Student Perspective: Why it’s important to have leaders that look like me

Adelin Mihalcea is a Year 13 student from Middlesex.

He recently took part in the Institute of Student Employers first D&I Conference on behalf of the careers platform, Springpod. 

During the session, Adelin was able to share his views on what students want from employers as part of a diverse student panel.

Read on to hear why Adelin believes it is important to have leaders that look like him.

Diversity and inclusion metrics are growth factors that students like me and other candidates look at when choosing an employer. Coming from various social backgrounds and ethnicities, we live in an increasingly diverse society; and I believe that our work place is most comfortable when it is representative. Diversity includes race, gender and ethnicity, but it also includes age, religion, disability and sexual orientation - when looking at our workplaces, we need to consider it all. 

No one wants to work in an environment where they feel unwelcomed or signalled-out based on their background, gender or ethnicity. When deciding whether a firm is right for me, I research their diversity reports as it helps put into perspective how welcoming and inclusive they are. Feeling included and being a part of a diverse workforce is high on my list of employer must-haves. 

You can hear more from Adelin and the Springpod student panel in our on-demand webinar recording, click here

Fortunately, most firms are increasing their diversity levels; however, increased diversity doesn't necessarily equate to 'inclusivity'. Employers mustn't just hire more diverse individuals to meet quotas - this one-note approach ignores skill sets and expertise. Individuals have no control over how diverse they are; however, they can control their work ethic, grades and what they achieve, and this is what employers should be looking at. 

Having said that, employers should also keep in mind that some may not have the same level of access to opportunities and should consider this when making a decision; a great example of this is how universities give out contextual offers to individuals from an under-represented background.


                                              [Springpod 2021 Diversity & Inclusion Survey on 3,100 Students]

Another factor that unfortunately still exists is employer bias/discrimination. This is a known issue that many students fear when applying for a job, especially in an industry dominated by a particular gender or ethnicity. Employers should understand these fears and aim to mitigate bias as much as possible through the use of blind interviews, text-based questions rather than cover letters and similar tactics aimed at reducing bias. Diversity and inclusion also benefits firms at a commercial level, consumers have more choice and power than ever before and they’re using it to make ethically responsible decisions. If firms have a poor track record when it comes to diversity and inclusion it may affect their goodwill. 

                                                 [Springpod 2021 Diversity & Inclusion Survey on 3,100 Students]


Additionally, having a diverse workforce is not enough to justify that the firm is genuinely diverse. Showcasing D&I metrics when all these individuals are at the same level means a lack of diversity. If diversity is not happening at all levels, who is it benefitting? Having a percentage of diverse individuals represented throughout the entire corporate structure ranging from top positions to lower entry-level positions is how real diversity and inclusion come about. 

Showing diverse individuals in top positions gives a blueprint of success to others. It's motivating to see diverse people at the top because it shows that if you work hard and continue to pursue your goals, you'll be recognised and rewarded. In essence, diversity and inclusion are important factors that employers need to consider within their recruitment process to give everyone fair and equal access to opportunities. 


Download our free "Diversity & Inclusion" Report for Employers.

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