In March, I was fortunate enough to be voted in as Exeter Entrepreneurs Society’s next president. The second largest society on campus employs an unusual business model. Thanks to its free membership, it relies on sponsorship from companies interested in promoting their brand to members. I have found attracting sponsorship to be one of the most challenging, yet crucial roles within the society.
Many of the potential sponsors I approached are industry leaders in fields such as consulting and finance, looking to benefit from the relationship through marketing their graduate positions to the society’s members. When courting these sponsors, I was surprised to learn how highly they valued the society’s diversity statistics compared to a wide variety of other indicators. The reasons for this interest likely lie beyond simply challenging any suggestions of ethnocentrism within a company’s recruitment team.
Some of the more obvious reasons lie within the fact that the companies can directly financially benefit from hiring diversely. For example, it has been shown that typically, the financial success of a company improves when the employees demographically represent their customers (Daft, 2009) (Wheeler, 2005). To appeal to these desires, I worked hard to promote the society’s diverse demographic statistics, whilst highlighting women-only coding courses I had previously run within the society, promoting gender equality.
I discovered however, that the answers I gave were not always sufficient. Having researched diversity for this module, I would suggest that one key reason for this is that recruiters are now more aware of the need to not just meet demographic diversity quotas, but also consider the need for cognitive diversity within their organisation (Oshiotse & O’Leary, 2007). This type of diversity can have a huge impact on providing beneficially contrasting styles within the workplace, leading to superior results.