In a world that is becoming increasingly digital and is experiencing the rise of AI, human skills, like communication, are becoming even more important. This is especially true in the recruitment industry, where human interaction and understanding are at the heart of its work.
Dan Taylor, Managing Director of Morgan Hunt, met with Co-host of The Interview, Luke James, to discuss his career, how he embeds a culture of inclusion and belonging in his organisation, and the importance of good recruitment.
My name is Dan Taylor, and I’m the Managing Director of Morgan Hunt. Morgan Hunt is a recruitment business coming up to its 30th anniversary. It started off as an executive search fund for the investment banking world, and was particularly successful at moving people from the London market to the Moscow market. By unusual means, it morphed into a public sector business, and now 90% of the work we do is in the non-profit space, largely around further education, NHS, social housing and care.
My introduction to recruitment started in 1996, where an old friend of mine said I would be great at it. So I went for an interview, and got it. In ‘96, recruitment was not the size and scale that it is now. I was lucky to get in at that stage and start building a career with the organisation now known as Hays. I worked there for 15 years, then worked for a few organisations that helped me sharpen my skills. I found Morgan Hunt almost ten years ago. I had had a year working underneath my predecessor in this role, before she retired and I took it on.
This is so important. You know the difficulty in recruitment at the moment is not the number of jobs, it’s the number of candidates who can successfully perform in those roles. Morgan Hunt has a social conscience, and the people who work for us want to do the right thing for our end user. It could be a student, it could be a homeless person in care, recovering from addiction. So we recognise the importance of finding the right people to do those roles.
Particularly through our work in further education, we came across the Black Leadership Group, who we now have a great partnership with. There are some horrific stats in terms of ethnic representation in leadership posts. Bearing in mind that 25% of all students come from an ethnic minority background — currently, Black employees in leadership positions in the private sector is at 1.5%, and in the public sector, is only 1%. There is a real problem there. If you look at some of the students in those colleges, if you can’t see it, how can you be it?
In recruitment, if your pipeline isn’t appropriate, you have a real problem. Recruitment is still pretty Neanderthal in that it mainly relies on the bias of the individuals interviewing people. If you look at the key steps of recruiting an individual, you have a CV, to which loads of biases can be applied to. A CV is a mirror—it just reflects what we’ve done, not what we can do. And then the interview process: most decisions are made within three minutes of an interview. We are in a multicultural society, so this is tragic for building diverse bodies of individuals in organisations. I am conscious of who I am as a white, fifty-something male, and know that I need to surround myself with people who have different backgrounds, views and ideas.
Embedding the philosophy of inclusivity and belonging in an organisation starts with recruitment.
The way we ensure this is through our recruitment process. Culturally, we are trying to align people into our organisation who fit with our values. Most people have had a bad job, and life is a misery going through that process, you come out of it feeling beat up. At the same time, if you look at what happens to you when you’re employed in a good job—you’re motivated, fun to be around, excited and interested. In order for that change to happen, a recruitment consultant needs to do their job well. Our company’s mantra is about inspiring working lives.
We run four key streams across the business which deal with things on top of day jobs, one of which deals with inclusion and belonging. We also spend a lot of time talking to our management teams to ensure that these ideas are embedded, and calling out malpractice whenever it arises. That is the key thing—having open conversations about things. We also need to be realistic. Modern life is hectic at the best of times. We must ensure that our staff have good well-being, recognise poor behaviour and look after themselves. It bleeds into the work they do.
I think first of all, we are all operating in a really dynamic environment. When I first started my career in the late 90s, up and down periods were stretched over months to years. But now, our environment is constantly changing. It’s incomprehensible. We must constantly be adaptable and flexible, so we’re open to what’s around the corner. One eye on the future.
In terms of learning, the time has come that everyone must be responsible for their own learning. The skillset that my career was built on, a lot of it is still important, but there are also so many new things coming in constantly. We have to have awareness of that and do something about it. The great thing is that there are podcasts, videos, and online training platforms that we can tune in to while doing other things. Learning is accessible.
At the same time, as an organisation, there are key things that are important to us. We run all kinds of different training programmes. But also, I like to think that anyone can approach me with a problem asking for help. People like me need to be accessible, so we can talk through our challenges and experiences and give advice.
My industry is all about communication. Unlike if you’re selling something specific, in the world of recruitment, ultimately the product we place in front of clients is a human being. People are completely different in different environments. Communication is crucial to this. The willingness to talk to people and engage with somebody is so important. Sometimes, conversations don’t go well, but we need to remember that it isn’t the end of the world. Having an openness to speak and meet with people is truly important.