Did you know that from November 14th, disabled workers stop getting paid for the work they are doing until the new year?

We were shocked too. A new analysis from the Trades Union Congress discovered that disabled people effectively work for free for the last 47 days of the year due to the sizable pay gap between disabled and non-disabled workers. And what’s even more alarming is that this pay gap has actuallygrown over the last decade from 13.2% to 14.6%.

Disabled people make up 17.8% of England’s population – equivalent to 10.4 million people – and so a sizable percentage of these people are going to be of working age and, with the right reasonable adjustments, very willing and capable of working part- and full-time jobs.

But the problem that is making workplaces unattractive to diverse talent is the pay disparity they experience – and sadly, this isn’t just limited to disabled workers.

Employers who are actively taking steps to bridge this gap are the ones who are going to be the most attractive workplaces for diverse talent. It is already a well-known fact that diverse talent is good for business, so this should be a strategy that all companies are integrating.

Not only will diversifying your hires lead to wider innovative opportunities, but tapping into diverse talent pools such as disabled workers will play a huge part in plugging talent shortages and bridging emerging skills gaps.

A recent survey from the BBC of nearly 5000 companies found that 73% of these companies came across hiring difficulties during the July to September quarter of this year. Aside from the pandemic, this is one of the highest figures it has ever been!

So, what are the best way of overcoming these difficulties? Employers need to be targeting these pools of underused talent and hammering down on the pay disparity that groups like disabled workers continue to face. This will see employers bring in the best of talent from all corners of the market, and help strengthen and sustain their business well into the future.

If you would like to discuss how we can help tailor your hiring strategies and work towards closing the disability pay gap, please get in touch with us!

When we hear the word ‘bullying’, we tend to associate this with our school days. However, the sad truth is that more than one in ten people are bullied in their workplace.

Bullying behavior can be extremely damaging, whether this be through mental damage done to the employee suffering, or the knock-on effects this behavior has on the wider business (a toxic culture, lack of cohesion, drop in engagement levels).

However, how leader and HR professionals respond to bullying is so important in managing these ripple effects. Therefore, knowing the signs of this behavior is vital to mitigating the effects that it will have.

But firstly, what is bullying at work? The Workplace Bullying Institute defines bullying as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators that takes one or more of the following forms: verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behaviors (including nonverbal) which are threatening, humiliating, or intimidating; or work interference – sabotage – which prevents work from getting done.”

There are two things to note from this; the first is knowing the difference between someone who is generally not nice and someone who is a bully. Bullying is targeted (so towards the same person, or same group of people i.e. women, a certain ethnic group) and repeated, whereas if a manager is found to be mean to anyone and everyone and it isn’t targeted, then this is simply seen as a manager having an attitude problem. The second thing to note is that bullying can look different depending on the context it is happening in, which is why it’s important for leaders to know all the signs and different forms that bullying can take in order to intervene quickly and efficiently.

So, what are the signs?

Overt signs of bullying will look like a person being aggressive through yelling, shouting, or hitting objects. It can be punishing a specific employee undeservingly, belittling or embarrassing someone, or even threatening them with unwarranted punishment and/or termination. Additionally, actively blocking someone’s learning and development opportunities and campaigning against them to remove them from the organization all constitute as openly bullying an employee.

There are also more subtle, covert signs of bullying that leaders have to be aware of too. This can take the shape of shaming/guilting someone, pitting employees against each other, isolating/excluding someone on purpose, ignoring them, and deceiving them to get one’s way.

There is a tendency for bullying to come from managers and higher-ups to their direct reports. I have previously worked with a leader who was consistently angry and frequently yelled, and would lie to HR about the performance of a member of staff to get action taken to remove them from the company. HR, upon investigating, discovered that the leader was purposefully gatekeeping information from the employee that they needed to perform their job, which was yielding these subpar results, as well as scheduling meetings surreptitiously so that the individual would miss out on key exchanges.

In a case like this, or any instance of workplace bullying, HR must handle it as if handling any other employee relations issue – by conducting a thorough internal investigation and taking direct action upon the conclusion of this investigation, whether that be coaching, punishment, or even termination.

