Have we got Diversity wrong? Time for a rethink? Time for a rebrand?

After 16 months championing people with mental difference, launching a unique online diagnostic that uses psychometrics to validate how diverse groups feel and cope at work, hundreds of amazing conversations and conferences, and two general conferences last week alone that turned out to major on diversity, it’s time for me to get something off my chest!

Some of the leading campaigners and thought leaders on diversity, and some media I might add, have confirmed recently that we are just not moving the needle far enough on diversity!

But I believe we might be doing a little better than most people think but they just don’t know it! I also think with a slightly alternative and consolidated view people will recognise this, and the UK will have an opportunity to push on and lead the field.

I started to doubt we had diversity 100% correct a few years back when I was on an all-white male seminar panel and someone called it out on social media. Yes, it didn’t look diverse, but one of the panellists was an OAP, one was gay and one had a mental illness. So it was in fact, in my opinion, totally diverse. I’m tempted to say hidden diversity!

Recently, there has been a lot reported about all female shortlists and quotas, and this was raised on Wednesday at a roundtable event. Very positive feedback from everyone, including me, however, I did suggest this had risks because it could be seen and experienced as being exclusive by others, especially white middle aged males with a physical disability / mental health condition or another protective characteristic. Again, in my opinion, they represent diverse groups but just happen to also represent one of the groups at the centre of the inequality debate.

So is the problem people not understanding what diversity means, or how diverse their workforces actually are?

Is the problem too much silo focus on specific diversity group activity, potentially to the level that they compete for recognition and action from the exact same enablers of change, therefore leading to an inconsistent and weighted outcome?

I think it’s a combination of all, and the solution is to drastically simplify the subject and approach to raising awareness and championing difference!

And that word is the key in my opinion….. DIFFERENCE!

We need to simply accept that everyone is different, and it’s these differences that bring alternative ways of achieving things, lived in experience and better outcomes. These differences, and associated experience and skill sets, qualities and capabilities, need to be understood, embraced, celebrated, supported (sometimes with reasonable adjustments) harnessed and valued!

Simultaneously we need to encourage people to surface and celebrate their difference. If we can achieve both, we will have the optimum data set to match roles to the very best people based on their experience and skill set, qualities and capabilities.

Finally we need to accept that we are a product of our upbringing, relationships, life, experience, education etc. and all forms of bias are going to exist. Knowing this and tackling it in a positive and ‘in the moment way’ will reduce bias in the recruitment and employment process / experience.

So where do we start. I’ve seen a number of ‘head of diversity and inclusion’ roles advertised recently and a good start would be to rename these ‘head of difference’, with the brief to encourage people to surface and celebrate their difference, and business to provide knowledge, learning and case studies surrounding how different differences bring brilliance and optimal outcomes, plus take every step possible to educate the workforce about bias and how it’s a ‘barrier for best’.

Simultaneously businesses needs to accurately benchmark difference across their workforces, across all levels, to identify areas of critical focus. This is where anonymous surveying surrounding the categories of difference people fall into, plus how they feel and cope at work will provide the data to inform the optimum ‘difference strategy’.

Some will notice I used the word anonymous when I previously I suggested we needed more to celebrate their difference. Not everyone will do so initially, but in time I hope they will.

Society naturally needs to mirror this through parenting, community groups, Government and the education system etc. but that is the subject of another article!

I’m not suggesting this is going to be easy but we need to pull together and support a simplified collective cause which will be easier to consume, adopt and practice.

I would welcome your views.

Colin.

Calling all Employers and Recruitment Tech’s – Anomaly with disability questioning

I’ve been applying for jobs recently and some forward thinking organisations are asking the full suite of diversity questions. Thank you to all of you.

However, me being me, I noticed something which could be evolved.

When answering if you have a disability, it’s a bit confusing when it comes to some mental illnesses.

The question is mainly along the lines of, “do you have a disability, when the term disability means you’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities”, with a Yes or No option for answering.

In some cases however, specifically surrounding mental ill health, it’s not as clear cut as a Yes or No answer!

If someone has OCD, Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder and possibly other mental or physical impairments, the symptoms are not always present, and in some cases the illness or impairment can be pretty much 100% under control!

