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Mental Health Bias in the Workplace: Understanding Mental Health

By | Insight, Latest News

As published by the Mental Health Foundation about 1 in 7 people experience mental health problems in the workplace. Additionally, women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men (19.8% vs 10.9%). Evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.

Of course, the term ‘mental health’ is such a broad term, and thus any attempt to explore the impact of mental health bias at work should start by defining this broad term. As stressed by the mental health campaign, Time to Change, “learning a few things about mental health problems might help you to feel more confident about talking and listening”. Time to Change sets out some common mental health conditions:

  • Anxiety & panic attacks: Anxiety is a normal    emotion that we all experience but becomes a mental health problem when someone finds they are feeling this way all or most of the time;
  • Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder is a diagnosis given to someone who experiences extreme periods of low (depressed) and high (manic) moods;
  • Depression: Depression is a diagnosis given to someone who regularly experiences a low mood and finds it hard or impossible to have fun or enjoy their lives;
  • Eating disorders: An eating disorder is a diagnosis given to someone who has unhealthy thoughts, feelings and behaviour about food and their body shape;
  • Personality disorders: If someone has a personality disorder, some aspects of their personality might
    affect them in a way which makes it very difficult to cope with day to day life, especially when it comes to relationships.

Bias and Mental Health

Research by social psychologists Tajfel and Turner, highlights how we as human beings, and thus employers, have a tendency to divide the world into in-groups and out-groups, based on a set of both conscious stereotypes and implicit bias. These biases often result in mental health stigma. Social stigma, as stressed by the sociologist Erving Goffman arises from negative attitudes and discriminating behaviour, based on common stereotypes such as:

  • People with mental illness are dangerous and unpredictable: This is the most prevalent stereotype about people with mental health conditions. It is reinforced on a daily basis by the media;
  • People with mental illness are incompetent: This stereotype is also very pervasive. Popular media furthers this stereotype by portraying people with mental illness as wildly irrational or childlike;
  • People with mental illness deserve blame for their conditions: This can be expressed as people with mental illness as weak or having character flaws that lead to their conditions;
  • People with mental illness have little hope for recovery: This stereotype would have you believe that a person with a mental illness is irretrievably damaged.

These biases impact employers’ perceptions of people with mental health issues resulting in:

  1. Not wanting to employ people with mental health conditions
  2. Not assigning certain types of work to colleagues with mental health conditions
  3. Avoidance by co-workers
  4. Name calling and talking behind people’s backs

Research by the YMCA found that two thirds (66%) of young people have heard harmful words relating to mental health. Many young people say it is simply part of everyday language, with ‘psycho’, ‘retard’ and ‘attention seeker’ being among the most commonly used words.

Covering at work

This type of language has a profound impact on an employee’s sense of self, resulting in Covering at work. The term ‘covering’ was coined by Goffman as part of his work on stigma. Covering is a strategy through which individuals manage or downplay their differences. In a paper entitled ‘Uncovering Talent: A new model of inclusion’ by Deloitte University, the authors have identified four ways in which covering at work manifests:

  1. Appearance: Covering up aspects of ones’ appearance, including attire and mannerisms.
  2. Affiliation-based covering: This may take the form of not talking about medical appointments or not wanting to support mental health related work events or talks for fear of being outed.
  3. Advocacy-based covering: Not wanting to outwardly be an advocate for mental health issues at work. Not ‘sticking up for’ mental health issues or colleagues with known conditions. This results in down-playing their own condition.
  4. Association-based covering: For instance, not wanting to attend disability or mental health employee network groups for fear of being exposed and discriminated against.

Mitigating mental health bias at work

In order to mitigate social bias at work employers should adopt the following 6 tips:

  1. Review your recruitment polices and at work processes to ensure they do not discriminate against people with mental health conditions
  2. Train hiring managers to be mental health aware
  3. Create an inclusive work environment by educating employees on the nature of mental health conditions – focus on myth busting
  4. Proactively challenge negative stereotypes and attitudes amongst work colleagues
  5. Provide a platform for mental health role models
  6. Ensure mental health inclusion is central to your workplace diversity and inclusion goals.