But employers can also go one step further, and instead of being reactive to bullying, they can be proactive in preventing it in the first place. This can be done through:

  • Developing a training program for middle managers and leadership on appropriate conduct and inclusivity.
  • Building processes into the fabric of the business on an organizational design level which interrupt biases and make the recruiting process more inclusive.
  • Ensuring that the yearly harassment training is incorporating specific training around how to recognise, respond to and mitigate bullying in the workplace in all its forms.
  • Having a thorough investigative process for investigating toxic leaders and/or employees.

Employers who are working towards creating a harmonious and inclusive workplace are the ones that are going to get the best out of their people – after all, happy employees are productive employees!

If you would like to discuss the anti-bullying training and workshops we offer, please get in touch with me at Brittany@orgshakers.com

This month, we have got our hands on a copy of Stephen Frost’s latest book, The Key to Inclusion. With input from authors who are experts in their field of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Stephen has put together and edited this practical guide with strong strategies, examples, and case studies demonstrating how to cultivate and embed an inclusive culture in your workplace.

The book is divided up into four parts which address the key topics surrounding DEI, as well as identifying and examining the drivers of inclusion:

Part One: Unlocking You

In the first part of his book, Stephen takes the reader through the concept of ‘cognitive load’ – which is the amount of information the working memory can hold at one time – and identifies this as a barrier to inclusion. For DEI to succeed in a workplace, leaders must recognize and adapt to their employees’ cognitive load and find ways of reducing it.

He then goes on to outline the formation of a ‘growth mindset’ and highlights how this is a key ingredient of an inclusive company, as well as how leaders can begin to develop cultural intelligence to foster an inclusive working environment.

Part Two: Unlocking Your Team

In the second part, Stephen zooms in on the ideal management practices that leaders can adopt to foster an inclusive environment, and he does this by looking at two key areas: the structure that leaders adopt for their teams and how the fourth industrial revolution – the introduction and assimilation of artificial intelligence and new technologies – influences these structures.

Part Three: Unlocking Your Organization

In the penultimate part, the focus is centred around rethinking strategy so that inclusion can be repositioned into the strategic fabric of the organization. This process is broken down into phases:

  • Diversity 101 (foundations) – incorporating the minimum legislative approach to diversity.
  • Diversity 2.0 (appearance) – ‘Taking a stand’, which is manifested in corporate messaging.
  • Inclusion 3.0 (interior structures) – Practicing diversity throughout all behaviors and layers of the organization.
  • Inclusion 4.0 – Overhauling the entire system and not simply incorporating an inclusion element.

The chapter then goes on to examine the key drivers of inclusion and how to interact with each of them, and these are data and measurement, governance, leadership, and system and processes, in addition to strategy from the previous part.

Part Four: Unlocking the Future

In the final part of Stephen’s book, he advises employers how they can look ahead to embed inclusion at the centre of technological, leadership, and problem-solving skills. This begins with finding the best way to measure your inclusion impact, and harnessing this data to create a roadmap for your inclusion initiatives.

He then goes on to contextualize this by industry, including tech, TV and film, and financial services.

The book takes the reader on a journey of inclusion, from understanding it at its foundations to making it a staple part of the foundations of an entire company. By doing so, employers can begin to unlock its power – and this book is the first step to finding that key.

If you would like to purchase a copy of Stephen’s book head over here for the UK and over here for the US.

If you would like to discuss how we can help implement a DEI and inclusion strategy, please get in touch with us.

Having a diverse workforce is a great thing for business; diversity in life experiences and perspectives open up new doors for healthy debate and potential innovation that will expand the economic horizons of an organization, resulting in higher performance and greater shareholder value.

However, having a diverse workforce can sometimes lead to inevitable conflict and be a wasted resource if not leveraged properly. People are unique, have grown up doing and believing different things, and managing this hodgepodge of workers with varying worldviews can sometimes feel like tiptoeing through a minefield – especially as an HR professional.

For employers, tapping into the power that a diverse workforce holds requires adept skills. Hiring an array of different people is a great first step, but if a company doesn’t know how to create an environment where everyone feels included and like they belong, then they will not gain access to the many benefits that a diverse team offers.

