Westpac optimises employment through Tailored Talent

Wed 3 October 2018

Westpac Group has partnered with Specialisterne Australia to deliver its new Tailored Talent internship program. Designed to facilitate a heightened connection between Westpac’s recruitment needs and career opportunities for talented people on the autism spectrum, Westpac is already seeing the benefits. A targeted approach has helped the company to discover remarkable talent, build engagement and optimise its broader employment strategy.

Two businesswomen seated in front of an audience, speaking. Banner behind says Australian Network on Disability.

Image (left to right): Vicky Little from Specialisterne and Rachel Ranton from Westpac speaking at an Australian Network on Disability roundtable in Sydney. 

Specialisterne was a key contributor to the innovative employment model, which helps create alternative pathways for organisations to access neurodiverse talent. Their practical approach to recruitment enables them to identify individuals’ unique skills and abilities, which standard recruitment processes overlook. By gaining an understanding of Westpac’s workplace and recruitment needs, Specialisterne was able to match the best candidates, as well as support integration and cultural change. Commenting on their role in the partnership, Employment Services Manager Vicky Little said:

‘The key word is careers. It’s not just about jobs, it’s about long-term, meaningful opportunities. By changing recruitment practices for one part of the population, it will benefit everyone.’

Man speaks in front of a lectern. The projection screen behind him shows an Australian Network on Disability logo and says Targeted Employment Program, intro by Trevor Quach, Westpac Intern.

Trevor Quach was selected as an intern for the pilot intake of Tailored Talent. His communication difficulties, particularly when tested in highly competitive environments, made traditional interview processes impossible, leaving Trevor as the eternal academic. Describing his experiences at a recent Australian Network on Disability member roundtable in Sydney, he said:

‘I couldn’t get a job until the Tailored Talent program. Now, I feel motivated, driven and excited to work very hard. I feel an enormous sense of loyalty to Westpac.’

Trevor is one of several interns making an impact through innovative problem-solving at Westpac. In just three months, one candidate selected for the cyber team has solved complex problems that have existed for years.

Westpac Inclusion and Diversity Consultant Rachel Ranton said the Tailored Talent program was an initiative ‘driven by our people’ to identify the unique strengths and capabilities of candidates that might otherwise have been missed. In consultation with Specialisterne, they decided on 12-month paid internships to start with, with the view to provide ongoing employment. Acknowledging some of the overarching business objectives of the program, she said:

‘We hadn’t been able to find the right talent through our traditional recruitment processes. We don’t want 1000 different programs with 1000 different approaches. We want to take what we learn and apply that across our broader recruitment practice.’

With touchpoints across the entire organisation, all Westpac’s people leaders are critical to the ongoing success of Tailored Talent. Hiring managers may need to adjust their own and their team’s communication styles, know their obligations to maintain privacy for those who don’t want to share information about their disability, and play an active role in reducing anxiety for new team members. While internal support, engagement and confidence are key success factors, Ms Little said the critical element is strong leadership:

‘The strongest indicator of success is a supportive manager; those who take the time to understand their employees’ strengths, needs and preferred ways of learning. All that’s needed is good management and communication skills.’

Six months in, Tailored Talent has helped Westpac to amplify disability confidence and engage the whole business in the benefits of a workforce that includes people with disability. The aim now is to place the interns into permanent roles, in accordance with their individual strengths and interests. Encouraging other organisations to realise the far-reaching benefits of programs like Tailored Talent, Ms Ranton said:

‘Understand your own organisation, understand your options, and then develop partnerships to help you bring it to life.’

Five tips for implementing a targeted employment program

Westpac Inclusion and Diversity Consultant Rachel Ranton offered five tips to other Australian Network on Disability members thinking about a targeted employment program:

  1. Gain executive buy-in and support.
  2. Say you’re going to do it and then figure out how. If you’re hesitant, put something out internally to gauge interest (an internal announcement to launch Tailored Talent at Westpac was one of the company’s top two most-read communications).
  3. Research your options and find a program that will work best for the needs of your organisation.
  4. Understand your organisation’s maturity in terms of access and inclusion and choose a partner that fits.
  5. Ensure there are people willing to commit across all areas of your business. Engage your workforce and allow them to have ownership.

The Australian Network on Disability can help you find the right disability employment support service for you to partner with and create your own success story. Contact your Relationship Manager for more information.

Westpac Group

Westpac Group is a founding Platinum Member of the Australian Network on Disability.

Specialisterne Australia 

Specialisterne Australia helps employers understand, value and include the unique capabilities of people on the autism spectrum.

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