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.

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!

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.

Thrilled to become a KidsOut Ambassador

Since setting up Big Idea Talent I have supported KidsOut.

I’m working in partnership with some of my Associates and Wave Recruitment Marketing (all pro bono) to build out a career centre esq solution for them to attract and recruit committee members to run KidsOut Question of Sport events and fundraising evenings.

I was absolutely thrilled and delighted to be invited to become a KidsOut Ambassador this week. One of my greatest personal achievements given the cause it represents.

It’s an amazing organisation and is run expertly by Gordon, his team and the amazing volunteers. The passion everyone puts in to keeping costs to an absolute minimum so the kids it supports get the maximum benefit is incredible.

If you want to do good and have some capacity, please contact me to discuss. KidsOut changes lives for kids and it will change yours too, believe me.

All the best.

Colin.

Where’s all the mental wellbeing?

mental-health-scrabble

Since ‘opening up’ about my own mental health challenges I have had some amazing meetings and conversations about mental health, diversity and wellbeing in the workplace.

Interestingly, I naively thought that not a lot was being done to raise the subject of mental health in the workplace specifically, so I set about wanting to change that.

It turns out however, it is one of the hottest topics out there at the moment. I kid you not, everyone is talking about it, and there are quite literally hundreds, if not thousands of initiatives running simultaneously!

So why didn’t I know this? Why did an HR professional who has 30+ years experience of mental health, 25+ years business experience, spoken at countless HR and Resourcing conferences and got a pretty cool sized network, not know there was a tonne of initiatives and stuff out there already?

I found out about it all because I got interested in the space (for obvious reasons) and started asking questions about it! I went on the look-out for it, it didn’t find me; someone these initiatives are designed to target and reach out to!

I suppose I also spent my whole career hiding my mental health experience for fear of potential discrimination, so maybe I was just naturally blind to it all.

Anyhoooo, if mental health awareness raising hasn’t been tremendously overt in recent years, due to it, and the conversation, existing internally and within closed groups, that my friends is a changing!

I will be running a conference, it’s my calling, but there are many others already in my diary plus all kinds of meetings and events. So this is getting sorted, but what about other ways of getting the mental health and wellbeing message out there.

Are companies using their approach to wellbeing in their employer brand, EVP, job descriptions and job adverts? I hope so, because when you advertise a product to consumers you market/sell the characteristics, features, benefits and overall experience that ownership of that product brings. Jobs are products and candidates are consumers in my opinion, (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/jobs-products-candidates-consumers-colin-minto?trk=mp-author-card) and consumers are people in this instance.

People want to feel safe, comfortable, valued, excited, rewarded, happy and many other things in the workplace, and I can’t see or think of any other messaging that speaks to this more than a company’s commitment to the wellbeing of its employees.

So take a look at your latest job adverts, job descriptions, content on your career site etc. and see just how much wellbeing confirmation and celebration you can find! Maybe there’s room for more, given it’s what people want to see……

As always, happy to chat about mental health awareness and end to end digital attraction and resourcing strategy on +44 (0)7887 480142 and colin.minto@bigideatalent.com.

All the best.

Colin.

People are the jigsaw pieces of productivity in business!

people-jigsaw-2

Assume everyone in your business is equal in terms of the overall contribution they make, regardless of the role they perform!

Assume 100% productivity in business equals 100% business objectives achievement and 100% shareholder/stakeholder expectations met!

Divide 100% by the number of employees you should have working for your business, e.g. what you would confirm as full establishment. Effectively the completed jigsaw puzzle!

The answer is the percentage contribution that each individual employee makes in a given time period! For example 100% divided by 1,000 employees equals 0.1%.

Now you can do some interesting things and make some equally interesting assumptions.

Delete the individual % contribution for each person you are short from full establishment! This immediately shows how important it is to run as close to full establishment as possible at all times. Also visualise that incomplete jigsaw puzzle! Recruitment freeze anyone? Taking too long to hire by being reactive rather than strategic and proactive anyone? Without the right people in the right places your business could already be sub-optimal!

Imagine that the individual % contribution per employee is linked to them being the very best person for the role they are performing. Now imagine a sub-optimal resourcing strategy, EVP, remuneration policy or poor learning and development programme, or having great people but in the wrong roles…….. whatever essentially could affect the quality, motivation, commitment or output of your workers.