A key step to creating this environment is to promote a culture where everyone recognizes that all individuals bring value. Not everyone is going to agree with one another, and beliefs around politics, religion, and morality are going to differ, but by reminding staff that each individual brings value in some way, this helps create an environment that is more open to listening and learning rather than outright dismissing.

Encourage the concept of exploring differences as a strength or asset in the hopes of finding commonalities. Statistically, an employee isn’t going to be best friends with every single one of their co-workers, but employers have a responsibility of ensuring that they are creating a working environment that fosters respect and harmony.

Of course, there may be times where someone’s view on something may be harmful or perpetuate hate. In these instances, reporting this to your direct report is the best course of action so that HR can follow up and respond accordingly. But if someone’s worldview doesn’t create harm or an adverse impact for employees at work – but still some don’t see eye to eye – this is one of those times where ‘agreeing to disagree’ may be the best way forward.

People are becoming increasingly complex, and many employees are finally feeling more comfortable bringing their entire selves to work. But with this comes a new microcosm to navigate that employers must ensure they are on top of to avoid interactions spiralling into a much bigger issue than it might need to be.

What is important is placing a focus on these inclusive skills and harnessing them to create a cohesive and harmonious workplace. Managers who can coach the empathetic view of realizing that someone’s belief is true to them – even if it isn’t true to you – is a great way of helping employees understand and value differences of opinions.

And, at the end of it, the one thing every member of staff should have in common is their united goal to achieve the mission of the company they work for – so ensuring these goals are clear, concise, and communicated to each member of staff is a great tool for promoting unity.

If you would like to discuss how OrgShakers can help coach managers to create an environment that is not just diverse, but also inclusive to all, please get in touch with me at marty@orgshakers.com

This month’s book choice was inspired by the fact that today is World Dyslexia Awareness Day – which closes off Dyslexia Awareness Week. In the spirit of this, we got our hands on a copy of Kate Grigg’s This is Dyslexia.

Kate, who is dyslexic herself, is the founder and CEO of the charity Made By Dyslexia, acting as a leading voice in the charge to disrupt the world’s thinking around dyslexia and highlight how it can be a superpower in the workplace and the wider world.

Kate’s book, This is Dyslexia, expertly builds on this notion of dyslexia being a ‘superpower’, as she debunks all the common misconceptions around the topic and helps the reader to better understand how dyslexic people think. What’s great is that the entire book is written on cream coloured paper with pictures, charts, diagrams, and changeable text to help dyslexic people read through it and better retain the information. This way, it is an accessible read for all.

Along with varying mediums of information, the book also includes QR codes throughout that can be scanned and will take the reader to video interviews of famous people with dyslexia. There are also resources available at the back of the book for children, parents, teachers, and employers that can prove to be a very useful first step in understanding dyslexia on a deeper level.

Throughout the book, Kate highlights the importance of harnessing dyslexia as a skill rather than a drawback – along with all other forms of neurodivergent thinking – and goes on to demonstrate the many ways that this unique way of processing can be extremely beneficial for the workplace (such as problem-solving, creativity, and innovative thinking!).

With 10% of the population being dyslexic, and around 20% of people believed to be neurodivergent, the importance of employers educating themselves around these topics is vital for the bottom line, as an inclusive workplace environment can play to the strengths of these unique ways of thinking.

Kate’s book is a great start at getting to understand dyslexic thinking on a deeper, empathetic level, and will help leaders better grasp how to support and optimize those staff with dyslexia.

You can purchase your copy of This is Dyslexia in the UK here and in the US here.

And if you would like to discuss how OrgShakers can support you in creating a neurodivergent-friendly working environment, please get in touch with us!

Maxine Lynskey, a former consultant for Direct Line, was recently awarded over £64,000 in damages after a tribunal ruled her menopause symptoms as a ‘disability’ under the 2010 Equality Act when her former employer failed to make the correct reasonable adjustments.

After working there for 4 years, she began to experience consistent menopausal symptoms of concentration and memory loss, feeling frequently tearful, and ‘brain fog’. Maxine was transferred to a lower-paid role which was felt would be less challenging for her.

