Conscious Inclusion

Sally Fenton
in Events

An event designed to invigorate leader’s inclination to embrace equality and become more attune to unconscious biases that are omnipresent throughout the recruitment process and in the workplace the inaugural Future Works introduced an audience of 80 professionals to inclusion speaker Hayley Barnard.

Search & Select Recruitment Agency and Zurich invited over Hayley as the Co-Founder of MIX Diversity Developers, Hayley has a wealth of experience with global brands and SMEs on the positive adoption of inclusive business practices, with evidence providing a compelling narrative mounting to the conclusion that the successful organisations of the future will be those that master embracing difference or inclusion of diversity to mitigate the effect of bias.

An eventful upbringing, which exposed Hayley to physical disability and alternative sexual orientation within an adoptive family, led Hayley into a field of study of psychology and human behaviour, specialising in inclusion. Today, Hayley coaches companies including Bloomberg, HSBC, T-Mobile, Lloyds Bank, Naked Wines and Experian amongst others on diversity and inclusion benefits, barriers to inclusion and practical tools to aid inclusion.

Hayley explained to Future Works attendees that understanding unconscious bias through shared language is the first step to implementing change to overcome its negative business impact and create a more inclusive organisational culture - but it is so much more complicated than this. It’s concerned with the cognitive difference’s employees bring to the workplace. Inclusion highlights an immediate opportunity to activate the decision-making power of the diversity already present in high-performing global workforces.

In light of the Equality Act 2017, companies must work to become more inclusive. Hayley’s company, MIX Diversity Developers, often come across organisations that are at least on the surface level diverse, but not necessarily inclusive, which shows up in who they recruit for business-critical positions – senior hire, in who gets promoted internally and who has a voice in the business.

“As humans, we’re pre-programmed to exclude rather than include.”

Research shows us that in an inclusive culture people perform at their best and that staff satisfaction, employee engagement and staff retention goes up, with diverse companies boasting 12 percent higher employee productivity, 19 percent higher staff retention, 57 percent higher team collaboration and 42 percent improved commitment.

“It takes one tenth of a second to make an opinion of someone, but knowing a little more about someone can be very helpful to understand their strengths and what motivates them.”

The recent introduction of the Isle of Man Equality Act 2017, will impact businesses in terms of adopting new legal requirements in place to safeguard minorities for protected characteristics, including age, disability, sexual orientation and race. Whilst the legal case is enforced, the business case is equally compelling. Hayley explained, ethically diverse companies are 33 percent more likely to gain financial returns in direct comparison with the national industry average.

Equality alerts us to the unconscious biases that can and do find their way into the DNA of an organisation and become embedded in workplace culture when left unchecked. We need to update our unconscious mind with conscious input and watch over how our mind forms opinions about others so we’re in check we’re not creating distorted decisions based on our unconscious biases.

“We have about 11 million bits of information hitting our brains at any time. It looks for ways to find these energy saving processes by making quick assessments. This ultimately saves us time, so our unconscious mind is a powerful force, but it’s fallible.”

The good news is, bias is bad at staying hidden. We display and project personal biases through micro expressions, micro inequalities, micro affirmations and subtle behaviours. Tackling subtle exclusion and bias is key to creating a supportive and inclusive environment where employees can bring their whole self to work in an environment where equality can flourish.

Hayley closed the event by commenting we are less when we don’t include everybody. When we understand the business case for inclusion and we have a clarity of what personally motivates us and those that we lead know what we stand for then culture starts to shift and our workplaces become more inclusive.

The first in a series of four Future Works events was designed to champion inclusive leadership with subsequent events focussing on managing intergenerational talent - executive development and leadership. Future Works is hosted by leading recruitment agency Search & Select, sponsored by global life assurance firm Zurich International and organised by marketing consultancy Bold Consultancy.

Sally Fenton, Managing Director of Search & Select commented:

“Diversity and inclusion has been moving up the agenda of the businesses that we talk to here on the Isle of Man.

It’s not just about box ticking or political correctness.  It’s about recruiting and retaining the best talent regardless of race, sex and sexual orientation.  And it’s about creating a work place where people can bring their whole selves to work, where they can be who they are and give their best. Recruitment is what we do best and if you need support in this area then please do get in touch.”

Dee Copley, Head of HR at Zurich International, commented:

“As a modern, progressive business committed to promoting diversity and inclusion, we’re delighted to sponsor this event in partnership with Search & Select. Hayley’s passion to drive progress on these important issues is shared by everyone at Zurich International. Initiatives promoting diversity, inclusion – and wellbeing too – are all part of how we are putting people at the heart of our strategy. As Hayley explained, businesses, employees, customers, and society in general all benefit from embracing difference and promoting innovation, which in turn boosts productivity, and delivers better results for people and customers. It’s why Zurich International has invested in a range of initiatives to enable us to attract, develop and retain talented people who reflect the diversity of our global customers. Initiatives include creating workplaces which bring out the best in every individual by making them feel welcome, valued and included.”

To find out more about Future Works and to register to attend Future Works 2.0: Managing Intergenerational Talent, visit To find the talent you need contact Search and Select on 678144, email the team at or visit

Author: Sally Fenton

It takes two decades of board-level expertise and shed loads of industry passion to make a leader like Sally. Outdoorsy adventure? Try and stop her.

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