Embrace rising talent and attract a diverse workforce

Leigh Lafever-Ayer, HR Director, UK and Ireland at Enterprise Holdings highlights the importance of hiring diverse talent to create an inclusive workplace. Leigh is presenting at the CIPD Diversity and Inclusion Conference which takes place on 15 May 2019 in London. Book your ticket today.

In my role, I am often asked how to get diversity firmly on the business agenda and specifically how to encourage a more diverse workforce. At Enterprise Rent-A-Car, diversity and inclusion is a critical part of our cultural compass, but like most organisations, we are on a journey.

Today, we are in more than 470 locations in the UK. It is key that we mirror and strengthen the communities we serve. One of our values states ‘Our doors are open’. Everyone that touches the Enterprise family needs to feel like they belong. From employees to customers to business partners, we embrace the differences that make us successful and unique… this starts with attracting diverse talent.

As a large graduate recruiter, we hired graduates from over 100 universities within the UK in the last year. It is difficult to be inclusive if you only hire from a handful of Russell Group universities, so we widen our approach. This also applies with internship and apprenticeship roles. Our promote-from-within policy means it is important that we get this step right, as who we hire now will directly impact the diversity of our workforce in the years to come. Graduate recruiters also need to consider if they really need a first-class degree or even a 2:1. This has never been a role requirement at our company, and because of this, we have benefited from attracting a lot of great talent that is so often left behind. Consider whether this requirement is being used a sifting tool or whether it really is necessary for the job.

Measuring all aspects of data around diversity and inclusion is important. It is fundamental that businesses have a good applicant tracking system (ATS) or HR system that can support strategic measurement of employee data.

For example, I know from our data that:


  • 60% of hires last year were from a lower socio-economic background.  This means that they were the first in their family to go to university or that these hires had free school meals.
  • 356 graduates hired last year were from an ethnic minority background.
  • 18% of our managers are from an ethnic minority background.


The reason that most of our employees feel comfortable sharing their data with us is that they understand why we want this data: to improve the quality of our workplace and make it more inclusive. We are clear about how we communicate this, starting with our values.

Businesses need to have sustainable, strategic plans to not only attract diverse talent but to encourage talent in the promotion process. In the most recent Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work survey, 70% of BAME participants said that progression in the workplace is important to them, compared to 42% of white participants.

The best place for us to demonstrate progression is with our own employees. We showcase many employees in our recruitment campaigns and recognise employees for their accomplishments. For example, we have many employees involved in the BITC BAME mentoring circles as mentors and mentees, and we’re proud to have had several women shortlisted in the Asian Women of Achievement (AWA) Awards, including one winner in recent years.

Diversity and inclusion isn’t just a human resource strategy, it is a business strategy. It is essential to your customers and to your employees.



Leigh is presenting the keynote session titled “increasing diversity: how to attract and encourage a more diverse workforce” at the CIPD Diversity and Inclusion Conference which takes place on 15 May 2019 in London. Book your ticket today.