As she continued to struggle in her new role, she was placed on a performance-improvement plan. Despite mentioning her symptoms repeatedly to her direct report, HR were not informed that there were any reasons for her sudden shift in performance.

Click the link below to read the full piece at HR Magazine:


While huge strides continue to be made in regard to the treatment of HIV, in the US there are an estimated 1.3 million people who are HIV positive. In the UK, that figure is around 100,000.

Despite the fact that the disease is no longer steeped in the stigma it once was, taboos still pervade around being diagnosed and living with HIV. And the fact is, it has now become something that someone can live with without having any complications, meaning they can live and work just like anyone else.

However, there is still a drought of information and awareness around the disease that can lead to many HIV-positive people feeling uncomfortable with disclosing their status at work and having access to necessary resources.

So, what can employers do to challenge the taboos surrounding HIV?

1. Educate and Raise Awareness

The first step is the most obvious: educate your workforce and raise awareness about the virus. Provide training sessions or workshops to help employees understand what HIV is, how it’s transmitted, and dispel common myths and misconceptions surrounding it. This will help reduce stigma around the topic and instead foster a sense of empathy which, at the same time, will strengthen your people’s power skills.  

2. Encourage Open Communication

Managers who can build trust with their team and present themselves as approachable will be able to find it easier to start a dialogue with staff. This will enable HIV-positive workers to feel more confident in disclosing their status, and they should then be reassured that this disclosure will remain confidential so that their privacy can be respected. This ensures that the employee is getting any necessary support and accommodations without any fear of judgement.

3. Flexible Working Arrangements

Recognize that employees with HIV may have medical appointments and treatments that require a level of flexibility in their work schedule. Offering remote working hours or adjusted working arrangements can help accommodate these needs without having to compromise their job performance.

4. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

EAPs should have tailored resources to support individuals with HIV. This can include access to specialized mental health services, or the appropriate charities and organizations who can better externally support these needs.

5. Regularly Review and Update Policies

Employers should be periodically reviewing their workplace policies in relation to long-term illnesses such as HIV to ensure they remain current and remain aligned with best practices and legal requirements. They can even communicate with HIV positive staff member(s) to help refresh these policies and ensure they are properly reflecting their needs.

Recognizing and understanding how best to support those who are HIV-positive in the workplace is a great way of reinforcing your values of inclusivity and support. This will help to create a culture at work that empowers employees from all walks of life, and ensures that they are their most productive, as well as being their most fulfilled and appreciated.

If you would like to discuss how we can help train your team around these issues, and help craft and implement inclusivity policies, please get in touch with us.

Over 1 in 4 of the population are struggling to access the services and products they need … that’s around 18 million people in the UK!

And although the term ‘accessibility’ is nothing new, it can be hard to pin down exactly what it means to your organisation or business. 

This is because when people hear ‘accessibility’ they tend to think ‘disability’.

It is, however, important for employers to get beyond this ambiguity and focus on creating inclusive experiences that can be accessed by everybody. 

So, the first step is to understand what accessibility really means: ‘Ensuring people can do what they need to do in (approximately) the same time as someone who does not have an accessibility need’.  

Secondly, leaders need to understand what their consumers and employee’s accessibility needs are so they can work out how best to accommodate for them. To do this we have identified 8 potential barriers to accessibility that need to be considered:  

  • Hearing12 million adults are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus, which is estimated to increase to 14.2 million by 2035.  
  • Speech – This includes those with speech impediments, those who are physically unable to speak and those who are non-verbal.   
  • Dexterity22% of working age adults in the UK have issues with dexterity.  
  • VisionOver 2 million people in the UK have sight loss, and 1 in 5 will live with sight loss in their lifetime. 
  • Language – There are over 300 different languages spoken in schools across the UK, with many people not speaking English as their first language. Therefore, it is likely that for many people applying for jobs and using services, there may be a potential language barrier that is making these things inaccessible.  
  • Cognitive Processing – This includes those that suffer from memory disorders, or those who process information at different speeds due to many factors (such as proficiency or neurodivergence). 
  • Digital Competency – Technology designers work hard to ensure that the user experience is easy to grasp as possible – for example many of the icons we use every day have been inspired by their traditional ‘physical’ counterparts; folder, camera, mail, etc. However, some of the most basic elements of tech may not be as intuitive – for example, if you didn’t know the symbol for the On/Off button would you be able to guess?!
    As a result, more than 1 in 5 in the UK still lack the means or skills they need to effectively operate in today’s digital world.
  • Care and Commitments – There are as many as 10.6 million unpaid carers in the UK, and these people find themselves dealing with an array of accessibility barriers, especially from a cyber security perspective. For example, they are an acting representative for someone where often data security makes it hard to complete tasks.

