Human Rights and Human Resource Management Are Intertwined

By Nicole Martin

 

Companies have a responsibility to respect and protect their employees’ human rights – both ethically and legally. While such respect and protection should be embedded throughout all business functions, human resource management team members are those most closely entrenched in the concept. They are the team members tasked with creating policies and procedures that promote protections throughout the enterprise, impacting how the business operates.

It’s the HR team that hardwires human rights into the organization. Two key functions for doing so are embracing DEI&B (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging) in the workplace and upholding EEOC laws. The spirit for both of these lies in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. 

This milestone document, which is commemorated on Human Rights Day, states:  “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of the document.

 DEI&B

Respecting human rights is fundamental to an inclusive workforce. Companies that invest in DEI&B are doing the right things for humans. They are ensuring that everyone in the workplace feels accepted, included, and heard. It’s HR’s job to help build and enhance DEI&B initiatives, in essence weaving them into the fabric of the culture, through a variety of initiatives, such as:

Creating Policies that Promote Inclusiveness 

The HR team should ensure policies are in place that protect and respect human rights. The policies need to define ethical behaviors that all employees need to follow and help create an inclusive culture by encouraging staff to bring attention to ethical violations. These policies help establish and reinforce a company’s culture. Any organization that values their employees feeling safe and empowered will want to ensure that this is reflected in their policies and practices.

Training

Training should not just focus on what the DEI&B policies are, but also should explain why human rights matter, how to understand your human rights, and why you need to respect the rights of others through webinars, videos, and live training sessions. HR teams should develop training programs that educate the workforce on differences (ethnic, gender, neurodiverse, etc.), tailoring them to employees and leadership in order to effectively address the issues specific to them.

Using Inclusive Language

In policies, handbooks, and in general speak, HR should use and encourage the shift from using he/she to they in documents and conversation to help workers feel safe and accepted.

Support Networks

By creating groups that recognize and support differences, such as Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), HR can provide opportunities to identify ways to improve inclusive initiatives. Groups such as those focused on women and different ethnicities are the most common, but more progressive companies are establishing ERGs that focus on neurodiversity and parenting.

EEOC

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) oversees the federal laws prohibiting job discrimination. It is the HR team’s job to make sure the company upholds those laws, which include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin
    The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older
  • Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments
  • Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government
  • Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on genetic information about an applicant, employee, or former employee
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1991, which, among other things, provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination.

There are many ways HR teams help organizations uphold these laws, such as by:

  • Adopting a mission statement that treats employees as individuals
  • Establishing policies and practices that reflect the company’s EEO values and emphasizing them in onboarding and ongoing training
  • Thoroughly investigating and responding to any employee complaints

Businesses have a responsibility to respect their employees’ human rights standards. And the best way to do so is by embedding the concept throughout all business functions.

equity demonstrated by rocks

What Does Equity in the Workplace Mean?

By Nicole Martin

 

Equity in the workplace is frequently the focus of articles on building an inclusive culture, typically highlighted in DEI&B (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) training, and often addressed in news features on workplace topics, such as pay disparity. While the buzzword is familiar, what “equity” exactly means is not always clear to those who are supposed to be promoting it. And that’s a problem. 

“What is equity? How can I create it in my organization?” are questions I hear all too often from my clients. Equity is such an important element of a culture that attracts and retains talent that HR teams need to ensure that leadership understands the concept so they can build an equitable environment for all employees. Here is how I explain the idea of equity to leaders at the businesses my company works with.

Equity in the Workplace Defined

Equity is the “E” in DEI&B. The concept of equity in the workplace refers to providing fair treatment in access, opportunity, and advancement for each person in the organization based on their needs and circumstances. In essence, equity is about leveling the playing field and empowering employees to be their best selves. Understanding the difference between equity and equality will clarify this a bit more.  

Equity vs. Equality

Equity often gets confused with equality. Although these terms may sound similar, understanding their differences is important to building a more equitable workplace. The goal of equality is to treat all persons the same regardless of circumstances. Equity, however, refers to allocating resources based on need because everyone’s circumstances are different. To that end, equity involves considering historical and sociopolitical factors that impact opportunities then creating policies to meet unique needs – all without affording an unfair advantage. Those employees and potential employees with less access to resources and privileges may need additional support if they are to take advantage of opportunities within the company. 

