Tag Archives: neurodiversity

Procurement Professionals: Get Your Blinkers Off!

Reluctant or unsure about driving greater diversity and inclusion in your procurement teams and the organisation at large? You need to take your blinkers off!

Simon Burt/ Shutterstock

When it comes to implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace it can be difficult to know where to begin.

And perhaps you’re equally skeptical that your actions could even have a significant impact?

But when we were joined last month by Timo Worrall, Senior Category Manager, Facilities Management – Johnson & Johnson; Julie Gerdeman, General Manager, SAP Ariba and Darren Swift (Swifty), Inspirational Speaker, The Drive Project & Blesma Ambassador for our latest Procure-with-Purpose webinar all three speakers quickly put these doubts to rest…

The Facts

People with learning differences

“Just 6  per cent of young people with a learning difficulty are actually in employment which is a burden on society and for individual and their family,” explained Timo.

“These people are often willing but unable to work because we don’t give them the chance to get a foot in the door. They can’t find work because they can’t find work experience. We are often unwilling as big corporations to accept their differences. But they can do the work and they can also be very loyal. The barrier to entry isn’t them, it’s us.”

Veterans:

The Drive Project’s Veterans Work report found that three in ten businesses admit they have not even considered employing veterans. While the majority claim to be more open minded, 60 per cent of businesses rule out recruiting someone if they have no industry specific experience.

There are roughly 700,000 veterans currently in employment, over half find themselves in routine, low-skilled or low-paid jobs.

Neurodiversities 

“Individuals who are neurodiverse or on the autistic spectrum are underused source of talent with great skillsets that our leaders are seeking on their teams,” argues Julie. “There is a constant need for great talent and a unique point of view.”

Starting small is ok

“I have always been a huge advocate and proponent for diversity of thought,” explained Julie. “I’m one of nine children and so growing up I lived with lots of different opinions and personalities and thoughts and I saw the amazing environment that that created. And so I brought that with me to the workplace.

“I wanted to contribute to change. I volunteered to become the global exec sponsor for D and I at SAP Ariba. I started with a gender focus but it has evolved to become something much bigger and much broader.

“At SAP Ariba we think it’s ok to start small. It’s really ok. We started D and I [initiatives] with employees’ passions. [People who said] ‘this is what we’re passionate about.’ Welcoming and embracing personal passions into the professional workplace in a small way  blossomed into bigger, more formalised programs and from there we built a D and I framework to drive a more inclusive workplace”

As Timo explains, measuring success isn’t just about measuring numbers. “It’s easy to get bogged down in numbers and spend reports.” explained Timo. “[At Johnson & Johnson we are] trying to use story-telling and build business cases around the work we are doing. Talking about meaningful impact is a lot more powerful than just numbers.”

Take your blinkers off and crack on!

When it comes to getting started procurement teams simply need to “crack on and do it! I can promise you that you’ll find it hugely rewarding and enjoyable” asserted Timo. “I’m a firm advocate that [diversity and inclusion initiatives] change how procurement is viewed in the business and how we’re perceived.

“A social innovation agenda drives a completely different conversation with our business partners beyond that age-old savings conversation that we all get a bit bored of.

I really believe there is a massive untapped potential out there of many different groups that we don’t support as well as we should do. They can bring tremendous value and insights and different ways of doing things, often better than we can into our supply base. Get involved.”

Whilst serving in the Army in 1991, Swifty was seriously injured by a bomb. He lost both his legs, a number of his fingers and damaged his arms along with various other injuries.

Many years on and Swifty continues to live by this motto, championing individuality, pushing the boundaries of life as a double amputee and creating his own path.

“From my perspective I was lucky. I was surrounded by the right people. They were what I call “blinkers-off” people. They don’t wear blinkers. Or they’re prepared to take them off. They gave me the opp and had the right attitude to see some of the attrubutes that could be nurtured and untilised.

Broden your thinking. Take a punt on difference and diversity. Instead of always thinking you can’t ask why not, why wouldn’t we why shouldn’t, we let’s give it a go.

Unicorns are a mythical creature but they’re also a type of horse. Horses wear blinkers and they wear blinkers because it makes them go down a particular route, stops them from deviating stops them from thinking elsewhere and I quite like the idea of taking those off and having a wider vision.”

“What are the essential traits of future leader in procurement?” asked Julie.

“Is it this unicorn that ticks all the boxes. We intentionally seek a diversity of thought and a diversity of experience; different skill-sets. Because that drives innovation and that leads to great advancements.”

Procure with Purpose – Join the movement

Procurious have partnered with SAP Ariba to create a global online group – Procure with Purpose.

Through Procure with Purpose, we’re shining a light on the biggest issues – from Modern Slavery; to Minority Owned Business; and from Social Enterprises; to Environmental Sustainability.