Without doubt, accessible services are widely underdeveloped from a business perspective. But there is a huge opportunity to both impact the bottom line and positively impact brand image and consumer loyalty. 

Marketing experts will tell you that 95% of consumers say that customer service has an impact on brand loyalty and that 41% of consumers will abandon a brand after two bad digital interactions. To put a figure on this, it’s estimated that £17.1 billion a year is lost due to people abandoning online shopping because of accessibility barriers. 

Now apply this mindset to accessible consumers who will, more often than not, struggle on a day-to-day basis with life’s basics. When they are treated with care and consideration and are able to achieve what they set out to do with relative ease, they naturally form strong emotional bonds that go beyond logic and rationality. This phenomenon has been dubbed ‘loyalty beyond reason’.  

The truth is accessibility is a broad term that encompasses many more factors than many employers realise, and of course no one-size turnkey solution exists. But if you take time to look, you will see that all big software providers are now providing accessibility features on their platforms. Not only is this a sign that they have recognised both the issues (and the potential) surrounding accessibility, these changes also provide the rest of the business world an opportunity to utilise these tools to their advantage. 

The key is stepping back and taking time to understanding the context in which a consumer or employee with accessibility needs is operating. Once you have this and begin to apply it to your business context, then you can begin the journey of incremental steps steadily adapting your ways of working and service provision. 

If you would like to discuss the topic of accessibility in more detail and how it can make your business brand stronger, more profitable and sustainable, please get in touch with me at gavin.jones@orgshakers.com  

When I first started my job, I wasn’t exactly fluent in workplace jargon. I had just graduated from university and hadn’t ever been in a corporate environment, and straight off the bat there were acronyms being thrown around that I would surreptitiously google so not to seem out of the loop.

For example, a term that we use a lot is ‘BD’ – which I now know stands for business development. However, when I first joined, I’d never heard the phrase, and told myself I would ask what it stood for. I subsequently forgot, and then when the next meeting rolled around a fortnight later it was already too late.

Now, it obviously wasn’t too late – but in my dramatic, Gen Z, new worker brain, the idea of admitting I didn’t know something that I had been pretending to know the whole time was mortifying.

Interestingly, a recent study has found that workplace jargon makes 48% of Gen Z and Millennial workers feel less included in the workplace, and 46% of them cited how this barrier to understanding had led them to make a mistake at work.

This can lead to communication barriers, productivity stunting, and a general lack of cohesion in the workplace. But is the solution as simple as teaching new, younger employees this jargon so that they can begin to speak the language?

The short answer is no – and this is because younger people now have an entire language of their own.

We have dubbed this non-verbal online language as ‘Cybernese’. It is essentially online etiquette, but to those who find themselves in Gen X or above, there are a lot of meanings hidden in things that may seem completely harmless. For example, emojis may seem straight forward, but they are a minefield of double-entendres that could be HR horror stories waiting to happen if someone isn’t well-versed in this digital tongue. The language even spans to things such as Zoom backgrounds or punctuating sentences (if you text a Gen Z worker with full stops at the end of your messages, it’s more than likely they will assume you are being passive aggressive, even though this is just grammar!).

What we’re seeing is two older generations using old-fashioned lingo that younger workers don’t understand, and two younger generations who have got their own online language that more midlife workers have not come to grips with yet. So, what can employers do to create an inclusive environment for all?

The best approach would be to know a bit of both. Workplace jargon is not a necessity, but much like a habit, it would be hard to suddenly quit using it cold turkey. And besides, it has euphemistic tendencies which make communicating tasks easier, so it can be a positive thing. But if you’re going to use it, be considerate to your audience. If you’re talking to an employee who you know is familiar with these terms, then go right ahead. If you’re talking to a new or younger employee, then it might be best to avoid them to mitigate the risk of things getting lost in translation.