Let’s put this into context with an example. Say an organization posts a job opening. The position is open to anyone who wants to apply and the hiring will be based on the applicants’ merits. This is equality – equal application access for everyone. But just because there is equal access in the application process, doesn’t mean there is equity. For example, backgrounds could have played a role into where the candidates went to school or previous positions held (or lack thereof) could have been impacted by hiring biases. In actuality, there could have been discrimination before this hiring process. Equity recognizes this, looking beyond the merits to considering alternative forms of experience or providing possible training opportunities. 

How to Demonstrate Equity in the Workplace

There are many ways to promote equity in your organization. The list below is far from exhaustive:

  • Provide wage transparency
  • Prioritize wage equity
  • Create diversity across all levels of the organization by providing training and educational opportunities
  • Build equity into your culture and values
  • Make job postings and applications more accessible
  • Focus on skills-based hiring
  • Reassess onboarding to account for specific needs
  • Develop mentorship and educational programs

Hopefully this primer on equity in the workplace will help you create a more equitable environment for your employees. If you are still unsure how to build equity into your workplace, the consultants at Monarch would love to partner with you.

 

equity puzzle piece

How to Improve Equity in the Workplace in 2023

By Nicole Martin

 

With the end of the year upon us, now is the perfect time to reflect on the effectiveness of your 2022 human resources equity initiatives and plan for an even more productive 2023. Before you start designing your strategies for moving forward, you should compare your benchmarks with goal metrics to identify where you have succeeded along with where you have fallen short. As an HR professional, I also like to examine current industry trends to see if my clients are on target and are addressing key issues. 

This past year, the HR spotlight has been on pay equity, diversity, and transparency. Between rebounding from pandemic disruptions, to the Great Resignation, to current employee demands, to the signs of a possible recession, the pressure from all stakeholders to create a diverse and equitable workplace remains high. In the news, we’ve seen workers taking a stand by sharing how much they make, attempting to form their own unions, and seeking employment with companies that have the same values and prioritize the employee experience, along with new laws on pay transparency from such large cities as NYC. These actions demonstrate that stakeholders are looking for more than just gestures; they want to see real progress. Companies need to take note and take action.

All of this is underscored in a new industry report. Syndio recently released its 2023 Workplace Equity Trends Report. The company surveyed HR, Total Rewards, and DE&I leaders in order to identify trends, priorities, and sentiment related to workplace equity initiatives. According to the survey, businesses are recognizing the role they must play as 50% of respondents see their equity programs increasing in 2023. 

What Businesses Are Doing to Level Up Their Workplace Equity Programs

This survey provides some great actionable insights to help businesses boost their equity strategies in 2023. Here are three of the top takeaways. 

H3: Expanding the Definition of Diversity

Companies are looking beyond gender and race when it comes to equity. They’re including a full spectrum: LGBTQ+ identity, caregiving responsibility, refugee status, age, disabilities, and veteran status. According to the survey, companies that “track at least six employee identity groups are 64% more likely to strongly agree that they effectively build diverse teams at each level and 10% more likely to strongly agree that they effectively develop talent from historically underrepresented communities.”

Proactively Auditing Pay Equity

Rather than conducting an annual audit, more and more companies are doing more frequent assessments, every six months, quarterly, or even more often. This allows a more proactive adjustment rather than a reactive, point-in-time correction. The survey found that 50% of organizations now conduct pay equity analyses more frequently than once a year. By doing so, companies can embed equity into more stages of the employment journey, such as merit increases and high-potential programs. 

Increasing Transparency of Plans and Progress

As mentioned above, employees, investors, and customers want more than just speak. They want to see your goals, your actions, and your accomplishments. In essence, they want accountability. And those that provide it are benefitting. Organizations that are highly transparent “are 3x as likely to strongly agree that they effectively build diverse teams and develop talent” according to the survey.

I believe these are key priorities for the coming year and plan on devising strategies and noting benchmarks to see how well they are implemented.

