Article · 9-minute read

Workplace Inclusion Network

Reflections from our Virtual Roundtables

By Richard Williams – 17th July 2023

Our recent series of virtual roundtable events brought together talent practitioners from across the globe to share ideas, experiences and practical solutions for making talent practices more inclusive.

The first roundtable in the series looked at ways that organizations can nurture more inclusive leadership, with perspectives from a range of sectors, including IT, professional services, pharmaceuticals, travel and more.

More Inclusive Leadership

The first roundtable in the series looked at ways that organizations can nurture more inclusive leadership.  

Inclusive leadership can be defined as “Leadership that assures that all team members feel they are treated respectfully and fairly, are valued and sense that they belong, and are confident and inspired.”

Truly inclusive leadership can help increase trust between leaders and their teams, lead to happier more engaged employees, who feel valued and heard, and increase innovation across the organization.

We asked the group if they thought leadership teams are becoming more diverse?

We then posed the statement, ‘self-awareness is the biggest barrier to improving inclusive leadership’ to the group:

Some of the main barriers to inclusive leadership mentioned by the group were:

  • Changing perceptions and understanding what is meant by ‘inclusion’.

  • Breaking existing habits – people are used to doing things they are already doing. Habits are difficult to change but people are slowly understanding the need to change.

  • Inclusion needs to start from the recruitment/hiring perspective. Bias awareness is crucial and the need to work out of these habits and biases.

  • The culture needs to be open to change but often isn’t.

  • Leaders not being able to see that differences exist.

Some effective measures that the group mentioned included:

  • Increased education and internal sessions about the subject, plus advice on how to ask open non-offensive questions.

  • ‘Bottom up’ allyship initiatives and ‘reverse mentoring’.

  • Sharing of cultures, ie. Black History Month and sessions on what Pride is about.

  • Values-based recruitment, more emphasis on soft skills, ie. no application forms.

  • Leadership programs with inclusive leadership workshops. 

Top Tip: 

Encourage network and communities within your organization, creating a space where voices can be heard and like-minded people can come together to help embed change effectively.

You can find out more in the full write up of this roundtable here.

More Inclusive Hybrid Working

The world of work was transformed in 2020 with many organizations who had previously operated an office-only model shifting towards home or hybrid working due to the global pandemic.

CIPD data from 2022 revealed that 40% of the workforce work from home on a regular basis (at least once a week) and 21% will work from home all the time.

Whilst the move towards hybrid working comes with benefits for many, it is also comes with some important considerations. In our second virtual roundtable, we looked at hybrid working through the lens of inclusion:

In our first poll, we posed the statement:

The feeling around the room was fairly split on this. We then posed the statement:

Thoughts about inclusive hybrid working from around the room included:

  • The type of work people are doing is a big influence on the opportunities to work from home, as well as their job level/career stage.

  • More admin-focused roles and early careers level individuals miss the in-person interaction and learning by osmosis from others, eg. watching more experienced mentors, listening and shadowing calls.

  • If not present in the office, many individuals can feel guilty if they don’t appear ‘available’ when logged on but stepping away to have focus time on work tasks is key, so measures should be put in place that support this and avoiding feelings of guilt.

  • Inclusion needs to cascade through with practical operations. Often organizations ‘say’ they are hybrid, but the ‘doing’ is lacking, eg. Giving people the necessary equipment to have a proper remote set up.

  • The mindset shouldn’t be ‘how do we replicate what we did in-person virtually?’, but ‘how can we do it differently to make it an effective and positive experience in a hybrid environment?’

  • There are key moments of the employee journey to consider and think differently about in a hybrid world; for example, initial onboarding of new hires, ongoing development and performance development conversations in particular.

  • Many organizations are now encouraging more self-nomination and assessment for people to put themselves forward in this new virtual world of working which helps to mitigate the potential for proximity bias.

Top Tip

Ensure that if people are joining meetings remotely, they feel included by introducing who is in the room.

You can find out more in our guide: Harnessing Hybrid Working – A Guide to More Effective Collaboration.

More Inclusive Approaches for Neurodiverse Talent

In our third virtual roundtable, we looked at the following approaches to neurodiverse talent through the lens of inclusion:

Neurodiversity is a term that is used to describe a wide range of human brain function and associated behaviors. It is used to refer to conditions that aren’t neurotypical, such as autism, Asperger’s syndrome, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Approximately 18% of the population are currently considered to be neurodivergent (TrainingZone).

However, it is not always widely recognized that Neurodiversity is an extremely broad area and represents a wide spectrum of needs/differences. It is important that organizations understand these unique differences and how they can provide equal employment opportunities. This includes inclusivity across hiring talent, building talent and leading talent.