When it comes to Cybernese however, it may be worth employers making the extra effort to ensure that all their staff members are up to speed with this emerging language. This is because as remote and hybrid work settles into normalcy, a lot of communication and interaction between colleagues will be happening virtually. Here, it will be important to become well-versed in Cybernese so that communication is clear and appropriate (you can check out our video for how to avoid emoji-geddon for some examples of this).

If employers are able to recognise and understand the best ways of communicating with members of staff, they will be able to give them the clarity that is so important to ensuring productivity and high-quality output. To discuss how we can help you ensure your culture has inclusion at its core, please get in touch with us.

With today marking the start of World Breastfeeding Week, now is the time that organizations should be ensuring they are providing a positive workplace environment for those nursing that will benefit them all year round.

People that are still breastfeeding when returning to work will need to express breast milk between 8-10 times over a 24-hour period. In the US, it is a legal requirement for employers to provide a private space to express, as well as allowing their breastfeeding employees to take breaks as frequently as necessary. These facilities must be available for at least a year, and this set of policies are known as the federal Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law. However, there can be regional differences to these laws; for example, in the state of Colorado there is no set amount of time a company must cater for the needs of those breastfeeding.

New Zealand and parts of Canada follow a very similar approach, with employers required to provide the appropriate facilities for anyone breastfeeding.

In the UK, however, there is currently no formal legal requirement for a workplace to provide such facilities. As a result, it was reported last year that a Member of Parliament, Stella Creasy, had been criticized for bringing her baby son to her workplace – the Houses of Parliament in London – while she was still breastfeeding him. Shortly after, Ms Creasy received an official notice stating that she should not take her seat in the debating chamber with a child – a notice she subsequently published on Twitter to highlight the issue surrounding the lack of support for women in this same position at work.

While there is guidance from the Health and Safety Executive which recommends that a clean environment (that is not a bathroom) be supplied, there is an opportunity for employers in the UK to take responsibility for supporting the needs of their nursing employees.

The importance of women having a space to breastfeed at work is vital for their health and safety. There is a risk of swelling and soreness if a woman doesn’t express when needed, and in extreme cases this can lead to a bacterial infection called mastitis.

The embedding of inclusion policies for breastfeeding can help remove the pervading stigma that is clearly still attached to those nursing in some workplaces and, in turn, help create an even safer and more inclusive workplace culture overall. Whether there are laws in place or not, it is also about employers ensuring they are adopting the right attitudes towards breastfeeding, and that their teams are as well.

There are common misconceptions around breastfeeding a lot of the time, one of these being that when women go to express, they are ‘taking a break’ and/or ‘wasting time’ at work. But it is important for staff to be educated around the realities of expressing, and how it can be a tiring and somewhat uncomfortable thing to be doing multiple times a day (to the point where women are burning an additional 500 calories a day when breastfeeding!).

This ideology also completely undermines the fact that those expressing are not able to multitask while doing so. Considering there are a wide range of breast pumps available on the market now – including hands-free pumps – women are able to work on reports, catch up with emails, make calls…all while pumping. So ensuring that your teams and your managers are educated around the realities of expressing is just as important for creating a safe space for female colleagues to do so.

This is without mentioning the business case for this support, which can lead to a reduced absence rate and higher retention rates from those working mothers who feel recognized and valued.

With the US, Canada, and New Zealand leading the way in accommodating the needs of breastfeeding workers, executives around the world should seize the opportunity to show leadership in their countries. For advice on how to approach the implementation of these strategies, you can contact me directly at stephanie.rodriguez@orgshakers.com

Workplace friendships can be joyous, enduring relationships contributing to personal and professional success. It’s how we manage them that matter.

Regularly spending time with the same people is likely to result in platonic relationships forming. Such friendships can foster innovation and psychological safety, as well as encourage collaboration, adaptability, vulnerability, healthy competition, and humility – skills that businesses should seek to optimise.

In fact, a study confirms that 76.13% of employees have at least one close friend at work and many organisational psychologists recognise the benefits of social-emotional connections at work.

