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Essex challenging stereotypes for wholetime recruitment

Essex campaign

When Essex opened wholetime recruitment for the first time in almost nine years we knew it was an opportunity to increase the diversity of our operational workforce, which is 96% male and white, to reflect the communities that we serve.

Working with a local marketing agency we started by looking at the outdated around what a modern day firefighter and often result in unnecessary barriers to stop a more diverse range of people applying.

We soon realised that a big part of the reason females don’t apply is either through lack of confidence, or because they simply see it as a role exclusively for males.

Kicking off at the beginning of the year, we worked with our HR and fitness teams to set up firefighter taster sessions for females. They were so popular we had to open extra sessions and eventually saw over 100 women join us to take part in the fitness tests and find out more about the role.

For our campaign design we based main messages around the idea of mythbusting; using line illustrations that came to life in a video to help the audience to see themselves in the role.

We boldly challenged the idea that firefighting was only for men, as well as misconceptions around fitness levels and the role not being a career and not being suited to working parents.

Our targeted advertising appeared in the social media feeds and online advertising of women interested in fitness and directed them to our dedicated microsite, which gave more details of the role and how to apply: join.essex-fire.gov.uk. This was in addition to the organic posts we used on our social media platforms, where we also encouraged use of the hashtag #JoinEssexFire.

We opened applications at 6.30am on February 19 and within two hours we’d reached our cap of 1200 applicants and closed the portal.

It’s difficult to know the exact number of females that initially applied, due to the system we used and the data it captured. However, our campaign data shows that our targeting was successful in gaining clicks and engagement from females. And as we continue to move through the application stages we’re confident that we’ve recruited the very best applicants, both female and male, for our new wholetime squad who will begin training in June.

Verne Lewis is Marketing Communications Manager at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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