But even in these cases there will potentially be times when the symptoms present themselves and will have a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on one’s ability to do normal daily activities!

So what do you do? Do you answer ‘Yes’ even though your employer may never see any impact on your ability to do normal (gosh I really hate the word normal) daily activities, and potentially worry in the back of your mind that in the wrong hands that intel might be used negatively against you (stigma hasn’t been completely smashed yet), or do you answer ‘No’ and being the conscientious people we are, have that niggle in the back of your mind that you are in fact not answering honestly?

I personally think the answer is to include another answer selection which is, Yes, but controlled (or equivalent). In my book this covers all basis, and opens up an additional healthy line of conversation regarding the person’s health and how by managing the symptoms it has created additional experience, capability and resilience etc.

I’m sure others have an opinion on this so please comment and share so we can potentially influence change if indeed people agree change will add value.

All the very best.

Colin.

You could lose the 4th Industrial Revolution opportunity

Lord Holmes spoke eloquently on Wednesday at Tipping Point about the opportunity the 4th Industrial Revolution represents to British business.

But some of you are going to miss it because many businesses are working harder to take your talent, than you are working to keep it!

Humans are programmed to survive, so no matter how much AI, machine learning, robotics and everything else making the headlines affects people and business; humans will innovate, find a way, and progress. The one constant that will determine whether your business thrives or dives, is your people!

Therefore, you absolutely must keep your critical employees, and add to them, to take advantage of today’s ever evolving world of work! You also must embrace diversity to ensure you have the full range of perspectives, experience and differences in thinking, to exploit the pace of change, innovation and automation.

The world is awash with examples of recruiting excellence with the most advanced employer brand, attraction, selection and onboarding strategies, all designed to take your best people away from you!

And some companies are truly diverse which means they bake difference into every challenge and solution, which will naturally attract people with the brilliance their difference gives them.

These coincide with practices in other businesses that play into the hands of talent competitors, namely, restricting earnings, heaping on pressure, poor communication and treatment, sub-optimal supervision and management, inequality, poor working conditions and no consistent purpose and cause. Basically a sub-optimal employment ecosystem.

There are three types of businesses:

  1. Those that say people are their most important asset but don’t treat them as such.
  2. Those that say people are their most important asset, want to treat them all as such, but due to a lack of consistent governance, they don’t achieve it.
  3. Those that say people are their most important asset, and treat everyone as such.

You should know which type of business you are and which type of business you want to be.

You should know if you have an optimal resourcing strategy.

You should know if you have an optimal approach to diversity, inclusion and belonging.

You should know if you have created the perfect employment ecosystem aligned to achieving the business plan and retaining your critical talent.

If you score positively in each of the above you will thrive and capitalise from the 4th Industrial Revolution.

If you have any doubt whatsoever, please contact me, for an open and honest conversation and appraisal.

It would be a delight to support you to seize the opportunity the 4th Industrial Revolution brings.

Colin.

Your retention strategy is more important than your attraction strategy!

People are leaving your organisation, or gearing up to, because;

  • better opportunities are being offered to them,
  • they are unhappy with the commute / business travel requirements,
  • your business lacks purpose and cause,
  • they don’t respect their boss!

FACT!

People want to;

  • be paid well,
  • have a reasonable commute and business travel regime,
  • work for a business and leaders they can be proud of,
  • have a boss that is fair and supports them!

These are the proven top four. Now sit back, clear your mind and think of everything else that you personally covet, and if they don’t fit into the above you are thinking of the five and onwards that are extremely important but in general are not top of the leader board.

So if you can;

  • pay commensurate to the effort someone gives you,
  • consider and react to the challenges people have commuting and travelling for business,
  • clearly articulate and communicate what you stand for as a business and aim to achieve,
  • ensure everyone treats everyone else fairly and equitably…

…you will have a better than average retention rate!

Better still you will have some amazing;

  • employer brand messaging,
  • EVP components,
  • ratings on Glassdoor and Indeed,
  • positive brand virility across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc.
  • brand advocates recommending brilliant people to work for you.

CAUTION!

It doesn’t work the other way round, hence your retention strategy being more important than your attraction strategy!!!!!

