The diversity of the workforce at the London Olympics will be “unprecedented” and will be part of the lasting legacy left by the games, according to Locog’s Stephen Frost.

Frost, who is head of diversity and inclusion at Locog (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games), told PM that diversity and inclusion had been “absolutely central” to its recruitment process for volunteers, and to the employment practices it required of contactors successfully bidding for work.

“We are very pleased with the number of volunteer applications we received from the groups we targeted in terms of diversity and geography,” said Frost, who is also the CIPD’s vice-president for diversity and inclusion. “The recruitment pool is impressively diverse, and the thousands of disabled people that have applied, for example, is genuinely groundbreaking,”

Interviews for the 70,000 volunteers - or Games Makers - began on Tuesday, in what Frost described as the UK’s “largest peace-time recruitment event”. Volunteer interviewers with the relevant HR skills have also been drafted in to undertake the mammoth year-long task.

Although a commitment to volunteer at the games was “the decision of the individual”, Frost also encouraged employers to be flexible when considering annual leave requests from staff who were selected.

“People who volunteer will have a great experience, which employers should value. It’s good for employee motivation and retention, plus volunteers will go through proper training programmes about our values, the venues and their specific role,” said Frost.

As well as monitoring diversity on a monthly basis, Frost added that Locog was “absolutely committed” to meeting other self-imposed targets, agreed with the London Assembly, about the 200,000-strong temporary workforce that will be needed to help stage the summer games in 2012.

A minimum 15 per cent of the workforce will be from London host boroughs, while 7 per cent will be people who were previously unemployed. Although the 200,000 figure includes the volunteer pool, the majority of the temporary workforce will be contracted staff.

Frost said he hoped the mandatory recruitment practices Locog required of contractors when considering tenders would lead to lasting change, including the obligatory adoption of a guaranteed interview scheme for disabled people, diversity assessments and the provision of apprenticeships.

“In order to get a contract with us our big labour providers have to commit to certain things,” he explained. “In terms of the jobs, skills and employment piece, the standards we put in place with contractors are very important. Our goal here is to contribute to a legacy - Locog will be gone in 18 months’ time, but we are raising the bar in the private sector though our procurement processes.”

Speaking about what insights he would like to bring to his vice-presidency term at the CIPD, Frost added: “Locog is a unique beast, working to a specific deadline and under massive scrutiny to recruit thousands of diverse people and make an inclusive games. We have to do things that have never been done before, and I would like to transfer the relevant pieces of learning to other employers and HR professionals through the CIPD.”