Gender Equality Awards 2018: Responsible Business Award for Gender Equality - HM Revenue & Customs

Advancing gender inclusion amongst our high potential talent


HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) high potential talent has various development routes. One of these is a programme centred on HMRC’s key work, which equips trainees with the skills to perform in a range of Grade 7 technical roles. In 2015, 40% of applicants to this programme were women, but only 24% of appointed trainees. As this programme is key to feeding to HMRC’s senior talent pipeline, the Programme Team recognized this could significantly impact on gender representation at senior levels and the perception of the programme’s suitability for female applicants.

The team had already carried out activities to encourage more women to apply to the programme. These included producing three short videos for social media featuring existing female technical professionals and HMRC’s chief executive. Assessment centres were reviewed for gender split and marketing materials were amended to use gender-neutral language and appeal to female applicants. Additionally, HMRC hosted campus events targeting female undergraduates, and ran development centres for candidates to practice skills relevant to the assessment centre stage of the process. The programme was also promoted through in-house magazine and intranet articles.

HMRC’s graduate recruitment manager commissioned a report looking at male and female representation on the scheme, and how this aligned with the university applicants attended, what subject they studied, their degree qualification and how they performed in the recruitment process. The report also looked at the marketing strategy.

Following this review, several changes were made. One recommendation was to target more top 30 universities. The team secured additional funding for this and attended 17 top 30 universities (including four in the top ten) and 14 Russell Group universities. Additionally, it was recommended that the team increase the programme’s profile on social media, which was done through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

HMRC also reviewed the 2016 selection process and found that women did less well on numerical type testing, but performed well at the assessment centre. Following discussions with senior managers, the course director and the senior women’s network, it was agreed to place greater emphasis on verbal and logical reasoning tests. Additionally, HMRC increased the number of available places at the assessment centre, from 468 in 2015 to 562 in 2017, and invited more women to attend (197 in 2017, compared to 102 in 2015).



There has been steady improvement in the proportion of women appointed to the programme, rising from 22% in 2015 to 39% in 2017 – an increase of 77%. The number of women appointed to the graduate programme also increased by 66%, from 52 in 2015 to 86 in 2017. These changes have seen HMRC rise from 92nd to 43rd place in the Guardian’s 2017 graduate employer ranking. The number of applications from women continues to average around 42%, and HMRC is looking at how to increase this percentage both internally and externally.

HMRC is also looking at how to encourage employees who work part-time or alternative working patterns to apply for the programme. The organisation plans to run an alternative working pattern learning programme pilot, using digital technology to structure how and when the programme is run. This approach could feed into best practice in other internal talent programmes and across government and would benefit parents, carers, disabled employees and others who may not be able to participate in a time-intensive residential programme.