You can spend all the money in the world on;

  • strategic workforce planning,
  • marketing your business and jobs,
  • state of the art digital, recruitment and HR technology,
  • the world’s leading attraction channels,
  • an award winning social media presence,
  • the slickest recruitment process,
  • an outstanding onboarding experience…

…BUT if the actual employment experience doesn’t live up to your front end attraction experience and what you sell to candidates, you will get found out!

At best you can expect sub-optimal productivity from new hires until they leave.

At worst you can expect new hires to leave immediately, thus wasting all the time, effort and resource attracting them in the first place!

I’m concerned about the amount of people confirming retention issues to me when we have arguably one of the biggest changes in the labour market looming in the form of whatever Brexit brings us.

A diminishing labour pool due to reduced immigration, and growth, yes growth, after Brexit day, because let’s be honest the Government and Bank of England will jump in with fiscal stimulus if things start to go South; means increased competition for less available talent.

You must retain your most important asset, and develop your most important asset, which will in turn help you attract more of your most important asset, and put your business in a much better position than most in the run up to, and aftermath of, 29th March 2019!

The majority response I have had from my last post “Is your Resourcing / Talent Strategy Brexit proofed”? was from people suggesting employers will leave things too late (just like GDPR two said) so let’s please prove them wrong.

If you need any help with any of this, you know where I am, but remember time is running out and there is only one me! Thank goodness I hear some cry!

All the best.

Colin.

colin.minto@bigideatalent.com
+44 (0)7887 480142
www.linkedin.com/in/colinminto

Diversity – It’s not a Gender Agenda!

She hopefully won’t mind me saying this but I took my initial learning and inspiration for focusing on diversity and inclusivity throughout my resourcing career from the most amazing Group Head of Diversity, Theresa White of G4S.

Diversity was an automatic element of everything that G4S did whilst I was there, and I remember clearly a leadership diversity focused meeting at Group where Theresa made us all feel comfortable to say whatever came into our heads, as there was some apprehension from us newbies to the subject surrounding inadvertently saying the wrong thing during conversation.

To open our minds to the full diversity experience Theresa instilled in us the notion that ‘Diversity is not a gender agenda’ and that all difference was good and should be celebrated and incorporated at all times.

I was reminded of this during a Facebook conversation this week with some industry chums as I played back an experience I had when I was on an external panel discussion and afterwards someone quipped that the panel wasn’t very diverse.

Yes on the face of things there were three white blokes, who even with the best makeup artist couldn’t look young again, so we fitted the stereotypical pale, stale, male group, however, one was in his seventies, another was gay and I have a mental illness, OCD.

So in reality it was a very diverse panel, but aesthetically, you could understand why we were called out as being the opposite.

A question bounced around my head whilst mowing the lawns this morning and I just had to write it down. So just how diverse are our workforces?

Do we really know what diverse groups our employees enjoy belonging to? Some are quite naturally easy to recognise, but the more private and sensitive, e.g. mental ill health, where many don’t want to disclose, could account for so many more belonging to a diverse group and therefore enriching the real percentage scoring of diversity across the organisation.

And back to the pale, stale, male stereotype. Has anyone else thought that as more and more are comfortable discussing their diverse group membership, especially people with mental ill health (yes I do think this is a diverse group), are people that fall into this category and absolutely no other, ultimately going to fall into a future minority and diverse group that will need to be surrounded by a support and campaign environment, where members are championed for the difference they can still bring to our ultra-diverse world?

Happy Bank Holiday (UK) everyone, and do get in touch if I can support with any of your diverse hiring, or mental health initiatives.

Colin.

I just wish I had done it earlier!

Old news now, but you know I ‘opened up’ about my life with OCD in August, and that I eventually took the fight to it and seized a healthy control over it (most of the time).

I wanted to share what ‘opening up’ has done to, and for me, because doing so was something I feared so much, for all the usual stigma associated reasons, but quite honestly shouldn’t have with the benefit of hindsight.

I hope the following might help others in their thinking as to whether or not to ‘open up’ themselves.

First of all I can categorically confirm that I am not alone! Since ‘opening up’ so many known and unknown people have spoken to me privately about their experience of mental difference and challenge.

