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A New Practical Guide to Open Recruitment

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

The best talent often comes from the most unexpected places, and to find the best people, I believe you have to recruit with an open mind. We are proud to celebrate the launch of Reciprocate’s first Open Recruitment Handbook which Allen Associates helped to produce in partnership with Aspire Oxford.

Here at Allen Associates we put a strong emphasis on community engagement and support; it’s a big part of who we are and what we stand for. For the past two years, The Ley Community – a hugely successful residential recovery programme for those battling to overcome addiction which is based in Yarnton, near Oxford – has been one of our chosen charities. Through this partnership, I have seen first-hand how meaningful work can positively impact recovery. I was keen to find out more about the impact that this approach could have on a wider level, for both society and business.

So, when I was approached by the outgoing Chair of responsible business networking group Reciprocate, Tony Stratton, to get involved in creating a handbook all about open and inclusive recruitment, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.   

The team that made it a reality
Reciprocate is made up of like-minded businesses from across Oxfordshire who are committed to collaborating to support the local community more effectively, taking a proactive approach to addressing social problems. They were the driving force behind the creation of this guide, working alongside employment charity, Aspire Oxford, with input from me and my team.

Established in 2001, Aspire runs its own social businesses offering professional facilities management services to local councils, blue-chip corporates, academic institutions and private customers. Their employees mostly come from disadvantaged backgrounds and include ex-offenders, those that have been homeless or suffered in the past with drug or alcohol addictions.

We have been admirers of Aspire’s work for quite some time, and have the utmost respect for the difference they make to people and businesses. The Open Recruitment Handbook is all about empowering employers to be inclusive and open-minded in their approach and offer the same opportunities to all candidates, regardless of where they have come from.

The handbook, available to download here, is focussed on sharing advice and guidance about how to support and recruit ex-offenders, young people not in education or training (NEET), homeless people and single parents.

It also signposts additional information for enabling opportunities aimed at those who are ex-military, refugees, have mental health issues or learning disabilities.

My role was to research and assess the social and business benefits of adopting an open and inclusive recruitment policy, and I soon learnt that there are many. The fact is that in today’s tough labour market, we simply can’t afford to ignore large groups of potential workers - not to mention the responsibility we have as a community to ensure equal opportunities regardless of background or situation.

But a huge part of this is educating employers on why it is beneficial to their business and what steps they can take to adopt a more open recruitment policy.

The future of recruitment
We have been working with employers across Oxfordshire for nearly 20 years and I can honestly say that the best talent often comes from the most unexpected places. Having an open mind and an open door will have a tremendous positive impact on a business.

This handbook is just a starting point and I hope that by working with Aspire and Reciprocate, we are able to explore the issues further. I would like to encourage the Oxfordshire business community to look at recruitment through new eyes, share their experiences and come forward with their stories.

But most of all, I’d love to see employers and their HR teams become really committed to making the vision of open and inclusive recruitment a reality for everyone.

Find out how you can join the growing number of businesses who are part of the Reciprocate group.