End of Year Reflection Questions for Employees

By Nicole Martin

 

As the year comes to a close, it’s a great time for leaders to reflect and get a view of the bigger picture. This introspection, however, should not solely focus on leadership’s own thoughts or data found in reports. To truly assess the highs and lows of the year, leaders should seek out and listen to the voices of their team members. Doing tasks day-in and day-out, employees can help provide a more accurate perspective on what’s worked and what hasn’t over the last 12 months, so that organizations can shape more focused and effective strategies for the coming year.

As December draws to a close, I recommend conducting an annual reflection as part of a year-end team review and new year planning. This can be done as part of a year-end performance review process or as part of a team building event. It is important to emphasize why this exercise is valuable so it isn’t viewed as more work to be done. 

Read on further for examples of the types of questions that will help you gain insight on growth driving topics like efficiency of processes, clarity of directions, motivation, employee wellness, and more. You can pick a few from this list or have employees self-select questions that stand out to them, but keep in mind that using all of these questions would be overkill!

Questions to Ask Your Teams to Plan for a More Productive New Year

  • What were the top three highs and lows of the year?
  • What enabled and motivated us to reach those highs?
  • What obstacles led to the low points and how did we navigate around them?
  • What strategies worked well and which ones did not?
  • Where did you spend most of your time and energy?
  • What caused us stress over the last year? How can we address it better in the future?
  • Thinking back, what was a moment when you were proud of what you and our team accomplished?
  • What was a challenge or failure you think we can learn from?
  • What were some of the major milestones we experienced this year?
  • What did you hope to achieve this past year? Were you able to do so?
  • Were you able to sharpen any skills this year? If so, what and how?
  • What motivated you to get your job done?
  • What can I do to make your job more enjoyable and productive?
  • What can the organization do to better help you meet our goals?
  • Where has management helped or hindered your work?
  • What do you feel are the company’s main drivers of success?
  • Are you comfortable with the corporate culture? Are there areas we can improve upon?
  • How can we make our organization more inclusive and diverse?
  • What is your favorite part about working for our company?
  • What do you hope to accomplish over the coming year?

Diving into these questions will engage employees in a deeper conversation about the team’s wellbeing and how it works together as a unit. This action will also provide valuable insight on what your team members view as successes, failures, motivators, and impediments. Such reflective conversations can provide powerful information to help the organization boost efficiency, productivity, and employee retention – all things every business could use during this tumultuous time.

 

feedback on corkboard

Real-Time Employee Feedback is Valuable

By Nicole Martin

 

More and more companies are turning away from the single annual employee review and moving toward providing real-time feedback for managing performance throughout the year. While requiring greater involvement, this shift is good for both the company and its workforce. Annual and quarterly reviews are simply insufficient when it comes to fostering employee growth and keeping a pulse on productivity. With more regular communication, leaders can reward and address behavior sooner, enhancing engagement and operations.

What Is Real-Time Feedback?

Real-time feedback is a reactive performance management method that keeps team members and management up-to-date on productivity. Rather than wait to assess how an employee is performing, managers provide guidance on a daily basis that will help workers thrive. This is a win-win, as the workforce is more engaged and productive leading to a better bottom line for the organization, and employees know what leadership thinks of their performance. 

Real-time feedback is not an evaluation, but rather a collaboration focused on continuous improvement. Managers capture behavior in the moment and coach based on those observations, and employees seek clarification and course correct on key priorities. It is a constant communication cycle that allows both managers and employees to engage in timely and relevant conversation and avoid details and timing that are often lost with quarterly or yearly performance discussions.

The Benefits of Real-Time Feedback

Because it takes place on an ongoing basis as things happen, real-time feedback helps management recognize if employees are on task, whether any clarification or support is required, and if changes need to be made. It also enables employees to understand if they are on track and what areas they need to improve on. In essence, real-time feedback is snapshots of obstacles and progress, setting the whole team up for success. Here are some of the pros of this performance management process.

Better Performance

Because you are more focused on day-to-day or project-to-project performance, you can address mistakes, course correct, and provide guidance in a more timely manner. Both sides get regular insights that can better shape culture, growth, and the employee experience.