A subject that many of you know is close to my heart is diversity. We all know that difference is great for an organisation, so as we are visualising jigsaws, how much difference is in yours? Does a lack of diversity and too much of the same impact on individual % contribution?

It stands to reason that the individual % contribution of each worker could be reduced by a fraction, or worse, if you haven’t got some or any of the above right! Breaking down each person into a target % contribution is now a real eye opener.

How close are you then away from 100% productivity in business? How incomplete, or samey, is your jigsaw puzzle? What do you need to do to put things right?

Let’s take the resourcing strategy and function as an example. Surely ones resourcing strategy and service delivery model should be designed to fully support the achievement of the business plan, which in turn is designed to achieve 100% productivity in business.

But we hear and see so many examples of businesses not investing in workforce planning, or simply racing ahead with a career centre, digital media, employer brand, organisation design or technology project (for example), without potentially establishing what the ongoing resourcing needs and objectives are. Without a robust strategy aligned to the people and business plan!

We hear and see examples of businesses not having standard job descriptions, processes, attraction messaging, EVP, interview formats, onboarding……..… the list is endless.

Why is this? Is it because resourcing is talked about as being the most important thing in business because people are the most important asset, but in reality other things are prioritised and resourcing is under invested in?

Maybe. So let’s go back to people being the jigsaw pieces of productivity. If you want to achieve 100% productivity in business, consistently year on year, as a consequence of being truly strategic and inclusive, the solution is as clear as day and quite straightforward!

Invest in an optimum end to end resourcing strategy and function to ensure you have the right people, in the right places, in the right volumes, at the right time, for the right price!

Anything else is sub-optimal and puts pressure on achieving 100% productivity in business and your stakeholders/shareholders won’t like that!

Big Idea Talent - Six Pillar Talent Lifecycle

Oh and you won’t ever finish that jigsaw!

If you would like to spend a bit of time running through the six pillar talent lifecycle model, which is one way of achieving resourcing excellence, I’m on +44 (0)7887 480142 and colin.minto@bigideatalent.com

All the best.

Colin.

Let’s all be Wally’s!

wally

As you can imagine I have had countless meetings and discussions with people about mental health challenges in the workplace since ‘opening up’, and I always end up quoting something from the first Crocodile Dundee movie. I must add it always gets a laugh then an instant ‘penny drop’ realisation moment!

It’s obvious now why this quote resonated and has stuck with me but it carries with it some tremendous learning. Stay with me people I am being serious!!!

Here is the transcript from the movie after the subject of Shrinks came up at a party Sue and Mick were at:

Sue Charlton: People go to a psychiatrist to talk about their problems. She just needed to unload them. You know, bring them out in the open.

Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee: Hasn’t she got any mates?

Sue Charlton: You’re right. I guess we could all use more mates. I suppose you don’t have any shrinks at Walkabout Creek.

Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee: No back there if you got a problem you tell Wally. And he tells everyone in town, brings it out in the open, no more problem.

The penny drops as soon as I finish the last line.  “Yes”, people say and naturally realise that if more people talk ‘openly’ about mental health, it will become less of an issue to talk about mental health. Simple but effective.

It’s so obvious but you can understand why it’s harder to ‘open up’.

Firstly, it’s still a big taboo subject and many people that have experienced, or are currently experiencing, mental health challenges fear the potential recriminations of telling their story, or asking for support.

In addition, mental health challenges are classified as a hidden disability. Underline the word ‘hidden’. Many people keep their challenges hidden and they are not generally visible to the naked eye, unlike most other diversity areas, so the result is naturally a propensity to focus on the more overt subjects.

So let’s all be Wally’s. Let’s all start talking about mental health. I’m not suggesting everyone ‘opens up’, because it is a big decision to do so and not something that should be rushed into (believe me), although the more that do, the more visible the conversation will be!

So let’s talk about our knowledge of mental health, how our businesses embrace and harness difference, the positives that exists as a consequence of mental health illnesses, yes positives including; alternative ways of thinking, critical risk identification and advanced problem solving, and let’s just be more open about how we feel and how things that happen in daily life make us feel.

Let’s all be Wally’s and bring stuff out in the open and make them ‘no more problem’!

All the best.

Colin.

p.s. If you need a starting point, why not join the Mental Health in Business LinkedIn Networking Group!

p.p.s If you want to talk about performing a diagnostic on your business I’m on +44 (0)7887 480142 and colin.minto@bigideatalent.com