As a consequence a tremendous amount of two-way good feeling, intention and compassion has been shared, which in itself has made us all feel good, supported and a little bit free’er (if the word exists)!

It has also motivated me to speak more and more about my personal experience, which seems to be encouraging more to do the same. What a brilliant outcome and a great step towards increased acceptance, understanding, support and most importantly, people and businesses recognising that mental difference can be harnessed to support doing even better business!

Secondly, I have been asked by some to help them tackle their personal challenges by intimately sharing how I took the fight to my illness, what my coping and containment strategies are and how I have developed a pragmatism about my OCD.

I cannot begin to describe how rewarding it is to help others combat the symptoms of their illnesses and support them to feel better about life. This again is a joint learning exercise because combating OCD is different to combating, for example, depression, however, there are some demonstrable similarities and cross overs. By sharing how we approach our own situations and challenges it enables us to grow and tweak our weaponry, which is tremendously powerful for all.

Finally speaking about my USP, AKA my mental difference, which has given me a different and sometimes enhanced skill set and capability, has surprisingly opened a new world of professional opportunities for me.

I happily and freely speak to customers and potential customers about why I am a good problem solver. It’s because I have been solving irrational catastrophic situations in my head for 30+ years, which has subsequently trained and continually exercised my brain to solve rational problems, such as creating optimum resourcing strategies and methodologies, and automating global HR functions, including; innovating new HR technologies.

I have had new event speaking opportunities on a completely different subject; mental difference in business, which include; Roffey Park Institute’s 70th anniversary wellbeing seminar, DRIVE at the House of Lords with the amazing and inspirational Raj Tulsiani and chairing regular Corporate Wellness Innovation Forum meetings.

I have also developed the HERO Mental Health Readiness Model, which supports employers to increase their entire workforce’s productivity, and have a rapidly growing list of companies that are engaging with me to present to, and consult with, them!

So here was something I thought would potentially label me, hold me back and inhibit my career. On the contrary, it has taken my career to a whole new level and forged stronger relationships with most I know, new relationships with people I didn’t and given me the opportunity to help others individually or en masse via supporting their employers.

So I’m not going to beat myself up about why I took so long to ‘open up’ (that’s me being pragmatic again), I’m going to continue to embrace and celebrate my difference, use it to support others and hopefully encourage them to ‘open up’ as well, and maybe, just maybe, we will remove the stigma associated with mental difference, and all diverse differences to that matter, together.

Let’s make 2017 the year when difference becomes the driving force for better living, relationships and business outcomes.

All the best.

Colin.

Just realised again that I’ve come a very, very long way!

Just had a realisation moment (again) that I’ve come a very, very long way!

I was given an emergency aisle seat for my flight today, 15A, by the window. When we were up it crossed my mind that if I pulled the emergency exit handle I could create a catastrophic event.

I’ve panicked about this many times before, especially as a kid! Psychiatrists would confirm that most people would have the same thought but it wouldn’t even register! I however got a pang of anxiety as my brain tried to convince me it was a very real and probable situation; an obsession.

Then the compulsion tried to set in! The need to prove to myself I didn’t actually want to do this and to demonstrate I am not a bad person. The urge to play over scenarios in my head to give me some comfort and proof. A symptom of my mental difference and something historically I have spent hours, if not days, ruminating about.

This all happened in a matter of micro seconds and Guess what? I just laughed it off, I recognised it was just my human difference kicking in and it wasn’t something I needed to engage in. I kicked it into touch and just carried on with what I was doing, which was proof reading a business plan. I didn’t need to move from my seat as a ‘just in case’, which I would have wanted to do many years ago.

I thought to myself (again); blimey I’ve come along way! So here it is, real-time proof that you can control mental challenges and play the cause at its own game. In my case targeting my rational brain to combat my irrational brain and win.

I personally believe this is a very powerful skill I have developed, which is why I am great in a business related crisis situation. A technology hack or contract going south is a walk in the park compared to the things an OCD brain gets one thinking about and trying to solve.

My mental difference is my USP! Thank you OCD!

Pah, ‘normal’ is so last week!

