It’s widely recognised that one of the greatest challenges around mental health is the level of stigma which still persists in the UK around being able to talk openly about this topic.
According to a recent survey by Mind, one in six of us have experienced poor mental health during our careers, but only half of those effected feel able to talk about it at work. So why is this important when it comes to considering an inclusive working environment?
For me, there are three key reasons:
1. Filtering is exhausting (and impacts productivity)
One of the biggest challenges organisations face when they aren’t perceived by their employees to be genuinely inclusive, is that those individuals who don’t feel part of the “in group” will feel they need to filter themselves at work – and this has a huge impact on productivity. Flip this on its head and you see the impact – in their 2012 report “Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup?” Deloitte noted a significant correlation between how included employees felt and how good their performance was.
To provide a bit more context to how significant this challenge is, consider the research by Stonewall, which indicates that only 25% of LGBT+ employees feel completely comfortable being “out” at work. This means that those individuals are constantly having to filter themselves at work. For anyone who doubts how exhausting this is, try to have a conversation with someone about your weekend plans without mentioning who you’ll be with, without using gender pronouns, and without talking about where you’ll be. And then think about your deepest darkest secret, and imagine spending all day every day worrying that someone will discover it. Maintaining this level of filtering is not only completely exhausting, but incredibly stressful, which is why it comes as no surprise to learn that according to the Mental Health Foundation, members of the LGBT+ community are at much higher risk of experiencing poor mental health.
And it’s not just members of the LGBT+ community who feel the need to filter – I have two close friends who are on the autism spectrum who have not disclosed their condition to their employers because they fear they will be perceived differently or discriminated against. So a truly inclusive working environment is crucial because when it works, it means that everyone is able to bring their real selves to work, and then organisations see the benefit – according to research by Deloitte, inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80 per cent.
About the author
Tricia Driver is the Founder and CEO of A New Normal Ltd, creating business impact through inclusion. A New Normal supports organisations in attracting, developing and retaining the best people from broad and diverse talent pools, enabling the creations and sustenance of environments which give all employees the freedom to be their full selves at work every day. The company is named in recognition of the fact that whilst a move to a truly inclusive organisational culture can feel challenging, it doesn’t have to be scary; and the benefits are incredible (with Deloitte identifying that inclusive teams out-perform their peers by 80 per cent!).
Trish has over 15 years experience across the end to end talent lifecycle, from employer branding and recruitment process design, through to people development and alumni programmes. She’s worked across the inclusion landscape, and is particularly proud of her work founding Capgemini UK’s returner programme. Trish is an expert in Unconscious Bias and Inclusion, a skilled and highly regarded coach and a compelling speaker. She describes herself as passionate about all things equality, a feminist, LGBT+ ally, parent, entrepreneur and plate-spinner in chief.