Widen recruitment practices says Finning HR director

By Chris Sleight02 June 2009

Mike Davies, human resources director at Finning UK, owner of rental company Hewden.

Mike Davies, human resources director at Finning UK, owner of rental company Hewden.

Rental companies recruit from too small a group of people and so exclude some of the most talented individuals in society. This was the message from Mike Davies, human resources director of Finning UK (which owns Hewden), at the European Rental Association's annual convention in Manchester on 26-27 May.

A culture where new staff are found by informal "word of mouth" methods, and what one member of the audience dubbed the rental industry's "incestuous nature" were two of the key reasons why Mr Davies felt rental remains an industry dominated by white men.

"In many cases we recruit in our own image," he said. "You will often exclude a great mass of the population because of that."

Far from advocating diversity for diversity's sake, or positive discrimination policies, Mr Davies argued there was a strong business case for re-thinking the recruitment policy. Citing one example he said, "There are proportionately more people with a degree from ethnic minorities in the UK than white people."

Mr Davies continued, "I firmly believe talent is the scarcest resource. If you're only recruiting from 20% to 40% of the available workforce, you're just kidding yourself. It is a blindingly stupid thing to do."

In terms of practical steps, Mr Davies suggested a range of measures that could be effective. The first was to invest more in the recruitment process and focus on attitude and potential rather than simply industry experience.

Other positive measures include investing in management training, being as fair and transparent on pay and benefits as possible - posting pay grades on an Intranet for example - and taking a zero tolerance stance on racism and sexism, particularly via e-mail and the Internet.

Read more reports from the ERA Convention in the JUne issue of IRN.

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