistically less likely to achieve above-average returns”. Sanctuary Graduates has responded to this and is an expert in achieving diversity in graduate recruitment. 

Companies globally are questioning how they can improve their recruitment processes to ensure D&I for reasons varying from comfortable work environments for employees, to statistically better functioning. In this article, we will be discussing the varying reasons that D&I matter as well as how you can achieve your D&I goals with Sanctuary Graduates.

Women in Industry

Despite decades of work towards achieving gender diversity in the workplace, one still sees a woeful underrepresentation of women across industries. Only 3% of women are pursuing careers in tech as a first choice, and just 23% of STEM roles are held by women

But why does this matter? Firstly, research shows girls consistently outperforming boys in STEM subjects throughout school. However, surveys have suggested that due to lack of role models, and thus self-assurance of ability, women do not pursue careers in these industries. As such, from a purely capability-centric mentality, improving diversity in your workplace to encourage female applicants will provide for a more capable workforce.


One more predominantly observes the benefits of gender diversity in countries where gender diversity is viewed as “normatively” accepted. Professor Zhang of Harvard Business School found a direct correlation between more productive companies (as measured by market value and revenue) and higher rates of gender diversity in societies where this is “normatively” accepted. 

As such, one can see direct benefits to gender diversity, as well as it’s valuation by talent continuing to climb. For example, Glassdoor found that 67% of job seekers identified workforce diversity when considering offers. This was particularly so for top female candidates, thus demonstrating increased awareness, and how top talent is drawn to a more diverse environment. Thus, diversity in graduate recruitment processes can only serve to improve a companies processes.

BAME in Industry

One does not only see the benefits of gender diversity, one can also see the importance of diversity when it comes to the BAME diversity in an organisation. Arguments have been made that a lack of diversity in management roles contributes to ineffective management, costing the UK £19 billion due to lost working hours. 

With 14% of the population in the UK identifying as non-white, the lack of BAME diversity is surprising. While one sees predictions that this non-white population will rise to 20% in the next ten years, the number of BAME CEO’s has remained at 4% since 2015. 

This lack of representation in senior roles has been attributed to lower applications for similar roles, career progression and more. As such, in order to tackle this, companies need to tailor their recruitment processes and work environments to encourage a more diverse workforce. 

The initial, clear benefit of such diversification is that as target markets and societies become more diverse, so should one’s workforce in order to best reflect this and develop strategies that will engage such target audiences. By achieving this diverse, reflective workforce, companies have demonstrated a greater ability to create better products and services due to common experiences with end users

Further benefits of such reflection and reaction to this need for BAME diversity can be seen throughout various case studies. These studies demonstrate that increased BAME diversity directly impacts productivity, growth, and graduate retention. 

This is by no means a small task, and needs to be felt at all levels. By creating an environment that makes a diverse workforce comfortable sharing ideas with one another, and actively encouraging diverse applicants from graduate level upwards, companies see the aforementioned benefits. Companies have also seen an increase in creativity and innovation that, if acted upon can result in a more innovative company overall. This does not need to only be in senior positions to affect change, but needs to be felt at all levels to make an impact culturally in an organisation. As such, improving diversity in graduate recruitment practices is essential to achieving the aforementioned diverse culture for a more successful work environment.

LGBTQIA+ in Industry

Similar trends can be seen when it comes to LGBTQIA+ diversity in the workplace. A case study in the US suggests that the US economy could benefit by $9 billion USD annually if organisations were more effective in their implementation of diversity and inclusion policies for LGBT employees. 

LGBT diversity in graduate recruitment and business

One sees a trend in the LGBTQIA+ community of brand loyalty to businesses that support LGBTQIA+ initiatives, and reach out to and engage with the community. As with any aspect of improved diversity in the workplace, the obvious way to best engage such audiences is with a workforce with shared experiences. Further, with new talent bringing fresh ideas to businesses, one sees an obvious benefit to improving LGBTQIA+ diversity. Supporting a work environment and recruitment process that reaches out to this ever growing, talent-rich demographic will undoubtedly widen the potential pool of strong candidates.

One can therefore see that promoting diversity in various areas can: Improve your employer brand encouraging wider pools of applicants; increase creativity; encourage internal growth; and develop independent thinking in workers. While this is great, this process is not a simple fix, and this is where Sanctuary Graduates’ expertise comes into play aiding in improving diversity in graduate recruitment for your business. 

Sanctuary Graduates’ Approach

Ensuring D&I in early careers recruitment is now one of the primary concerns amongst almost all large graduate employers. Some firms have always taken it seriously for reasons of business expedience. Indeed, when Sanctuary Graduates first started life in 2010, our first brief was to use our campus networks to deliver all-female shortlists for a Scotland-based asset manager. Cognitive diversity was the key to making sound long term investments, and a mostly male work force wasn’t conducive to success in that regard. However, it is now front, left and centre of all the graduate recruitment strategies we build and execute. Broadly our work breaks down into two elements: 1. Ensuring there are diverse applications through careful targeted attraction, and 2. Ensuring the recruitment process is inclusive and supportive so the students you’ve worked so hard to attract don’t fall out of the process. 


Our approach to attraction is to ensure a healthy, diverse pipeline of candidates are applying. Sanctuary Graduates’ USP is the campus networks we’ve built at universities across Europe, and we’ve been careful to ensure these reflect the diversity of each campus. These are principally: 

  1. Relationships with the most diverse universities; 
  2. Access to the most diverse academic subjects; 
  3. Sponsorship of female only and diverse societies (ACS; Women-in etc); 
  4. Diverse network of brand ambassadors and student headhunters; 
  5. A diverse database of talent (160,000 current students and recent graduates; 48% female; 28% BAME)


Once you’ve attracted your diverse  talent, only half the battle is won. Students from a disadvantaged background are by definition not operating on a level playing field with others and many require intensive support to give them an even chance of competing for roles in elite industries. 

Our work with our partner the Social Mobility Foundation has put this truism in sharp focus. We run workshops and mock assessment centres for their students to give them the practical skills and assets to marry with their potential in order to give them a chance of achieving their career goals. For many students, such support and guidance is the key to their success, and often it is the first time they’ve received any formal careers guidance in their lives. It is no use attracting diverse, young talent if we don’t then invest in them. Thankfully, this is now widely accepted in our industry, and there has never been more support available to those who haven’t had a head start in life. Careers services are getting much better in many cases in visibly offering support, and organisations like our partner the SMF are changing lives every day. 

How Can you Get Involved?

Sanctuary Graduates is an expert in graduate recruitment, helping our clients achieve a more diverse pool of talent to apply be they female, BAME, from a less economically advantaged background and more. As such, recruitment solutions can be tailored as per your companies needs so do get in touch to discuss potential collaborations with us in your recruitment processes. 

Do stay tuned for our article next week detailing the importance of tailoring your recruitment process to graduates from less economically advantaged backgrounds. We will be discussing the unique talent you can find in this demographic, how tailoring your approach will benefit your business, and how you can get involved with our partner, the SMF.

Do you have any questions or thoughts on this article? Is there something you would like us to delve into in more depth in our future posts? Let us know in the comments and take a look at our other posts on our blog and website!