The definition of ‘normal’ in the Oxford English Dictionary is – Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected:

In the Cambridge English Dictionary it’s – Ordinary or usual; the same as would be expected:

So what are we really saying here; ‘samey’ perhaps!

And come on, there really is no such thing as normal! We are all have human, and everyone has human issues and challenges…..

And I don’t know if you agree (perhaps you will comment later) but don’t we get taught the importance of being different at various stages in our lives? In fact aren’t we encouraged to be different from a young age?

For example, when I started my career in sales I was exposed to the phrase ‘unique selling proposition’ (USP). The Wikipedia definition of USP is – A factor that a business has that makes it different and or better than others out there:

Another example would be the advice we give to people writing or updating their CV! You know nougats of insight like; what makes you stand out from the rest, what difference do you bring to the party, how do you do things differently to achieve better outcomes?

For all the X Factor fans out there, the judges, and money makers behind the scenes, are looking for the next big thing or things, different or better than what’s already out there.

Finally, in sports, there is a continued drive to improve performance and outcomes by doing things differently! Different fitness and eating regimes, different innovations in equipment, different mental approaches!

I’m sorry, but surely this shows that being different is critical, and difference, is the difference between achieving improved outcomes, or the same old same old, the usual, the ‘to be expected’!

I was on the panel session at the brilliant @RoffeyPark Institute’s 70th anniversary forum on wellbeing event last week, chaired by the exceptional @SimonFanshawe OBE, and I spoke openly about achieving as a consequence of my mental difference. As the discussion progressed I talked about businesses needing to focus on skills and capability alone, and that there is no need for labelling based on difference if viewed through the right lens!

Companies have business plans designed to achieve their purpose and satisfy their stakeholders. HR then has the people plan to achieve the people element of the business plan. Finally, resourcing has the resourcing plan, to support the achievement of the people plan.

This resourcing plan and the people plan invariably hold the blueprint of the skills and capabilities needed throughout the end to end workforce to achieve the business plan. It will not and should not go into any granularity about what that workforce should look and sound like, nor include anything personal.

So breaking it down to this level of simplicity, businesses should easily be able to articulate what skills and capabilities are needed and then do the harder bit which is to go out and get these. Race, gender, sexuality, age, health etc. just don’t come into it.

Right, we need a skill and/or capability! Do you possess it to the level we need? Yes, then you make the shortlist. Simple simple stuff.

And going back to my opening, surely the people you ideally want to acquire these skills and capabilities from are predominantly those that can provide it differently and better than others, e.g. leveraging their difference!

I think I might be part of the problem in due course by championing a diversity label, namely mental health, or hidden disability. I don’t think it will be too long, at least I hope it won’t be too long, until I simply talk about having a human difference, instead of a mental one.

My mental; oops sorry, human difference has helped me bring innovation and value to all of my previous employers, and more recently clients, who have all been delighted. I’m therefore happy that I’m not normal because it’s so last week and my difference is my competitive advantage, my USP.

What’s yours?

Resilience – That’s twice now!!!

My wonderful recent meeting with Charles Walker OBE MP at Parliament, has just converged with my speaking and chairing engagement at Roffey Park Institute’s 70th anniversary event tomorrow, where I will give the HERO Mental Health Readiness Model a great airing.

Charles said he loved the model and that it should evolve further and incorporate resilience as a follow up! Roffey Park Institute, one of the world’s renowned leadership institutes, has produced the Resilience Capability Index (RCI) – http://www.roffeypark.com/resilience-capability-index. That’s twice now!

The world is changing faster than ever and I personally think we have crossed the rubicon where change in general happens faster than our ability to adapt. Think about the political changes in the world lately. Relatively overnight, we have seen demonstrable change in the UK and USA political landscape, with what looks like more examples to follow (eek).

Then look at our reaction to it. It’s one of 50% resistance and a lack of desire to accept it and adapt. It’s also one of 50% anger and demonstration. You still see examples of this every day across traditional and social media. The debate rages on!

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing or wrong, but I predict before mainstream acceptance has happened to these seismic events (whatever that looks like) something massive and related would have changed again. The pace of change in life is just too fast. Look at tech as well! No sooner have you bought something, version (OMG my version is now old) 2 comes along! We just gotta accept more and more change because you blink and you miss the next one.

