Leonardo – Employer brand

Leonardo is a global high-tech company and one of the key players in aerospace, defence and security which formed from a number of other organisations including AgustaWestland and Marconi. With headquarters in Italy, Leonardo has over 45,600 employees. With its offices and industrial plants, the company operates in 180 sites worldwide, with a significant industrial presence in four domestic markets (Italy, the UK, the US and Poland) as well as strategic partnerships in the most important high-potential international markets.

What did they do?

Replacing an employer brand across businesses that have long standing names and reputations, such as AgustaWestland and Marconi, is not something that can happen overnight, but the journey has to begin somewhere.  As resourcing was a strategic priority for Leonardo, it provided the right area of focus to introduce change to its approaches to recruitment and assessment.

Being more visually attractive to the candidate gave it a great starting point from which other areas came into play, but also exposed Leonardo, and some of their customers voiced concerns that it was a risk to divert from profiling the end product.

To communicate inclusive recruitment commitment to candidates, Leonardo needed more than an equal opportunities statement added to its website. It wanted to capture the candidate’s attention in seconds. Leonardo needed to commit to work that wanted to thread diversity and inclusion throughout all activities and embed a cultural change through shared experience.

Through a series of exploratory discussions, analysis of internal data and external research, it started to plan:

  • It needed to create a medium to bring employees closer to potential candidates.
  • It wanted to profile engineers to people, showing who they were and what they did.
  • Leonardo approached employees who had great stories to tell, highlighting career achievements, technical strengths and employment journeys.
  • The organisation had to take a risk in profiling employees into a competitive arena as they had to be honest and genuine. It hoped that employees’ impressions of working for Leonardo were positive enough to impress others.

Leonardo needed people to become recruitment ambassadors but did not know if it had the representative diversity across the workforce to profile and how it would sustain the change and build on these first steps.

Leonardo had to engage with employees and match people to key messages that spoke to both internal and external audiences. It wanted to convey something tangible about life at Leonardo that audiences could relate to and understand, and hoped to challenge perceptions by showing female engineers as both business and technical experts in their fields.

This was a very big shift for the organisation and it wanted to advertise across several communication channels, not just in trade journals or defence exhibits, as in the past. Leonardo’s initial focus was on highlighting gender and ethnicity. Its ideas included everything from handout flyers to profiling Leonardo to commuter traffic at airports and railway stations.

Tools that they used

Unconscious bias training within recruitment and selection.

What was the impact?

In such a competitive labour market, Leonardo knew that the recruitment ’shop window’ should look attractive, so this was the first area that it addressed. By changing the way Leonardo is profiled across various social media, external and internal platforms, it has increased applications across its early careers roles by 28%.

Direct traffic to the careers website has increased by 61% after it started marketing professional recruitment roles by profiling the people who work for Leonardo. It has increased its followers on LinkedIn and from social traffic by 69%.

By profiling individuals, their background stories and encouraging employees to share their experiences, Leonardo has given definition to its employer brand. It has created a strapline that starts to respond to the question, “What does it mean to be part of Leonardo?” as a new name, built on the engineering heritage of several former organisations.

This has generated an excitement internally, and it has used stories and imagery of employees to promote the six dimensions of people management. This provides a toolkit on how everyone can work better together and is reinforced through the performance appraisal process and profiled in calendars that offer reminders and inspirational quotes on everyone’s desk. This project has also acted as a background commentary for the business to make diversity and inclusion a priority topic of conversation.  Leonardo’s hiring managers have undertaken unconscious bias and diversity training as a follow up to help the practical journey.

Were there any challenges?

Throughout this project, customer feedback has been divided. Convincing some of the need to change the direction and emphasis has been a challenge. People saw the company’s products as neutral and the use of such imagery with the text adverts as promoting meritocracy; so there was no need for change. At times, it was valuable to focus on the return on investment or competitor analysis to illustrate the reality of the need to adopt a new approach.

Evaluating the full impact of this initiative has not been immediately possible; however, some small milestones have been set to help Leonardo check that it is heading in the right direction for positive findings. These include analysing the diversity of applications against roles where imagery, employee profiles and new recruitment videos have been used to promote them.

Hints and tips

Make a proposal that gets sponsorship

  • changing direction and introducing a new approach is far easier if you have support and backing.

Don’t work in isolation

  • internal knowledge is valuable but make sure you understand the external landscape so that you are able to decipher what is valuable information and what should be discarded.

Don’t farm out all the work

  • using a consultancy can be very valuable and has a part to play within a project but don’t let external advice become the dominant voice. There is much to be gained by supporting key individuals in the organisation, and enabling them to learn and investigate, even from zero knowledge, and then refining outcomes.

Look at what your data and practices tell you

  • your organisation has a wealth of information that provides you with a baseline from which to identify key themes that need to be tackled.

Don’t tackle the world; break it up into smaller more manageable chunks

  • it would have been easy for Leonardo to try and widen the scope of this project very quickly but it needed to set a platform of expectation from which to evolve.