Enrol here to join the Procure with Purpose group and gain instant access to our exclusive online events, including the Don’t Go Chasing Unicorns webinar. 

Best Of The Blog – Neurodiversity – Your Secret HR Weapon

A lack  of understanding about neurodiversity has meant those with a neurodiverse profile have historically endured stigmatisation and struggled in the workplace. John Floyd explains why, and how, this is changing and what we can do to accommodate and embrace differences. 

Everyone loves a good throwback article, which is why we’re hopping in our time machine to bring you back some of the biggest and best Procurious blogs. If you missed any of the golden oldies, look no further!

This week, we’re revisiting an article about people with neureodiverse profiles, and the unique assets they can bring to your procurement organisation. 

We know the best performing teams are made up of a diverse group of people, whether that be gender, age, ethnicity or educational background. And Headmaster of Bruern Abbey, John Floyd, has just thrown “neurodiversity “ onto the list of must-have employee profiles, to help strengthen and enhance team output.

Recently rated by Tatler as one of the best Prep Schools in the UK, Bruern Abbey specialises in educating boys with dyslexia and dyspraxia. It is the only preparatory school of its kind in the UK and John Floyd is its outstanding headmaster.

John is a firm believer that learning difficulties, or learning differences, should not preclude academic success. In fact, after developing the right learning strategies at Bruern, many of the boys from go on to some of the best senior schools in the country.

Unfortunately, not everyone with dyslexia or dyspraxia is lucky enough to go to Bruern Abbey. Education systems around the world aren’t necessarily set up to accommodate those with neurodiverse profiles such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism. Of course, this extends to the workplace as well.

It is estimated that:

  • 5-10 per cent of the population has dyslexia,
  • 5-10 per cent of the population has dyspraxia
  • 5-7 per cent of the population has ADHD
  • 1 per cent of the population has autism

People with neuro-diverse profiles (and there’s a lot of them!) learn differently, think differently and apply their skills in alternate ways. As John succinctly puts it, “The term neurodiversity means that someone has a brain a little bit different to the majority of people”

Turning their differences into a virtue is a great opportunity for any team leader.

Diversity wins out

Organisations are starting to realise that employing people with neurodiverse profiles and optimizing their approach to work is great for business.

A few examples include:

  • MI5’s sister service GCHQ (the Government Communications Headquarters) employs more than 300 employees with neuro-diverse profiles and are actively recruiting more.
  • Organisations such as Microsoft and EY are trialing programs to recruit individuals with neuro-diverse profiles such as Asperger’s.
  • Last May the Labour party in the UK decided to appoint a shadow minister for neurodiversity.

Employers recognise that employees with neurodiverse profiles might offer heightened analytical skills, lateral thinking and a more naturally investigatory mindset than their peers.

How do you manage neurodiversity in your  teams? 

Everyone in your team will have different strengths and weaknesses. The opportunity for you, as a leader, is to optimize every member of your team to allow them to reach their peak performance. The key is to determine who has which strengths and to tailor the opportunities and development to suit that individual.

If you’re expecting a prospective employee’s CV to land on your desk with a neurodiverse label plastered across it, think again!

As John pointed out today, “If you start to see some badly written emails from a team member, you’ll know you shouldn’t assign them to write the press releases. But there will be a whole host of things they can do for you, and probably do better than anyone else!”

John gave a few examples of areas in which those with neurodiverse profiles might particularly excel.

Get them to do the interviewing

Dyslexics often have highly developed and fine-tuned listening and oral skills. They are the most studied of all neurodiverse profiles.

Compensating for having potentially struggled with reading and writing throughout childhood, many of them develop excellent verbal and listening skills.They are likely to be a resilient bunch and great under time pressure. Dyslexics  have learnt how to work well under stress.  having been up against it ever since they were first asked to do school-work.

It could be worth relying upon them to conduct interviews with prospective employees. They might be the most socially engaging person on your team and the most capable at listening to, and evaluating, a candidate.

Let them solve the problems

Adults with dyslexia and Dyspraxia quite literally think differently and are good at cracking codes or seeing patterns in problems that those who read with ease would overlook. They’re also great at re-inventing, re-evaluating and thinking laterally.

Give them the time-sensitive or juggling tasks

A number of adults with forms of neurodiversity such as ADHD can deal with juggling a number of tasks at high speed. It’s what they do all day anyway. For most of us it would be exhausting!  They might come up with too many ideas and try to execute them too quickly but they’ll never run out of steam and they’ll be utterly committed.

John concluded his talk today by urging us not to hesitate in employing somebody with a neurodiverse profile. They’ll be grateful to be employed, they’ll be your most resilient team members and they’ll work diligently.

You can guarantee that they’ll be thinking differently about something long before you’ve even entertained the thought that there could even  be an alternate option.