Notes:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-mental-health-work

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/about-mental-health/types-problems

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_identity_theory

This list of common stereotypes is taken from: http://scattergoodfoundation.org/stereotypes#.Wrj-GBiZPR0

Yoshino, K and Smith C. Uncovering Talent: A New Model for Inclusion. Deloitte University: The Leadership Centre for Inclusion. 2013

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Dan is highly respected as a subject matter expert on workplace diversity & inclusion, unconscious bias and inclusive leadership.
Contact Dan to find out how you can mitigate mental health bias in your organisation. e: dan@vercidaconsulting.com

INEXEC Brexit Breakfast

By | CFO+Finance, Latest News

This October saw Investigo host the latest breakfast seminar in our Executive Leadership Forum series. Held in partnership with KPMG and Lloyds Banking Group, at ‘The Vineyard’, Brexit was the topic tabled for discussion. Providing the insight was Hann-Jo Ho, Senior Economist at Lloyds Banking Group and Brian Connell, one of KPMG’s ‘Brexperts’.

Hann-Ju Ho, is part of the Economics and Market Insight team of Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. His role requires in-depth analysis and forecasting of key economic data and assessing their impact on central bank policy and financial markets. He was, therefore, ideally placed to provide some insight into the effects that Brexit is having to both our economy and across Europe so far for our gathered guests. From the effects of a weaker pound on imports to household incomes and investment uncertainty. As the negotiations continue and the possibility of either ‘no deal’ or an extension are being tabled as options. Hann-Ju and his team are poised forecasting and reforecasting possible outcomes on the economy based on current trends as the economy responds to each headline. It is, as our speakers said, our “first Brexit” and efforts to negate any negative impacts of Brexit to businesses is at this stage done speculatively.

It was in this theme that Brian Connell one of KPMG’s ‘Brexperts’ addressed the audience. Brian himself comes from a Supply Chain background and is currently supporting a diverse client base. Looking not only at supply chain issues, but also the tax, people and regulatory impacts of Brexit on our businesses. He is also a former Councillor and parliamentary candidate, giving a valuable point of view into the political process.

After the referendum result Brian and his colleagues at KPMG were forecasting three possible outcomes as equally possible at 33.3% each:

A deal is reached. The legalities are agreed before Christmas and we leave March 2019.

Unintentional no deal. Where there is the ambition of a deal but something goes wrong late in the process. (regulations, one side walks away, deal is voted against)

No deal.

Response to the current situation means that this has been revised to reflect the ongoing challenges the British politicians face with ‘No deal’ being forecast as 45% likely.

The preference for businesses, as reflected by clients Brian has consulted with, is that we leave the EU with a deal in place. Preparation for leaving, however, is somewhat varied. As Brian put it “big decisions are not being made”. Why is this? In his experience it is uncertainty alongside unknown workforce restrictions, faith that suppliers/clients are themselves prepared and possible tariff and regulation changes. This combination means many companies remain in a state of limbo when it comes to future plans.

Whilst businesses favour a Brexit deal to be in place before leaving in 2019 they are not the ones at the negotiating table. As a former Councillor, Brian was able to shed some insight into the complexities of the politician’s position. They are limited by their ability to sell a deal to their respective parties, the public and the EU itself. The reality of a ‘no deal’ becomes more plausible because a deal does not exist that meets the requirements of all the groups.

As Brexit negotiations continue we are all left speculating as to whether we leave the EU with or without a deal in place and the impact this will have on us after March 2019. If you would like more information on this session or future InEXEC events hosted by Investigo please contact Giles McIntyre on Giles.McIntyre@investigo.co.uk

Investigo Launches New Executive Brand

By | Investigo Executive, Latest News

With a proven track record in the recruitment of Executive level positions, Investigo have launched their Executive brand to showcase their offering to their diverse client portfolio, which ranges from SME’s through to FTSE 100 organisations and PE backed companies. The brand brings together the most experienced consultants in the search and selection field at Investigo. The team of specialist partners have established close relationships with their networks through providing outstanding service, coupled with their genuine passion to align leaders with their destined organisation.

