Combining a background in neuroscience with an international recruitment career, Mel has been able to innovate the way people “learn” in workplaces all over the world. She is the Founder of Instinct Performance a company that provides Sales, Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion and Internal Training solutions for all businesses. Instinct Performance uses behavioural science to deliver results without compromising culture; using neuroscience, psychology and business expertise, their world-class solutions are designed in collaboration with clients’ “radically relevant” services.

Mel’s Experiences as a recruiter (0.49)

My background is within Neuroscience – I’ve always been interested in the brain and human behaviour. My first job was in recruitment but as much as it seems like a departure, the link between neuroscience and recruitment is obvious to me. I was able to understand how to influence people and provide training around organisational development, which is where Instinct Performance started.

6 months in I was told by a client  “don’t send me any black people, we’ve tried it and we don’t want any political statements”. I had received training but nothing could prepare me for this and my jaw just dropped to the floor. Of course, I had been aware of issues around add response, for example, people not going forward for jobs or being contacted because of their names, or people being rejected for “culture fit” even though there was no objective reason to do so. However, this was the first explicit encounter I had.

Mel’s Personal Experience (03:13)

I think not looking the same as everyone else was actually a breath of fresh air; my mixed and non-conventional heritage made me better at content switching. That said, I was very aware that I was not what most people expect a top biller to look and sound like. Within Recruitment, I won top contract rookie of the year at a big internal event, a group of men assumed I was, and I quote “probably just an admin”. Their perception of me wasn’t accurate but I found it interesting psychologically when interpreting what success looks like to different people.

On Black Lives Matter (5:17)

The day after the protests in Manchester I found my flat was vandalised with racist graffiti. There were three camps of people, the first being very emotional wanted change, the second group was emotional for the opposite reason and believed mountains were being made of molehills, and the last group was apathetic. With the movement, I got the sense that people wanted to do something but they didn’t know what to do. I thought how can I use my skillset specifically in neuroscience to move the conversation from a really emotional space to a rational, logical solution-driven one that focuses on the parts of the conversation we’re not actually having.

How is your approach unique? (07:11)

People are fed up with being forced to feel guilty. Our approach isn’t about ramming a message down your throat because we know guilt isn’t effective to change behaviour. Social justice is extremely important, but for me, D&I is about creating equal opportunities for everybody, including straight, white men. D&I is bigger than protected characteristics and is actually about creating an environment where everybody is seen, welcomed and included.

 Why is it important that companies talk about this? (08.39)

If you have an environment where people on all sides are walking on eggs shells and are frightened to death of saying the wrong thing, or everybody just agrees with each other and has the same blind spots, that’s hardly going to inspire a winning performance. D&I is actually about creating a culture where all voices are heard, where you can challenge and be challenged and have constructive tension in the decision-making process, to come up with better solutions than you have already.

Also, diverse companies are more profitable, solve problems faster and are more innovative. Talking heads don’t work. At Instinct Performance we don’t tell you what to think, we facilitate discussions and providing insights to help you figure things out at your own pace and on your own terms.

What more could companies/people be doing? (09:32)

Businesses need to focus on inclusion first, diversity second. Good intentions executed poorly can be just as damaging as bad ones executed well. I’d also say stop confusing cancel culture with call-out culture. Call-out culture is about holding people accountable so that they can learn and grow. With this, you have to have a culture there where it’s ok to get things wrong and that doesn’t make you a bad person. Whereas cancel culture vilifies a person and robs them of that opportunity- you’re attacking the person, not the problem.

Lastly, celebrate, don’t accommodate differences. Diversity is a gift- why would you minimise a superpower?

This interview was conducted as part of our Let’s Get Inclusive initiative, which aims to spotlight key individuals and role models within the Technology and Engineering spaces. For more about Rachel, take a look at her LinkedIn profile here.

Our Tech team works with a variety of passionate and innovative clients. To understand our specialisms, take a look at our dedicated Tech page. If you’re currently looking to recruit a tech professional to join your team, send your requirement to Director of Tech Recruitment Chris Ashton:

E: c.ashton@insight-rec.com 

T: +44 (0)161 710 2317

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