I attended an event last night hosted by a global organisation with some prestigious speakers – Dr Christian from Embarrassing Bodies, Kate Nash – Disability Inclusion Consultant and Hugh Milroy – CEO of Veterans Aid.
There was an interesting discussion on what disclosure meant, why employers request it and how individuals feel about it. The audience shared some personal experiences. I was expecting more insight into starting those uncomfortable conversations either as a manger or as an employee to a manager. Some ideas to make such conversations easier and some signposting for both parties. Instead the focus was more on why employers seek ‘disclosure’.
One of the speakers mentioned it was about ensuring their organisation reaches the most diverse audience possible when it comes to hiring their talent.
But what happens when life throws curve balls after you’ve hired someone? How do you help and support them, ensuring their talent stays in your business? Surely ‘disclosure’ at the point of hire is missing the point. It’s endorsing the perception of some that this is a ‘tick in the box’ exercise even if this was not the intention.
I wonder how many in the audience felt this was a missed opportunity. There was no conclusion on how to start a conversation on ‘disclosure’ or support signposting if something traumatic is shared. There was no conversation around the potential support needed by the individual hearing the experience. There is a lot of good examples of excellent work culture and change being driven by exec boards. Is it enough to say ‘I am champion of …… group’? or ‘I am an exec board member and I have depression’? How many young graduates would feel they could approach such people who have already reached seniority and are probably significantly more financially settled than they would be? Role models only work if people can relate to them.
Change of culture and leadership starts with us all. It’s nothing to do with hierachy. Exec boards are essential in driving the change in culture by ensuring the resources are available and known to all staff. This would be a much better way of ensuring change was delivered and give a better chance of people ‘disclosing’ or sharing their personal experiences.
Would it be better to?:
1) Treat people with dignity and respect, be mindful of our body language and tone of voice
2) Ensure people understand they have ‘control’ of what happens next if they share what they are experiencing and that the conversation will remain confidential – unless of course, threat to life exists – there is never confidentiality where this is present.
3) Make every team meeting end with a non-minuted discussion on a life issue – starting with the Team Leader
4) Train people in Mental Health First Aid, Counselling etc and advertise these ‘listening ears’ at every refreshment point
5) Collate all the internal support, every network group etc into one accessible place and advertise where this is. Do the same for external support.
6) Make the time to focus on an individual rather than fitting a conversation in around e-mails, meetings etc
7) Recognise everyone has different levels of resilience to life/work events.
What do you think?