Working across selected specialist markets; Accountancy and Finance, Business Change and Transformation, Procurement, Real Estate, Facilities & Workplace, Strategy and Technology – the practice leads take a collaborative approach and use their extensive network to identify exceptional leaders to work with exceptional businesses.

Nick Baxter, CEO, commented: “The world today has become increasingly smaller in many ways with the advancement of technology and worldwide mobility. However, the challenge to find leaders who possess the experience and skillset required, along with the right organisational fit, continues to be apparent. Our Executive offering brings our most experienced people together, along with their established networks in a truly collaborative approach to position unique leaders. The process undertaken at this level of seniority is extensive, with the ultimate goal to find an individual and business whose motivations and aspirations are mirrored resulting in the ultimate match. Our aim at Investigo is to make a difference and this exciting next step for the Executive part to our business portfolio will continue to do so for the benefit of both our clients and candidates.”

To coincide with the launch of the new brand, Investigo has also launched a website dedicated to the new united offering as well as an event portfolio targeted at the Exec market. The first INEXEC event will be Executive Finance Leadership Forum, ‘Brexit Breakfast’, taking place 18th October. The event will be hosted by Investigo, Brian Connell, ‘Brexpert’ from KPMG will host the session on the impact of Brexit to businesses, whilst Hann-Ju Ho, Senior Economist at Lloyds Banking Group will look at trends in major world economies. To find out more about our future INEXEC events, please contact Giles.McIntyre@investigo.co.uk

Are diversity quotas necessary for us to reach equality?

By | Investigo Executive, Latest News

Diversity and Inclusion continues to be a core focus for businesses globally, with many introducing informal diversity targets within their recruitment processes. The introduction of formal diversity quotas to accelerate gender parity was discussed at our Diversity and Inclusion breakfast networking event held yesterday at Furniture Makers’ Hall. Hosted by Dan Robertson from Vercida Consulting and attended by over 70 attendees, the discussion covered a novel yet emerging topic for many businesses looking to improve their diversity ratios.

As a specialist Diversity and Organisational Development consultant, Dan drew light on the increasing number of women on UK boards – since 2011 this has more than doubled to 29% from 12.5% as well as the increase in the number of women in executive positions. Whilst encouraging figures, the 2017 World Economic Forum report found that gender equality can only be attained in an estimated 217 years as opposed to the 170 years reported in 2016. Similarly, the representation of ethnic minority candidates at Board level (only 85 of the 1,050 director positions in FTSE 100) and BAME candidates in senior management positions (only 6%) were discussed. So why wasn’t this improving despite companies’ increased awareness and efforts to improve the ratios was hotly discussed.

The key point to note for organisations looking to improve their diversity must begin with collecting relevant data around the recruitment and hiring process. This data can be analysed to find trends, patterns and hiring styles prevalent within existing processes and determine the key blockers to a diverse employee pool. Understanding why a person has been shortlisted, interviewed or appointed and the micro behaviours that drove the hiring process, can help organisations devise a strategy on whether to introduce diversity quotas formally or informally. Conversely, not collating any statistics carries the implication that this is not on a key item on an organisation’s agenda.

Dan’s opinion on introducing formal diversity quotas was to probably consider implementing them for a certain period of time to accelerate equalising gender ratios. However, whether these are explicitly communicated like Lloyds Bank, PwC (banning all-male shortlists), BBC (banning all-white shortlists in middle/senior management posts) or informally communicated to recruitment agencies is a matter of preference as well as an indication of the seriousness exhibited by companies. Either way, there are several approaches that can be adopted including:

  • Market forces approach
  • Soft PA
  • Positive action
  • Target setting
  • Quota setting

Interestingly, Section 159 of the Equality Act 2010 enables an employer to afford a more favourable treatment to a candidate with a protected characteristic who suffers a disadvantage or is under-represented as opposed to someone without such a characteristic. However, this can only be exercised if both candidates are equally qualified with comparable experience and only if the company has demonstrative evidence of gender inequality collected over the preceding 12 months.

