Diversity & Inclusion Event

Posting date: 19 February 2020

Harvey Nash hosted their first Diversity & Inclusion event of 2020 on Wednesday, the 29th of January in the stunning Cliff Townhouse overlooking Stephen’s Green. Professionals from many of Dublin’s prominent companies gathered, eager to hear from Gearoid Kearney and Furkan Karayel on the topic of ‘Inclusivity in the Workplace’.

Sonya Curley, MD Harvey Nash, opened the event presenting the results from the pre-event survey. She shared that just over half of respondents said that their company in fact does have a Diversity and Inclusion program in place. However, only a third of the respondents have a dedicated D&I team in place – meaning that D&I becomes the responsibility of HR or even the CEO in some cases. Understanding the many everyday tasks of HR professionals and others alike, our goal for this workshop was to provide accessible, clear, actionable steps towards greater inclusivity in the workplace.  


Sonya Curley, Managing Director, Harvey Nash Ireland

Topic 1: How to Create an Inclusive Work Environment, Gearoid Kearney, CEO, myAccessHub

Gearoid opened his talk highlighting significant statistics taken from the ‘JP Morgan Chase Autism at Work Program’; those individuals involved in this program were, on average, 48% faster than their neurotypical peers at a given task. While the group was on average, 92% more productive than their neurotypical peers. This program alone shows the value that those with autism can contribute to a business. 

Gearoid, like the JP Morgan Chase Autism at Work Program, challenges the stigma that people with autism are less effective at their work and not able to keep up with those without a disability. The evidence supports that it is the opposite – neurodiverse talent is more productive and work harder than their neurotypical peers. 

However, in Ireland, a majority of companies are still ill-equipped in accommodating neurodiverse talent; a staggering statistic shows 80% of those with autism in Ireland are unemployed. Gearoid presents the few, but impactful changes organisations can make to encourage and accommodate neurodiversity in the workplace. Gearoid suggests that creating a ‘Wellness room’, for example, can have a huge effect on employee retention. Furthermore, the distribution of noise cancelling headphones is another accessible change employers can easily implement to counteract sensory overload that neurodiverse talent frequently suffers from in the workplace.


Gearoid Kearney, CEO, myAccessHub

Key Takeaways:
Gearoid wrapped up with these key, digestible takeaways for any employers seeking to hire and retain neurodiverse talent:

Preparation: Do your utmost to provide accommodations for neurodiverse talent. 
Empathy: Be mindful of the needs and challenges faced by neurodiverse talent.
Trust People: Talking about a disability is hard - if someone comes forward, believe them, thank them, and listen to them.
Ask Questions: Don’t be afraid to ask how you can help or support the person. 
Time: Allow extra time for the person to process information and respond.
Loyalty: People with neurodiversity are very loyal; treat them right and you will have an employee for life.


Furkan Karayel, CEO, Diverse In

Topic 2: Inclusive Onboarding for Diverse Talents, Furkan Karayel, CEO, Diverse In

Furkan spoke passionately about the importance of onboarding diverse talent. The relationship starts from the first meeting. According to Furkan, effectively onboarding diverse talent becomes accessible with the below framework:

Assuming: Never assume or think you know the person. Each story is unique and assuming people from similar backgrounds are the same is incorrect. 
Understand Motivators: Contrary to popular opinion, money is not the most influential motivator. Understanding what motivates / inspires employees will make for a happier, more efficient workforce.
Opportunity to Contribute: Allowing employees to feel like their voice is heard is one of the most empowering things an employer can do. 
Learn from the Processes: Affording people the opportunity to provide feedback will only serve to improve the future onboarding process
Invest in Cultural Intelligence: Invest in people and give them an understanding of various cultures and situations 
Show them you are open: Show your (future) employee you are genuinely open to change

The second half of Furkan’s presentation focused on inclusive leadership and what characteristics to incorporate going forward. Inclusive leadership is the ability to seamlessly work with different styles / people / situations through specific traits such as empathy and understanding. These people can foster a healthy environment for those around them, not only for diverse talent; inclusive leadership helps individuals feel a sense of belonging and respect while business benefits include improvements of up to 20% in overall decision making and output.

Characteristics of an inclusive leader include:
Self-Awareness: One who knows blind spots and recognises their own strengths and weaknesses. When people don’t know what they know about themselves, this is unknown to others. When they know themselves and allow others to know them, this is open 
Empathy: Empathy, a reoccurring theme on the day, often receives little credit in the workplace. However, those who can empathise with various cultures and personalities are the most inclusive. 
Accountability: Everybody must take some responsibility as those who have a vested interest have the power to really push change in their workplace.

Furkan closed her session with a brief goal setting session; with her final parting advice encouraging our attendees to establish specific D&I goals and include them within the wider business strategy, while emphasising the importance of monitoring and rewarding diversity.


Susan Hogan, Harvey Nash Ireland

A special thanks to both Gearoid and Furkan for sharing their expertise on the subject. As well, thank you to all of the attendees for contributing to the stimulating discussion. We are looking forward to launching our next event this spring!