University’s Careers and Employability team recognised with national awards

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The Careers and Employability team at the University of Chester has been recognised with awards for its innovative work to promote equality, diversity and inclusion.

At the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Service’s (AGCAS) Awards for Excellence, Adam Crane from the University won the prestigious Outstanding Contribution Award for his impact on student and graduate employability. The judges highlighted his work to ensure fairness in recruitment to workplace experiences, improving opportunities for students to develop knowledge, skills and build confidence in a working environment. The Award also acknowledged his overall contribution to employability through his role as Employer Engagement Coordinator.

Adam was commended for putting students and graduates at the heart of everything he does and his passionate commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. The judges applauded “the breadth of impact his work has had on his service”.

Adam, who has just started a new role as Access and Participation Projects Manager, said: “When it comes to equality, diversity and inclusivity we have to take bold steps. University and the activities students can benefit from, both in and out of the curriculum, can be life changing and open up opportunities that some of those students thought were closed to them. This is why as a university we have to lead from the front on transformational change, to further promote equality and help shape a future of equity for all.”

At the same online event on June 22, the Careers and Employability team reached the final shortlist in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion category for their work around anonymised recruitment to workplace experiences.

The next day brought further success at the Levelling Up Universities Awards which recognise those Higher Education Institutions and their staff that are committed to boosting social mobility and improving equality of opportunity. Hosted by the Rt Hon Justine Greening, the former Secretary of State for Education, Careers and Employability won the Award for Right Advice and Experience for its anonymised recruitment initiative.

Anonymised Recruitment saw a move away from using a traditional CV and cover letter recruitment process to an anonymous application process that puts “what a student can do now and how they can develop” above “who they are and what they have done”. This was part of a move to eradicate unconscious bias which then led to engagement by some of the University’s most under-represented students increase for applications and for those who were appointed to workplace experiences from under 20% to almost 60%. One student described it as “a fantastic opportunity to showcase your skills and to be judged on them, rather than who you are”.

Christine Lawlan, Careers and Employability’s Employer Engagement Assistant for Placements said: “We have seen the impact on students and graduates of an equality, diversity and inclusion-focused recruitment process and now we are starting to see how it is positively impacting local, regional and national employers who have embraced this and are now seeing the benefits of a truly diverse work community in their businesses.”

One employer demonstrated this by explaining: “Anonymous applications allowed me, as an employer, to make judgements based on the key elements of the application that matter to us as a company. I believe that regardless of how hard you try, it’s impossible to avoid subconscious bias or overcompensation in the efforts to avoid bias. The anonymous application removed this as a thought process and ensured we chose our candidate without the process being impacted by bias.”

After the online ceremony, Rt Hon Justine Greening, Chair of the Purpose Coalition which runs the Awards, said: “The Higher Education Institutions recognised in the Levelling Up Universities Awards 2022 are spreading opportunity to people and places where it can make the biggest difference and breaking the cycle of Britain’s endemic poor social mobility. I’d like to say a huge congratulations to all our winners and thank them for leading the way on levelling up.”

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