Smart moves: Audit balances its graduate recruitment

The Audit Commission is one of Britain's two main public audit bodies. It is also aiming to become one of the accountancy profession's most forward thinking employers in its equal opportunities policies and practices.

About 30 graduates a year are recruited by the Commission, most for accountancy jobs at its District Audit arm, which is responsible for auditing local authorities and the National Health Service trusts.

Graduates are trained in their posts to become accountants, supported in their studies to-wards qualifications under the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy training schemes.

Other graduate recruits go to work at the Commission headquarters at Vincent Square in Westminster, where they analyse information and statistics for the Commission's reports, which publicise best (and worst) practice in the public sector.

District Audit is keen to consider graduates irrespective of their degree subjects while the Commission headquarters looks for those with more "relevant" backgrounds. "We have found no advantage in getting District Audit accountancy trainees with relevant degree subjects - in fact we like to get a good range of backgrounds," says Tessa Lemon, equal opportunities officer at the Commission.

But the Commission is convinced it must diversify its workforce. Specifically, it wants to recruit more ethnic minority graduates. "We are very conscious of our position as a public body which talks about best practice to clients, and of the work that the NHS and local government does in this area," says Ms Lemon. "We want to be among the leaders.

"In the last few years, District Audit has had to focus on market testing - to go out and win work. We have to present a face that reflects the composition of the client itself and their local population. If you are going to make a presentation to a London or a Midlands client, which has a mixed workforce, they are going to want to see people who reflect the make-up of their own workforce and population. And we are very conscious that we are not winning all the staff we would want to."

Ms Lemon concedes that while the Audit Commission has adopted strong equal opportunities policies, at a senior level there are still relatively few ethnic minority staff. "It is much easier to do this at the graduate level," she explains. "Hopefully they are going to be the people who will stay with us and move up the organisation."

The Commission's recruitment strategy has consequently in-cluded targeting institutions, such as the University of East London, with a high proportion of ethnic minority undergraduates.

It is also supporting the Windsor Fellowship, which asks employers to sponsor ethnic minority undergraduates by giving them personal development programmes. Students visit organisations between terms. The aim is to assist high flyers to land good jobs after graduation.

The Commission is sponsoring two students through the fellowship this year and hopes to sponsor more in the future.

Discussions are taking place with the National Mentoring Consortium, a campaign to encourage the mentoring of young adults from ethnic minorities, in which the Commission wants to participate.

"Once we get people to join we must manage them properly and retain them," says Ms Lemon. "Where their numbers are small, ethnic minority recruits might feel isolated. We have been running focus groups to get ethnic minority staff to talk about what we might do better."

This is leading to the creation of a self-managed group for ethnic minority staff to help them discuss problems and to lobby.The focus group indicates that the organisation is working well with its ethnic minority staff.

"We have equal opportunities representatives around the country," says Ms Lemon, "so that all staff are aware of racial discrimination and racial harassment, and we aim to do training on this for everybody."

While new ethnic minority recruits seem happy with the way the Commission implements its equal opportunities policies, more experienced staff have had some concerns. "We are listening to them," says Ms Lemon. "We realise the importance of the message coming from the top and are asking senior managers to set the standard. Andrew Foster, our chief executive, has just signed up to the Leadership Challenge, a Commission for Racial Equality initiative. We must make sure that our internal management does things in the right way. It is about getting both things right - recruitment and retention."

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
These photographs released by the University of Maryland Medical Center show images of full face transplant recipient 37-year-old Richard Lee Norris of Hillsville, Virginia
mediaGQ front page features man who underwent full face transplant
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Sport
Moeen Ali wearing the 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands on his left arm
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Business Analyst - London - Banking - £400-£450

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Banking - London...

Project Manager,Conduct Risk,London,£5-600pd

£500 - £600 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Senior Fund Administrator - Edinburgh - £22 p/hr

£20 - £22 per hour + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Fund Administrator, Top Four ...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on