How can we create a diverse and inclusive workforce for our new graduates?

This week Global Women hosted the National Centre for Lifecourse Researchteam at our Auckland diversity and inclusion (D&I) MeetUp event, to share an inside view on our diverse range of graduates here in New Zealand. This was a first snapshot of a hugely important set of data which will emerge over coming years.

The Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand (GLSNZ) was launched in 2011 tracking almost 9,000 students across New Zealand, and is the most comprehensive study of its kind. Now in its fourth year of implementation, it aims to identify the factors that make New Zealand graduates successful.

Download the presentation and figures here, presented by Dr Mele Taumoepeau, Dr Moana Theodore and Dr. Karen Tustin.

Valuable insight: first in family

One highlight was the insight that Maori and Pasifika are more likely than other groups to be the first person in their families to attend university.

“This means they don’t have the accumulated experience of family, or access to role models to see what they did to persist in the university environment – so it’s easy for these students to not complete their studies,” says Taumoepeau.
“They also miss out on guidance as to what subject to choose.”

Global Women’s D&I consultant Justine Munro says this finding shows how important it is for businesses to assist with high school recruitment, to catch these students before they choose to opt out of university.

“This sense of being first in family also impacts their knowledge of how to access employment later on. How can we, as businesses and institutes, show them a potential career trajectory?” says Munro.

Children on the scene

Another consideration to come out of the study is that one-third of Maori graduates are parents, compared with one-fifth of non-Maori.

Munro says that by the time they’re seeking employment, these parents may not have had the range of voluntary experience on their CVs that other graduates may have, because of time commitments or financial constraints.

“Perhaps we should interpret their CV in different ways – for example, have they shown leadership in a different way? And in terms of recruiting strategies, maybe they can’t make it to your pizza recruitment function at 5.30pm on the university quad. So ask yourself, can you attract older people with family with your function?”

Looking beyond the business recruitment pool

The need for recruiting nimble graduates to business from outside fields also came through strongly – the study revealed that female graduates are more likely to aspire to enter the education/medical workforces, whereas men are likely go for sciences/government/academia. Maori were more likely to head into education and humanities/arts/social sciences areas, and Pasifika into law (where there has been a concerted effort for recruitment) and humanities/arts/social sciences.

Munro says we need to ask ourselves how we are enabling people with diverse backgrounds – such as health science – come into business.

“Are we looking for diversity, or are we just using the regular channels?”