Talman HR is a talent management consultancy set up by University of Kent graduate Chris Wright, and specialising in diversity and inclusion. The business was awarded an EIRA microfinance grant of £3,000 to develop solutions to diversity issues in recruitment by creating new virtual reality experiences.
Talman HR aims to increase diversity in recruitment, an issue which is prevalent in many businesses and recruitment processes. According to Acas (2017) 50% of people from excluded groups are unemployed and 25% are self-employed. Many companies would like to tackle these issues but simply do not know where to start and are scared of the unknown. The issues of a workforce that lacks diversity include reduced innovation potential by up to 40%, and reduced business interest from customers by up to £1.8bn across the UK economy annually (Walkaway Pound and Business Disability Forum, 2015).
Talman HR proposed to use virtual reality to enable organisations to experience a lack of inclusion and diversity by an employer and the possible solution. VR is already being used in multiple business and health situations with standout success in engaging people and increasing impact, including with dementia, but is not currently being used with the aim of increasing diversity and inclusion in the UK workforce.
Talman HR used their microfinance funding to incorporate VR into their business model. To do this, they created a VR experience using Cerebral Palsy as a case study. This tested attitudes and opinions to Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) before filming and this will be repeated and reflected upon once a working prototype has been finalised. This could then be used for extending the concept to encompass the inclusion of others whose needs are protected in the Equality Act 2010.
Due to COVID-19, some of the planned research was difficult to carry out on the allotted start date, but VR filming has been completed. The focus group was also delayed due to the pandemic, but the company adapted their approach to deliver focus groups online. It is likely that the evaluative focus discussions will have a similar but revised format due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
From the above work, the company aims to achieve 20 new client leads, seeking to successfully engage with half of them, and 20 new clients generated through the new suite of services over a 24-month period. They are also striving for blue chip company endorsement and a 10% reduction in the average diversity and inclusivity training cost.