Happier Employees

By having a chance to seek clarification or advice, correct issues, learn from mistakes, and receive praise sooner, employees are less anxious and/or angry and more connected to their work. Through real-time feedback, leadership signals that it is supporting employees every step of the way. Workers believe leaders are invested in their development, which leads to higher morale.

Enhanced Ability to Learn and Improve

Because you are not focusing on something that was done 10 months ago with a fuzzy memory, but rather in the present, there is greater opportunity to learn from mistakes, pivot, and grow – on both the part of employees and leadership.

Improved Relationships

Consistent, one-on-one attention can do wonders for building respect, transparency, and trust among teams, as well as between management and workers. After time, in the moment feedback also feels like a natural way of communicating, bringing easy efficiency to your working relationships.

Whether or not your own company is moving in this direction, as a manager, you can take it upon yourself to provide more frequent feedback to your direct reports. It’s time to stop focusing on only annual performance reviews and embrace the more open communication and coaching strategy that real-time employee feedback affords.

promotion road sign

How to Increase Your Chances of Getting a Promotion

By Nicole Martin

 

For most people, a job is not just a way to make money, it is part of a career path with the current position being just one step closer to the position you truly desire.  That’s why today’s workers are seeking out organizations with clear opportunities for career development. 

While many companies actively support their team members’ career aspirations by helping define the path forward, offering educational training and courses, and fostering a mentoring environment, workers that wish to progress to the next rung on the career ladder should strategically position themselves to attract attention to attain a promotion. Here are a few tips to get you noticed and increase your chances of being a prime candidate for that coveted position.

How to Position Yourself for that Promotion

Demonstrate Drive

If you want to stand out, you need to show your supervisor that you have the drive and motivation to move on to the next level. It’s not enough to just do the bare minimum of your job; you should also seek out opportunities that go above and beyond your responsibilities. Indicate you want to make yourself a more valuable employee by taking advantage of career development benefits offered by the company, attending conferences and seminars, and taking courses. Establish that you’re a self-starter by actively soliciting feedback to understand your weak areas and then take steps toward improvement.

Show Willingness to Work as a Team

As the saying goes, “TeamWork Makes the Dream Work.” It’s important that leadership sees you understand the importance of working collaboratively. Significantly contribute to projects, support struggling teammates, actively listen to other members of your team, encourage others to share ideas, help delegate tasks, and approach team projects with a positive attitude. While you may be very successful within your role by yourself, most organizations highly value collaboration and will look for examples of when you were a team player.

Make Yourself Valuable

Make a conscious effort to add value to your organization. The more key you are to the company’s success, the greater your chances of being promoted. Become knowledgeable about the company (history, growth, markets, industry trends, target customers). Take advantage of opportunities to broaden your knowledge and skills. Showcase your knowledge and abilities at performance reviews and staff meetings. Volunteer for projects. Identify problem areas and look for ways to alleviate them.

Hone Your Leadership Skills

If you want to take your career to the next level, you’ll need to show you have what it takes to be a leader. Being a leader doesn’t mean having the title of “manager” or “director.” Gain the respect of your coworkers through your work performance, as well as communication and listening skills. When you have the opportunity, show management that you can lead. Volunteer to be the lead on team projects. Speak up and share innovative ideas. Ask questions as this shows your dedication and enthusiasm. Be a good learner – learn from your mistakes, learn new skills, seek out a mentor. Be a mentor and share the wisdom you have gained thus far in your career. Have a positive attitude. Know your limits and be willing to seek out the advice of others.

Be a Problem Solver

Every organization has problems and inefficiencies that impact productivity, expenses, and achieving goals. Take initiative to identify weak areas and devise plans to address them. This will show you are a self-starter and have valuable problem-solving skills to offer the company.

Have a Strong Work Ethic

Strive to be a hard-working employee. Perform your daily tasks on time and well. Be punctual for work, meetings and company events. Meet project deadlines. Be organized and consistent with your work product. Do the right thing at the right time even if no one is watching, which demonstrates integrity. Give honest feedback and own up to any mistakes you have made. Show respect to your supervisors and your co-workers

Ask for Feedback

It’s important to have a handle on what management thinks about your performance. Speak to your supervisor about your career aspirations. Demonstrate how your work has benefited the company through the work you have done, the skills you have developed, and any achievements you have acquired. Then ask how you can get promoted and follow the suggestions.