The continued and seemingly elevating outcry following change, and compulsion to get involved in the debate (quietly points the finger at social media here) by many is a huge source of distraction and potentially stress. That’s not good for personal or professional lives or human and business productivity!

So my point is this. If events like ‘Brump’, that’s Brexit and Trump combined, were accepted quicker by those/us that voted against them, would they/we be less distracted, less compelled to argue against it and less stressed.

In my own world I say yes. My immediate reaction to my initial reaction to these things, to keep my stress levels in check, is to try to accept things as quickly as possible and move on. Not easy but it’s something I am now conditioned to do because the alternative feeds my illness. Does that then make me more resilient than others? If so another positive for having OCD!

Finally, resilience must therefore be a state of mind; well for me it is. I consciously practice resilience as one of my remedies, along with exercise, distraction, CBT, not drinking alcohol (that’s a lie sorry) and by living as healthily as possible. You can apply a reaction to a reaction, and if its a positive to counter a negative, e.g. being resilient, eventually it becomes habitual. Arguably a good habit to acquire! I have a few.

All the best.

Colin – +44 (0)7887 480142 – colin.minto@bigideatalent.com – Join the Mental Health in Business Group

But What About Me???

I think I owe a few people an apology!

So there’s me talking about mental health awareness in business, separately to my day job of advising major corporates regarding their resourcing, HR and HR technology change aspirations, with multiple Group HRD’s and Wellness Heads on the subject of how they support the tens, and hundreds, of thousands of employees they have responsibility over.

Then it struck me after a wellness professional, and separately an HRD, got in touch to invite me in to discuss mental health in their business, and during the business discussion they opened up to me about their own personal experiences.

It dawned on me (err hello Colin) that those ultimately responsible for ensuring the wellness and happiness of everyone working in their organisation, can also have challenges themselves. Obvious I know but not something I immediately considered. I suppose it’s like not knowing your parents have any worries or cares in the world until you witness something!

So taking a step back, this is also going to be true for business leaders. Obvious again, but it just goes to show the extent of how hidden this subject still is. It also brings up an interesting dynamic, that those charged with making a difference for many, might also need support themselves.

So who do they get to turn to? Is it harder for them to open up because of their leadership position? Could they be putting in initiatives for others but not leveraging them themselves? If so does this increase any difficulties they are experiencing?

I can’t answer for them/you, but until I opened up, because I chose to go independent and was no longer employed, I can almost guarantee that in my capacity as a Group Head of Resourcing and HR Systems, I would not have gone mainstream internally about my personal challenges, even if I was putting in support solutions for others.

Sad to say this, but it’s how I would have thought at the time because I have feared for being stigmatised my entire life, something that compounded my particular issues.

So back to the leaders above. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for immediately thinking of those you support over and above you personally. I’m sorry that you might experience a complete set of additional pressures and challenges because of the leadership situation you are in. I’m sorry you might not have someone available in the business to open up to.

But I/we can do something about this. We can open up! We are at the start of a time where this subject is both topical in our personal and business lives. I encourage you to open up if you can find the strength and right opportunity to do so. It was the biggest release for me, and from my own personal perspective it has only been positive.

I have met new people due to a common passion. I have found out new things about close friends, colleagues and customers, because they now have someone they can talk to about things they have buried deep. I have opportunities to talk about something other than end to end resourcing strategy, HR change and HR technology transformation, which is timely because the HR market is a little deflated at present. I have learned things and I have got a huge weight off my shoulders forever!

I am introducing my HERO Mental Health Readiness Model at three events in the next three weeks. It’s going to be extremely hard hitting and liberating. It’s going to be emotional because I know others in the room will either open up publicly, or privately to me afterwards. I know this from experience of delivering smaller, more intimate, workshops on the subject recently. It’s going to be enlightening for all.

hero-mental-health-readiness-model

This all constitutes me doing my bit to support knocking the stigma associated with mental health in the workplace out of sight. Join me, contact me, speak with me, let me speak to your teams, let me run diagnostics in your business.

Let’s all open up, so discussions about mental health become mainstream and comfortable for all, and conditions and availability of support improve.

Let’s Hide No More!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Colin.