In our first poll, we asked the group:

The results on this were conclusive. However when asked if people were clear on how to build and develop neurodiversity, it showed that there was still room for some guidance. 

Thoughts from around the room about neurodiversity when it comes to hiring were:

  • Consider the language used in job descriptions and review it against if it would discourage neurodiverse applicants applying eg. are ‘excellent communication skills’ really a critical component?

  • Consider other ways applicants can apply, eg. including links to LinkedIn ‘Easy Apply’.

  • In addition to reasonable adjustments that can be applied to a standard process in order to make it inclusive, consider all elements of the hiring process, not just from what can be adjusted, but what may not be necessary and could discourage individuals from even applying.

  • At interview stage, review the questions used and format of the interview, and consider sharing them with candidates beforehand. Are interviewers or hiring managers aware of adjustments that could be applied ensuring it is a fairer experience for neurodiverse candidates, allowing them to demonstrate their potential comfortably and confidently.

Thoughts from around the room about Development were:

  • Consider the use of ‘Internal Passports’ outlining the requirements/adjustments required for an individual which can support a fairer development journey across the organization.

  • There is still workplace stigma around neurodiversity and people need continuous education.

  • Younger members of the workforce tend to be more open minded, have a better understanding and awareness, than more senior members.

  • People may be currently undiagnosed, awaiting diagnosis or recently diagnosed later in life. This may mean they are unaware of additional support they may need or are less confident in speaking out. Fostering an inclusive culture that is more mindful for everyone can help to make individuals feel more comfortable and confident in these scenarios.

Top Tip  

Consider workstreams/affinity groups who can raise awareness, promote understanding throughout the organization through regular sessions, as well as provide support with leadership buy in.

You can find out more in our guide: Supporting Neurodiversity Across the Talent Cycle

More Inclusive Talent Mobility

In our final roundtable we looked at the hot topic of talent mobility.

According to a study by ICIMS, 70% of workers do not know how to progress their careers, and more than half think that it is difficult to find and apply for jobs internally. 

Nurturing opportunities for progression and promotion within organizations can help improve talent retention and can also assist organizations to more efficiently fill internal vacancies.      

Some of the other benefits of increased talent mobility include:

In our first poll, we posed the statement:

Whilst the group overwhelmingly agreed with the statement, the results were not as positive when looking at the opportunities for mobility available to individuals:

When asked about the challenges for inclusive talent mobility the group mentioned:

Difficulty moving people across business locations – Europe (amplified post-Brexit), Americas/Africa.

Opportunities are often limited by nationality/family status.

Added implications of relocation costs, time, impact on family, onboarding into new culture.

Perception of where work needs to be done/where the opportunities are.
Often opportunities are more open than people may think, so there is scope for increased education to change perception of what opportunities are available based on location.

Being more inclusive in where resource is applied.
Often there is dedicated resource for high-potential individuals but it would be positive to also look to create more movement at junior levels.

Understanding of benefits of selecting in-house
There needs to be increased readiness of Line Managers to ‘take a chance’ on someone internal who may not have the 100% skills match.

It may be more cost-effective to trial a secondment than select-in.

We then asked to suggest what effective measures could be put in place and the group suggested:

Encourage talent mobility by salary increases
Be cautious of creating bottlenecks – where people then have no further room for progression.

Development programs
Organizations need to take care that they don’t switch more people off than they accept (or provide meaningful development to).

It’s important to ensure opportunities are scalable and look to create development opportunity for all involved.

Encouraging Line Managers to be have more effective career conversations
Acknowledging that it may not always be the best thing for an individual’s career to remain with the organization – and making it ok to have that conversation – can also be a positive thing.

Top Tip

To avoid disengagement, ensure that internal opportunities are properly promoted within, and easy to apply for, and that people are fully aware of development programs and placements available to them.



Being a truly inclusive workplace goes beyond mission statements and programs to promote awareness, important as they may be. It requires consistent alignment and consideration across the employee lifecycle of decisions made and actions taken. For example, have we reviewed the language used in our job descriptions, do we have the practical things in place for a truly hybrid work experience, how are ensuring opportunities for development are for the many and not the few.

Leadership and management are critical components for driving an inclusive environment, but it shouldn’t be a ‘nice-to-have’ it should be an expected. Being inclusive and ensuring an inclusive workplace culture is part of what makes a good leader and a manager.

Workplace inclusivity isn’t a project with an end goal. It is a continually evolving and moving dial which needs to be embedded across all talent practices. Building it into everyday life work life and reflecting on all decisions, actions, choices with an inclusive lens will help build inclusivity in the workplace where it as constant, not a hot topic.

If you’d like to find out more about any of the issues discussed in the roundtables or how our tools can help you promote inclusivity within your hiring, development and leadership process, get in touch today.