Take Note of the People Who Have Been Promoted

Paying attention to the skills, traits, and performance of those employees who have received promotions will give you valuable insight into what your company is looking for in its employees, such as a willingness to help with team projects, specific milestone achievements, social skills, or initiative. You may even reach out to them and see if they will give you advice on how to get to that next level.

Please note, you can do all of this and still not get the promotion. Others could be more qualified or the timing isn’t right. But, when the right opportunity presents itself, you will have done the work to put yourself in a much better position for securing that new position.

 

career development conversation

How to Have a Career Development Conversation with Your Manager

By Nicole Martin

 

Do you love your job and give it your all every day, but don’t have a grasp on a clear path for taking your career to the next step? You’re not alone. Many workers aspire for higher positions, but just don’t know what actions to take to achieve them. If you want to secure a future at your company, you need to take an active role in charting out your path forward. And the best way to develop an effective strategy is having a conversation about your career development with management. This signals to leadership that you are interested in advancing your career with the company and provides you with valuable advice on what you need to do so.

I know such a conversation can be daunting, but it’s so integral in developing an effective plan of action. Management has the inside scoop on the types of skills and traits needed for the next level position and can help you map out how to break down your overarching goals into the smaller steps, as well as introduce you to the right connections that can get you there. So while having this vulnerable “where is my career going” talk may be scary, I strongly urge that you embrace the doors that it can open for you. 

Here Are a Few Tips to Help You Prepare for that Career Conversation

When preparing for a career development conversation, it can be easy to compare yourself to others in the company. You may look at someone who was recently promoted and see that you have longer tenure, or perhaps a stronger skillset. Or maybe your colleague who was promoted appears to have the same exact qualifications as you, and you’ve been wondering, “Why wasn’t I promoted?” I encourage you to keep comparison out of this conversation and focus on yourself. To make the most of your meeting, consider the following:

Know Your Options for Advancement

Assess your company’s organizational structure and review the open positions. Determine which positions might be the next logical step for you. Make a list of the qualifications for those positions and how they align with your current abilities and skills. Note areas where you may need some additional training.

Highlight What Sets You Apart

Prepare an elevator pitch on why you are a good candidate for the positions you identified. Highlight your unique selling points, i.e., skills, abilities, knowledge, and accomplishments. Point out any solutions you provided, positive outcomes you have contributed to, and concrete metrics of the value you bring to the company. Prepare for this conversation as if you were preparing for a job interview – after all, these conversations are not much different!

Create a List of Questions

This conversation is not just to promote your qualifications, but to gain insight on how to climb the corporate ladder. So prepare a list of questions that will give you information on how to proceed. Inquire as to how the organization’s promotion process works, i.e., the time you must put in before being promoted to the next position. You can also gain insight into where the company is going and how you might fit in. Pick your manager’s brain for the type of actions you should take to take your career to the next level.

Ask You Manager for a Meeting

Once you have all the above ducks in a row, ask your manager for a meeting to discuss your career development and advancement. Be smart with the timing. For example, if your team is in the middle of a huge project with an upcoming deadline, now might not be the best time to have the conversation.

Share What You Are Thinking

At the meeting, lead the conversation. Let your manager know you have been thinking about your career path, both your short term and long term career goals and where you see yourself in one, three, and five years. Share with them why you think you are ready for advancement, pointing out your skills, traits, and accomplishments, and acknowledging any areas where you could benefit from some development. Ask for their feedback on your qualifications for the next level position along with advice on how to position yourself for advancement.

Clarify Next Steps

Ask your manager what the next steps in the process will be. Thank them for their time and interest. Follow through on any advice they have provided. 

Again, it is important to keep this conversation focused on you and no one else. Keep an open mind and take any suggestions from management to heart. Hopefully, these strategies will help alleviate any anxiousness you may be feeling about embarking on a career development conversation with management.