Dan went on to outline some steps that companies could adopt as part of improving their current processes:

  • Job Design: reviewing for language bias – removing words like ‘gravitas’ which traditionally attracted male candidates; including diverse images attracted diverse candidate shortlists
  • Candidate attraction: by setting targets both internally and through your supply chain, i.e., your recruitment partners
  • Shortlisting: by adopting blind recruitment strategies, i.e., removing name, university etc. and assessing a candidate’s merit as they are – this strategy has been adopted by EY for graduate hiring
  • Interviewing: using pre-set and uniform questions
  • De-briefing: using aggregate scoring methods and adopting a ‘Devil’s advocate’ who has the authority to influence change

By embedding some or all of the above steps as well as reviewing key leadership criteria, companies can succeed in improving their existing diversity ratios. However, in order for an organisation to effect such a positive change, it has to have the right leadership, right systems and the right culture. By understanding the positive impact that an organisation will have by sponsoring diverse talent as well as ensuring this remains visible across all echelons of a company, change will occur steadily and hopefully not too slowly!

This Investigo Network event is part of a series of events we are hosting to bring insight to our clients and candidates, on topics that are relevant in today’s business world.

If you would like to learn more about the events and publications being released for the Investigo Network please contact Lisa Holberton on lisa.holberton@investigo.co.uk

Career International invests in Investigo

By | Latest News
Career International (CI), who listed in mid 2017 on the Shenzhen stock exchange, have announced a strategic partnership with Investigo Ltd with the purchase of 52.5% of the company’s shares. The acquisition of a controlling interest is CI’s first significant investment since last year’s listing and increases the group’s headcount to c1800 staff.

CI was established in 1996 by Wallace Gao and 3 other partners and now has a network of 86 offices working out of 7 countries in China and South-East Asia. The investment in Investigo is the group’s first acquisition in the west.

Wallace Gao is very excited about the possibilities for the future: “In order for CI to become a leading player in the global human capital market place, we recognise that the UK is probably the most sophisticated and competitive market in the world. As a result, the UK has not only been a great innovator of ideas but also an exporter of talent across the world. Our aim therefore was to invest in a business with an exceptional track-record of success together with a leadership team who would continue the growth story and be able to take us in to Continental Europe. Having looked seriously at a number of organisations, Investigo stood out amongst the crowd.”

The new company will be chaired by Gary Watson who promoted Nick Baxter into the CEO role in October 2017. Watson shares Gao’s optimism for the strategic partnership: “Investigo was established in 2003 with an entrepreneurial mindset and a focus on providing permanent and interim solutions in a number of specialist niche markets. We believe that relationships lie at the heart of our success together with a commitment to recruit and retain experts in each discrete market.”

As a result, Investigo has distinguished itself by growing top line every year since the company’s inception – even throughout the global financial crisis. Baxter explains: “Our entrepreneurial approach has enabled us to offer a market-leading LTIP and so reward those leaders who help to create real value. Our MBO in 2013 (which was backed by Investec) was a great success and provided the platform for us to not only reward and retain key people but also to attract the entrepreneurs to help fuel our future growth. Having successfully delivered 2 LTIP’s to our wider management team in 2013 and now 2018, our third LTIP in 2022 is set to be the most attractive and lucrative yet, both for our existing people and any entrepreneur joining Investigo from 2018 onwards.”

The approach from CI came out of the blue. Watson explains: “To be frank, at that stage, we were well down the path with PE and debt funders. We had envisaged that our 3rd deal in 2022 might be a trade sale but in the meantime, we wanted to maintain our independence by being masters of our own destiny. The only exception we would allow ourselves was a light touch trade investment – and once we got to know CI by spending time with Wallace and the rest of his leadership team, it became a very straight-forward decision.”

Investigo’s CEO Nick Baxter joined the company in 2006 and has seen the company evolve and strengthen in so many ways. “Our new and exciting 2022 business strategy will strengthen Investigo’s position as one of the leading specialist contingent recruiters in the UK. It will enable our people to continue developing their careers, be rewarded for their success and be known as experts in their markets. We are excited by what the future holds because culture, people and focus will continue to be at the heart of everything we do. As well as focusing on organic growth, our plan to open in new locations and new niche markets is supported by a market-leading LTIP which is designed to attract entrepreneurially-minded individuals who believe they can create real value within a 5 year time frame. If you back yourself and believe you can make a difference, we’d love to hear from you.”

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