So, what role does friendship play in the workplace? Is it crucial to have a close team inside and outside of the office? Is there a balance to be struck?

Of course, there are potential drawbacks from having interpersonal relationships. Personal lives can impact the workplace, and the line between colleague and friend can sometimes blur the distinction between professional and private life. Dynamics change as reporting lines do and suddenly a friendship becomes strained, and leadership becomes more challenging.

The most successful and high-performing teams I’ve worked with had respect for each other, clear accountabilities, enjoyed a similar humour and had a focus on communication and collaboration. They had an alignment of values that bound them.

Employers can and should strive to create cohesion. Workplace friendships can be a positive force, but also potentially a disruptive one. Friendships will form organically but careful consideration may be given regarding recruitment and the culture companies are creating. Value alignment is particularly powerful as employers want their people to have some common ground, enough to build trust, honesty with each other and the ability to both challenge and support. This foundation creates a positive environment to engage, innovate and communicate effectively.

The key in workplace friendships is the skill of setting and working with boundaries to maintain both professionalism and friendship. You can coach your employees to feel confident in this. With boundaries in place, you can mitigate the risk of personal problems making their way into the office.

While friendship at work isn’t necessarily an important thing for all, nurturing an environment where friendship is possible in a professional context can reap rewards. What blossoms into friendship beyond work is a plus, but more critical is a focus on recruiting people with diverse perspectives but similar values. This can foster innovation and productive teams who can support and challenge each other to create a positive place to work.

Think of your own group of friends. You’re not all carbon copies of each other, right?

If you would like to discuss how we can help you find this balance in your hiring practices, workplace culture, and team and individual coaching, please get in touch with me at joanna.tippins@orgshakers.com

Last year, Ketanji Brown Jackson made history as she became the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court. And while her experience, expertise, and skill all warrant her place there, none of this would have even truly been taken into consideration if President Biden hadn’t nominated her.

It can be somewhat bittersweet, as it plays into this ‘white savior’ narrative that without a public endorsement from a powerful White figure, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson would not have achieved this feat. However, the fact is that disparity still runs rampant, so while the battle against systemic racism continues on, it is so important for those White people who are in positions of power to wield this power responsibly.

The same idea is also true for the corporate world. On many occasions, I have noticed managers or executives taking certain members of staff under their wing. This “sponsorship” gives those staff members who have been selected by the executive access to more opportunities and more chances to climb the corporate ladder in comparison to their other colleagues.

Now the issue with this informal sponsorship is that it is riddled with disparities. Typically, it’s the same type of people who are being offered this advantage, but this trend goes relatively unnoticed. Employers identifying strong candidates and wanting to help them grow their career isn’t a bad thing, but there needs to be more diversity. Different types of people need to be given these opportunities to grow and accelerate their careers, not just from a social perspective, but from a business perspective as well.

Racially diverse companies have been proven to be 35% more likely to outperform other organizations. Having a C-suite that is comprised of the same type of people, with the same ideas and perspectives, will halt any opportunity for innovation to take place. Alternatively, being intentional about sponsoring different employees at entry-level and helping accelerate them to managerial roles will make all the difference to this. New ideas will be considered, new perspectives will be heard, and new markets will become accessible.

But much like Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s story, what we’re seeing in the world of work isn’t a lack of qualified professionals, it’s a lack of access. In the UK, Black employees hold just 1.5% of top management roles in the private sector, while in the US, Black workers make up 7.8% of management positions – compared to 83.6% of White workers. This highlights the importance of those that are in executive positions in a company, as they are the ones who are responsible for ensuring that their C-suites and boards are diverse and accessible to all, which directly links to the sustainability of their business.

As it stands, we have a way to go before opportunities are truly equal and accessible to all. So until then, it is crucial that those who have power are using it to make these opportunities more attainable. Much like President Biden using his platform to endorse Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, recognizing the power of diverse talent is step one; paving the path for this talent to thrive is the next step. On Black Leaders Awareness Day, this message is more important than ever to remember. If you would like to discuss how to start embedding diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into the fabric of your business, please get in touch with me at marty@orgshakers.com

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