Talent Innovators: Joanne Zadro, Talent Acquisition Manager at Schroders, talks about her proudest talent project

Schroders is a world-class asset manager, operating from 35 locations globally and employing over 5,000 people. Its purpose is to build a better future by investing responsibly for clients and is committed to doing the right thing and delivering positive outcomes for its people and wider society.  Joanne Zadro, Talent Acquisition Manager at Schroders, tells us why their early careers talent acquisition strategy and process stands out from the crowd.

What talent project are you most proud of?

It would have to be our new early careers talent acquisition strategy and process.

At Schroders, taking a long-term view is at the core of our philosophy. With this in mind, we wanted to define and implement an early careers talent strategy underpinned by fairness, opportunity and inclusion. We also wanted an integrated process, and one which is engaging and fresh for candidates. As part of their application journey, we want them to find things out about the role and our business, but also themselves. Above all, our aim is to attract and embrace a diverse workforce which adds new perspectives and experience to our organisation.

To achieve our goals, we partnered with Aon’s Assessment Solutions. This partnership has revolutionised our early talent hiring and selection process across our global locations.

We knew our bias-free assessment process needed to be something our school leaver, apprenticeship, interns and graduate programme candidates would engage with.

 

Can you outline the project?

Our early careers talent acquisition programme now utilizes assessment technology and tools. Candidates are screened after the initial registration to see if they are a suitable match for our company culture and expectations. Successful candidates then undertake online assessments – a behavioural questionnaire measuring values, a chat-based situational judgement questionnaire and a logical reasoning ability assessment. These can be completed on a mobile phone and are designed to be short and engaging.

The next stage is a video interview which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to assess against Schroders’ values. Shortlisted candidates then progress to an assessment centre – customised for each of our early careers programmes.

 

What has the project achieved?

I think winning The Excellence in Applying Innovative Technology in Business Psychology category at the Association of Business Psychology Workforce Experience Awards in the summer of 2020 really brought home our achievements. This is a tough awards programme to apply for and requires extensive evidence, so it was great that our programme was recognised.

The use of AI alone to assist with the shortlisting of video interviews saves internal recruiter time before hiring managers make their final selection decisions.

One of the achievements we are most proud of is rising to the challenge of hiring diversely, to ensure we have a strong representation of under-represented groups. Each hiring stage supports this aim, and we now screen without any adverse impact on gender, ethnic minorities or socioeconomics.

We have had some much great feedback from hiring managers. We’ve taken this on board and improved the depth and rigour of assessments and managers now receive a bespoke report which shows how candidates are likely to fit with their team. Candidates too are pleased. We have a 97% completion rate, as well as an overall Net Promoter Score of 81, which is outstanding.  We continually monitor our performance and have created more reports to check responses. Achieving high levels of satisfaction is an ongoing process.

We want to live by an excellent talent acquisition process that gives everyone the opportunity to showcase their potential.

In building our new talent acquisition process we have increased our objectivity, reduced unconscious bias, and eliminated adverse impacts. We’re now extending this process for experienced and senior hires.

 

What did you learn?

We learned a lot. First of all, during the procurement process we identified clear objectives in the RFP. This was essential when reviewing the abundance of information from tech companies and potential partners. It stopped us getting blinded by preconceived ideas or sales pitches. Aon ticked all our boxes and our methodology meant everyone involved was happy with the decision.

Using the latest technology – in this case artificial intelligence with video interviewing – we were incredibly aware of the need to explore any differences between ratings given by the new system and those given by our recruiters. To manage this, the first cohort of interviews were rated both by trained hiring managers and scored in the background by expert-trained AI, to judge the effectiveness of the AI. This process enabled us to remove even more bias from the selection process, providing an objective way to gauge interviewee performance. Proper testing was essential. We wanted to make sure the AI worked effectively before we put it into action.

Alongside the technology, we learned about the importance of data analysis and the validity and robustness of the data we are gathering.  It’s made us feel very confident and proud of our best-practice assessments, as data is used every step of the way. The involvement of one of our chief data scientists in the project gave us extra reassurance too.

We learned that putting candidates at the heart of this process is essential.

We also learned that the ‘end product’ isn’t actually the end. We’re enjoying the journey and now have an early careers process that we continually monitor and refine. We’re proud of how robust it is, yet always checking to see if there are any improvements we can make.

Finally, keeping ahead of the curve is vital. The financial services industry is taking steps to break down diversity barriers – but being mainstream is not what we want. We want to move ahead and stand out with our talent assessments for all the right reasons.

 


This is the fourth in a series of profiles on talent innovators. Read the others – Serco, Ocado and Siemens Energy – and watch out for more.

 

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