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An Inside Look at Graduate Recruitment at VF Corporation; An Interview With Gabriele Silva, Recruitment Director

An interview with Gabriele Silva, the Recruitment Director for VF Corporation in the EMEA region.


What do you look for when you are recruiting graduates?

We recruit graduates for roles in different functions within the business, from marketing, merchandising and sales, to digital and tech. We also have internships and junior roles in support functions such as finance, HR, supply chain and legal.

Most opportunities are based at our HQs in Stabio (Ticino, Switzerland) and Antwerp (Belgium) but we have some positions that are based in our European offices in Barcelona, London, Nottingham, Paris, Munich, Milan etc.

When recruiting graduates, our main focus is on “soft” skills and the graduate’s motivation to join our team. Most technical skills can be learnt during an internship, but the right attitude and motivation should be there from day one!


Are there any specific recruitment processes that you follow, or does it vary depending on the graduate?

For graduates, we have a selection process based on interviews. Due to the current situation, we haven’t been able to organize assessment centres or in-person interviews. Instead, we’ve been inviting graduates for “distance” interviews via ZOOM.


How important is diversity and inclusion when you're recruiting new employees?

Diversity and inclusion are critical for us. A wide variety of skills and backgrounds help us to build a more creative and competent team, and to understand our consumers better. At VF, collaboration and trust are two of our key principles that can truly thrive in an inclusive and diverse environment, a VF culture where everyone feels they truly belong and can be their authentic self.


How do you ensure that you recruit a diverse group of graduates?

We’re working hard to build a wide network across Europe by making connections with different universities, masters programs and student communities. We also work with career & placement offices and other partners that help us to become more visible to students across Europe.

We also organize regular webinars and events to connect with students. At the end of November, we’re hosting an online event dedicated to LGBTQ+ students across Europe. Stay tuned and check out myGwork events for more information!


How do you make sure that the recruitment process is inclusive?

All of our VF recruiters are trained not only on interview skills, to ensure that we have a fact-based selection process, but more importantly on diversity and diverse sourcing. This training teaches our recruiters how to recognize their own bias, how to avoid discrimination, and how to adapt their interview style to ensure all candidates are at ease and have the equal chance during the interview. We also have similar training initiatives for our hiring managers. Recently, our Inclusion and Diversity team hosted some webinars for all our associates to discuss bias and how to become an ally.


What tools do you use to address unconscious bias and how effective are they?

We have multiple initiatives in place to make sure we create an inclusive culture where everyone feels welcome and included. Webinars, panel discussions, formal training sessions and a newsletter series on diversity are some of the initiatives being led by our HR and leadership teams, with significant support from our associates. We have a network of 200+ associates that are part of our Employee Resource Group the EMEA Inclusion and Diversity Network. The network is a true force for doing good that drives our diversity “agenda” from the bottom up. For example, they recently organized an online panel discussion to discuss female empowerment during which over 500 associates joined the conversation. It was so inspiring! Every single initiative works to interrupt unconscious bias and prejudices as we explore diversity, accept each other, and start facing up to our own biases in a safe space. This is the first step to creating a truly inclusive environment. Achieving diversity and inclusion is a journey and not a destination!



Would you encourage successful applicants to mention that they are LGBTQ+ during the interview process? If so, how could they do this comfortably?

Our aim is to make every candidate feel at ease during the interview and selection process. In some countries, it is quite normal and accepted to share personal information during an interview but in others, this may not be the norm. As we work across different countries and cultures, we avoid asking any “personal” questions unless they are absolutely necessary. Every candidate should feel free, at any point during a selection process, to ask questions about the company culture and how sexual orientation can impact your employment experience. Any recruiter has an obligation to share details about the company culture and to make sure that these questions are answered honestly!


Does your organization have an LGBTQ+ network?

Yes! VF has launched VF Pride Networks in different regions, NORA, APAC and most recently in EMEA.  The VF Pride EMEA team is off to a great start and we’re excited to see what’s next!


Do you inform your graduate candidates about the LGBTQ+ network or discuss the employee resource groups?

When it comes to company culture, facts speak louder than words. For this reason, we share with our candidates our I&D initiatives, such as the ERG networks. It’s important to give evidence about our company's commitment to diversity and inclusion and our employee resource groups definitely play an important role here.


How many LGBTQ+ graduates have you recruited in the past year?

At the moment, we don’t record data about sexual orientation in our selection process. However, we launched our first LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (VF EMEA Pride) this year, which is growing and already starting to make a positive impact. To start with, VF EMEA Pride is raising awareness on this important topic and encouraging our associates to continue to take actions. For example, in the next few weeks, we will organize a digital event to support LGBTQ+ graduates in their career journey, keep an eye out to sign up for soon.

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