 

performance review conversation

Why Performance Reviews Are Important for Career Development

By Nicole Martin

 

Ah, performance reviews… the task that everyone loves to hate! Employees tend to dread them, even despise them – and often for good reason. Many organizations continue to take a narrow, outdated, one-sided approach to these reviews focused solely on evaluating past performance and pointing out everything that is wrong with the employee’s work. But I have experienced first hand that when employers take a balanced, holistic strategy to performance conversations, reviews can help boost the employee’s confidence and career development aspirations. 

Performance reviews aid management in getting a better understanding of your contributions to the company and your overarching career goals. I recommend that you make the most of your review by seeing it as an opportunity to highlight what you have accomplished over the year and to discuss your plans for growth within the organization. Though it isn’t easy for everyone to talk about themselves, I encourage you to shine in this moment and advocate for all your hard work!

How to Prepare for Your Performance Review

Document Your Accomplishments

Your manager may not realize everything you have done over the last 12 months. So that you can have all of this info at your fingertips during your review, you should always keep track of tasks and outcomes, projects, presentations, etc., along with any quantifiable data that details your achievements.

Gather Your Info

Just prior to the review, get all of the necessary documentation in place that demonstrates your accomplishments, highlights major responsibilities, and shows how you have provided – and want to provide – value to the company. Also prepare a list of topics that you wish to discuss, such as new skills you want to acquire or position you are seeking to attain. To help you prepare, consider the following:

  • What have you achieved over the last year?
  • Did you take on any new responsibilities?
  • Have you met any set KPIs?
  • Did you set goals last year and meet them? If not, why not?
  • Were there any obstacles that kept you from hitting any goals?
  • Did you embrace feedback from last year’s review?
  • What are your goals for the next 12 months?
  • What support will you need to achieve those goals?
  • Are there any new skills you are looking to acquire?
  • What projects would you like to work on
  • Are you looking for a pay raise or bonus?
  • Do you need more support to accomplish your tasks?
  • Do you need more frequent feedback?
  • Do you want to change your role?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This list of questions cannot, and should not, be answered quickly. Put aside ample time to reflect on each one.

Be Specific

Point out your achievements without embellishing and give factual reasons as to why you think you are worthy of a promotion or salary increase. Whenever possible, quantify your success using metrics such as revenue earned, budget saved, increase in engagement, decrease in time, etc. Demonstrate how you have added value to the company and how you will continue to do so in the future.

Outline Goals

Show initiative by letting your manager know how you see yourself contributing to the company and your desire for growth by improving productivity by a certain percentage, learning a new skill, or earning a certification. Show you’re a problem solver by asking for the support you will need to achieve those goals.

Ask Questions

Show how you are invested in improving by asking things like:

  • What skills do I need to improve upon?
  • What do I need to do differently?
  • How can I be a better teammate?
  • What are the top corporate goals for next year?
  • What actions do you think are most important to take to achieve my career goals?

Welcome Feedback

Everyone could always improve something related to their performance. Be open to any constructive feedback your manager provides as it can help you grow and put you one step further toward reaching your career aspirations. 

Preparation makes everything easier. Leverage these tips to make the most out of your next performance review. 

 

Dyslexia Tools for the Workplace

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

I can tell you first hand that the dyslexic mind works differently. I am disorganized and I misplace things. I am 5 minutes late to almost every meeting. I lose my train of thought while speaking sometimes. And I often rush to get my thoughts out because I’m worried about forgetting my point. I can see why many would think a dyslexia CEO would be a strike against Monarch’s success. However, I truly believe the way my mind functions gives me superpowers. For starters, I am an amazing problem solver. I seem to have an innate ability to cut through the clutter and identify important details, see past the details to get a more creative view of a problem, and communicate clearly. This definitely helps me to not only effectively manage my own team, but also to define and address the HR needs of my clients. It also enhances my empathy for others because I know what it’s like to struggle in the workplace. 

These dyslexia strengths, however, also come with challenges. For example, while I’m good at reading people, I can sometimes struggle reading text-heavy documents or spelling a word correctly. Over the course of my career, I have found tools that can help overcome these challenges so that I can thrive. As a strong proponent for hiring talent with dyslexia because I know first hand the benefits that person can bring to a business, I also stress to my clients how it is so important to support those with dyslexia in the workplace so that they can flourish, which helps the organization as a whole to succeed.

