Breaking into the employer market on behalf of our candidates may sound relatively easy, but in the age of globalisation we’ve been butting our heads against a few unexpected walls.
Exclusivity Clauses in Contracts Between Multinationals
Companies which are global multinational corporates generally have massive contracts for supply of labour or recruitment of staff. Because they operate globally, it’s cheaper for them to contract one provider who is also a multinational, to provide human resources, recruitment and temporary staff. Generally, when a contract is signed between two multinational companies for those services, there is an ‘exclusivity’ clause, meaning that no other recruitment provider can supply candidates or advertise jobs on their behalf.
This presents a bit of a problem for diversity and inclusion in employment, as global companies generally do not include a clause which specifies that candidates must be from diverse backgrounds, like our candidates. This effectively ignores the job seekers who are most disadvantaged in the labour market. Global multinationals do not specialise in diversity, nor negotiate reasonable adjustments or facilitate accessibility arrangements on behalf of candidates.
It also locks out agencies such as ours which do specialise in diversity and inclusion.
No ability for local teams to choose how they want to recruit
Another unfortunate side effect of a global supply contract is that local Australian branches of a multi national may be more enlightened, and want to recruit from a diverse range of candidates, and be ready to offer flexible working and accessibility arrangements, but because of their company’s global policy and exclusive contract with one supplier for staff and labour hire, they cannot recruit through an agency such as ours. They are locked in to a contract which offers no specialisation in candidates from diverse backgrounds.
Outsourcing labour to companies where recognition of diversity is not compliant with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability
Despite the fact that Australia has both signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability, and the Optional Protocol, we have no control over the way a multinational company operates in terms of their compliance with the Convention. Multinational companies operate as a global entity, not subject to anything other than the law of the land in each different country. Let’s face it, businesses aren’t signatories to United Nations conventions, so there’s no obligation other than corporate social responsibility to consider the rights of marginalised workers.
About Psychometric testing …
One of the requirements of most international recruitment companies these days is a standardised psychometric test as part of the interview process. Unfortunately, psychometric testing can and does disadvantage candidates with a disability, as proven in case law in the United Kingdom, and which is specifically targeted in America by the Americans with Disabilities Act to prevent pre-employment bias. Enabled Employment argues strongly with employers to exclude our candidates from the currently popular practice of psychometric testing, as inaccurate results due to anxiety, invisible illness or other disability may be excluding candidates from consideration for employment. In fact, there are many scholarly articles which claim that psychometric testing is not an accurate predictor of performance on the job in any case. So, on top of the fact that smaller specialised agencies such as ours are locked out of multinational contracts, the recruitment practices of the companies in charge of recruitment for those multinational companies are running practices with potential bias against our candidates.
So, who can I speak to about this please?
Unfortunately, there are also technological barriers to finding the right person to speak with about providing quality candidates such as ours when a multinational with a global contract for recruitment services to another multinational uses systems which are fully automated, rather than directing an enquiry to a specific department or person.
Without being able to access the right person at a multinational company, we can’t present our business case and our arguments for diverse workforces and inclusion.
Culture and internal policy and procedures
When a global company outsources recruitment to another global company, recruitment becomes ‘someone else’s’ problem. If I’m working for a multinational, and I need a new staff member, I send an email to the department responsible for engaging new staff, and the process of sourcing appropriate candidates is undertaken by an external recruitment provider. They will source candidates from their database, and present them for consideration. If I am an enlightened manager, I may ask for a candidate that increases my workforce diversity and inclusion, which may draw a blank after all the possible candidates, have been screened by psychometric testing, and I will be presented with candidates who are not representative of a diverse and inclusive workforce. I have no choice except to go with the selection of candidates given, as I can’t contact any other recruitment provider under the terms of the global contract signed by my company.
The result is that my workforce will never truly represent the diversity of the population, and the people disadvantaged by the process will never get a look in. The internal policy of the company may be to encourage diversity, but the candidates I’m presented with won’t represent that diversity, and the workforce remains generic and lacking in difference and my global company will always recruit to a carbon copy of what I already have in my staff.
The middle management pressure point
The culture of an organisation is often set by high ideals, which is a great thing to have. However, high ideals – when talking about inclusion and diversity – may be enshrined in policy and promoted to staff, but the inevitable sticking point is not at management level, it’s at middle management level. The staff squeezed most tightly for time and who manage front line staff and tasks are the ones that will be employing diverse candidates, generally hold a misconception that people with a disability or seniors, carers, indigenous Australians or former service personnel will be ‘too difficult’ to manage given the time pressures middle managers are already under. As a consequence, despite the best intention of management to change organisational culture to become more inclusive, the sticking point becomes the middle management level who are time poor, and hold the misconception that employees with a disability will take more of their time in supervision.
It’s not all bad!
Despite these barriers, it’s really not all bad. There are provisions in some multinational corporate contracts for the inclusion of specialist recruitment providers such as Enabled Employment when the call for tenders goes out. If a corporate entity is serious about inclusion and diversity, they will require any tender for recruitment to include candidates from diverse backgrounds. This means there is a point at which a global recruiter may ask us to become part of the tender process in partnership with them, to provide candidates for roles on a regular basis, meeting the global corporate company’s requirement for a range of candidates with diverse backgrounds.
And that means that the commitment to real diversity in a workforce in at least the Australian arm of a global corporate will become accessible to people with diverse backgrounds, such as our candidates.
We continue to lobby on behalf of our candidates for better and fairer access to recruitment rounds, without psychometric testing, and we are very pleased to be included currently by several multinational companies to ensure our candidates are treated fairly.