Ellie Long – Engineering an inclusive future

Ellie Long | Inclusive Hiring and Campaign Lead

Ellie Long is the Global Inclusive Hiring and Campaign Lead at Rolls-Royce, and we interviewed her to understand how she is working to attract a diverse talent pipeline into early career opportunities. Here are the highlights of our interview.

Ellie Long:

As the global inclusive hiring and campaign lead for Rolls-Royce, Ellie Long owns the delivery of the inclusive hiring initiatives, TA campaigns and early careers hiring. Ellie describes herself as a dynamic leader with experience in redesigning and delivering high impact change.

Her purpose is to create opportunities for people regardless of their education, upbringing, or social standing acting as a role model for other young female leaders.

She joined Rolls-Royce in 2020 as the early careers business partner with the ambition to drive diverse hiring through their apprenticeship and graduate opportunities. In her new role as global inclusive hiring and campaign lead, she’s had the opportunity to take the successes they had within the early careers space and grow their initiatives to benefit all of Rolls-Royce.

Before joining Rolls-Royce she worked in HR Ops and early talent roles for E.ON in the UK and Germany. Additionally, she also sits on the committee for Derby Toc H Children’s Camp, is the creator of the HY Up Podcast and winner of the rising star award at the Great British Businesswomen of the Year Awards 2021.

I have had the opportunity to work with some fantastic colleagues to elevate our approach to early careers recruitment, redesigning the way we attract, assess and select.

– Ellie Long

Tell us what is currently happening at Rolls-Royce?

Ellie Long says :

Our ambition at Rolls-Royce is to be the world’s leading industrial technology company as we drive the transition to net-zero carbon and design a better future for our planet through electrification and digitalisation. Our goal is to make power safer, cleaner and more sustainable and to use that power to connect power and protect society.

The exciting thing about our company is the people and the fact that we need a diverse workforce to collaborate to achieve our ambitions. We need to innovate, we have a rich skillset already within the business but the new generation will be key to bringing in new capabilities to work alongside our existing talent, allowing us to innovate, create and revolutionise our products and services. This is why my role is so exciting because I am at the forefront of engaging the next generation and giving them opportunities to create a career at Rolls-Royce.

Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of our people strategy and we are taking proactive steps to improve the diversity of our teams.

Ellie Long

What are your future ambitions?

In this last year, we have increased the diversity of the Rolls-Royce graduate and apprenticeship programmes, redesigned how we assess and select early talent and created new diversity initiatives to support social mobility, neurodiversity and increased ethnicity in STEM roles.

I fundamentally believe if we crack the challenge of social mobility, we’ll create diverse workplaces that can solve the social and environmental challenges we’ll face in the future. And give Rolls-Royce the skills they need to become the world’s leading industrial technology company shares, Ellie.

My ambitions for Rolls-Royce are to continue to drive forward inclusive hiring, removing the barriers for individuals who feel they do not have the opportunity to apply or be successful.

– Ellie Long

When asked what is the future of her industry – Ellie replied:

I think there is a real opportunity for us to assess and select candidates differently. A lot of research is showing the value of neurodiverse teams, having the diversity of thought, and placing a focus on individual strengths, values and behaviours over technical capabilities. I would like to see us challenge the traditional way we assess and select. 76% of students are worried about being able to gain the skills and experience needed for employment [The Sutton Trust, 2020], so as employers we need to think about what matters. Length of experience doesn’t automatically mean somebody is better or the highest level of qualification doesn’t determine future success in a business. Far too often candidates are sifted out based on length in roles, qualifications or even because they haven’t worked for a ‘big brand’. I want to challenge TA professionals to think about how we select candidates differently and then assess them on the things that matter.

There is a lot of interest now in designing for the ‘mind’ or the 10% of the population who are neurodiverse. The idea is that if we create inclusive and diverse processes those who currently thrive will continue to thrive, but importantly we have created a process that is now inclusive of those who see the world differently or don’t conform to the standard recruitment practices. This doesn’t mean to say ripping up the rule book, but thinking about how we can level the playing field through better recruitment practices, and job descriptions and criteria based on what is needed.

We are about to have one of the most diverse workforces I think we have ever seen. There are new buzzwords such as ‘returnships’ being used (hiring individuals after long career breaks), we have the new-gen Z entering the workforce (a group who have finished school and graduated during a global pandemic!) and many people who have had career changes sparked by the pandemic. We have people realising they can work more flexibly, anywhere in the world, and want a work-life balance. For HR professionals and talent management specialists this gives us a workforce like no other. Carefully and intentionally recruiting and developing a workforce with a range of experience and skills will become a powerful business tool. But the challenge is going to be managing the different priorities and shifting needs of multiple audiences. 

For Rolls-Royce, our EVP (Employee Value Proposition), and external branding message is going to become even more fundamental. We already recognize the value of a diverse workforce and are proactive in driving change but we now need to use tools such as advocacy, role models, talent communities and important insights to help shape our talent attraction agenda.

Advice to the women:

Ellie Long advises:

Somebody once said to me “Be opinionated, it is an experience for others to watch”. Far too frequently females feel that they cannot share their thoughts/ideas/ambitions for fear of being labelled aggressive, bossy, too ambitious or driven. My advice is to be purposefully disruptive, drive change and recognise your talents and abilities. The results I’ve achieved are because of my purpose, experiences and values. As a neurodiverse female leader under 30, it is what makes me ‘me’ that differentiates my leadership style. So this is my advice, have opinions, share them, be purposefully disruptive, be authentic and have your purpose.