Tools that Can Help Dyslexic Employees Boost Performance

Here are some of the tools employers can employ to aid their dyslexic workforce in reaching their full potential.

Mind Mapping Software

This type of software provides the employee with a framework for organizing information. It helps in brainstorming thoughts without having to worry about order or structure. The mind map can transform a lot of textual information into an easy to read and comprehend colorful diagram.

Special Fonts

Installing a commonly used dyslexic-friendly font – such as Helvetica, Courier, Arial and Verdana – can enhance readability of text. The Dyslexie font though is even better. This special typeface is specially designed to enhance the ease of reading and comprehension for dyslexics. 

Screen Readers

Text to speech software can help dyslexics comprehend written material, such as presentations, reports, and even email.

Instant Spell Checkers

This tool can enable workers to focus on communicating their thoughts instead of worrying if everything is spelled correctly.

Speech Recognition Software

With this tech, the employee can dictate what they want to say and have it instantly converted into text to aid with spelling and writing.

Color

A bright white background can make reading and comprehension difficult for dyslexics. The glare can inhibit the assimilation of information. A small shift in paper or whiteboard color to cream or off-white can make a huge difference.

Good leaders recognize the amazing strengths this neurodiverse talent can offer an organization AND understand the tools that will help dyslexics thrive in the workplace.

Famous Business Leaders with Dyslexia

By Kimberly Kafafian

 

When you think of what it takes to be a successful business leader, the qualities that often come to mind are business savvy, creativity, vision, motivation, excellent communication skills, adaptability, problem solving, empathy, etc. One thing that doesn’t typically jump out is neurodiverse. Businesses often think of neurodiverse employees more narrowly as simply those who need special accommodations, rather than seeing their neurodiversity as a strength. As a neurodiverse person and business owner, I like to think of my dyslexia as my superpower! It is what helps me find creative solutions to real work problems every day. And I’m not alone in my thinking (did you know that 35% of business owners are dyslexic?) There are some pretty famous business leaders and entrepreneurs who credit dyslexia as a contributing factor in their success.

The Dyslexia Superpower

While many think of dyslexia as an impediment, dyslexics bring SO MUCH to the table when it comes to business leadership, such as:

  • Out of the box thinking
  • Complex problem solving
  • Ability to retain facts
  • Abstract thinking

The unique skill sets of dyslexics enables them to take companies to new heights, which is backed by research. A study from Cass Business School in London found that 35% of entrepreneurs in the US and 20% of entrepreneurs in the UK showed signs of dyslexia compared with just 5–10% of the overall population. And a survey of 69,000 self-made millionaires indicated that 40% of them showed signs of dyslexia. These are some significant correlations.

Super Successful Dyslexic Business Leaders

You might be surprised to know that many well-known entrepreneurs and business leaders have leveraged their dyslexia superpowers. Here are just a few.

Richard Branson

The founder of the Virgin Group, made his first million by age 21. His innovative thinking not only impacted the entertainment industry, but disrupted the transportation field with such businesses as Virgin Airways, Virgin Rail Group, and most recently with Virgin Galactic. He founded Made By Dyslexia, a nonprofit that spreads the word about the value of dyslexia, and has stated, “My dyslexia has shaped Virgin right from the very beginning and imagination has been the key to many of our successes.”

Charles Schwab

An out of the box thinker, Charles Schwab revolutionized the financial industry. Despite struggling in school, he only recognized he had dyslexia at age 58 when his son was diagnosed. When asked how dyslexia affected him, he replied “I think it leads to a better visualization capability, conceptual vision.” 

John Chambers

Although he originally viewed it as a weakness, the CEO of Cisco came to see his dyslexia as the source of his greatest strength: his ability to visualize vast amounts of data, quickly draw connections, and see around corners. These qualities enabled him to lead Cisco through multiple economic downturns.

Jamie Oliver

Famous top chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author, Jamie Oliver, believes how his brain works helps him in his profession. “I’ve found my dyslexia to be such a gift in the job,” he says.

Across a variety of industries, these business leaders have not found success despite their dyslexia, but rather because of it.