Superdiversity for the Supercity: recruitment evolving for the future

Amanda Tolley knows all about winning awards. As Group Talent & Organisational Development Manager with SKYCITY Entertainment Group she has tucked a few under her belt in recent years.

SKYCITY was named Auckland Youth Employer for the Year in 2016 and the Innovative Youth Employment category the previous year. In 2017 the group won Platinum Awards for both Best Behavioural Change Project and Best Blended Learning Programme in the LearnX Impact Awards.

Under Tolley’s watch SKYCITY has been a leading light in the Sustainable Business Council’s Welfare to Work programme, which aims to break the intergenerational welfare dependence cycle by increasing opportunities for young, sole parents. It’s a win/win for the company, which wanted to find a way to broaden its support for the communities it operates within whilst encouraging more young people to rethink hospitality careers.

Tolley started her career in recruitment and subsequently moved into a broader HR remit. Her current role straddles talent management and organisational development. The scope covers everything from leadership capability to recruitment strategy, internal talent management and retention. And she has a special interest in diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Innovation key to SARA success

As a former recruiter herself who now partners with recruitment agencies, Tolley has a keen eye for best practice and knows what to look for in SARA entries.

Innovation, she says, for recruiters, means “doing things differently for the right reasons and outcomes”. “It’s more than just embracing new technology. It’s about thinking ahead, being strategic about what’s happening in the economy and future trends then adapting your business.”

Tolley will be looking at the entries for evidence of the impact of initiatives. These could include technology enhancements, development of talent pools, diversity and inclusiveness initiatives, and innovative approaches to tacking youth unemployment, or other under-represented cohorts. All are major trends impacting the employment market in New Zealand, which recruiters must evolve to tackle.

Being based in Auckland, a city growing in cultural diversity, Tolley will be looking for strategic thinking by agencies around the changes taking place in their employment markets and how their recruiters are adapting to those changes.

She remembers one agency claiming it had such a diverse workforce itself based on gender that it didn’t need to do things differently. “That shows a real lack of strategic insight into the changing employment market and therefore innovation in my view” she says. Instead she’s looking for detail in the agencies’ portfolios that demonstrate applying innovations such as human centred design thinking.

She also wants to know what innovations agencies are making to make themselves “millennial ready”.

Tackling unconscious bias

There has been some real innovation in recruitment in New Zealand of late. Tolley recalls the example of Fletcher Building, which moved to ‘blind recruitment’ by removing names, photos, contact details and other identifiers from graduate applications to eliminate unconscious bias. Recruiters could be equally innovative in the makeup of their own businesses, Tolley says. “I would like to see agencies being as innovative as some of their internal counterparts,”

The SARA awards to Tolley are more than just recognising talent in the industry. “As recruiter myself I believe recruitment is a genuine profession and I am incredibly proud to be part of it. Recruitment used to be seen as a step to HR but I believe it is now a specialist career in its own right.” She finds it heartening to know there is such talent and innovation in the industry and values any opportunity and occasions where recruiters can get together to celebrate their success and their peers.

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Diana Clement

Freelance journalist Diana Clement specialises in writing careers, business, personal finance, investment and related topics such as savvy spending. Over the past decade Diana has written for the New Zealand Herald, as well as personal finance and...

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