Business “falling short” on diversity says leading academic, author and entrepreneur

Professor Amanda Kirby

Businesses need to do more to ensure they can reap the benefits of truly diverse and inclusive teams and boards, according to world-leading neurodiversity expert and entrepreneur Professor Amanda Kirby.

Professor Kirby, a founder of Cardiff-based tech-for-good firm Do-IT Profiler, says that despite increasing awareness of the business benefits of diversity, there remains a “reticence and a naivety” around recruiting, retaining and progressing a diverse workforce. She says this often results in “tokenistic” approaches, meaning many companies miss out on the many benefits that come with true inclusivity, including increased innovation, performance and productivity.

Her comments came as her company, Do-IT Profiler, announced a strategic partnership with global recruitment consultancy Precedent Group. The joint venture will see Do-IT Profiler’s proprietary web-based tools and apps help firms improve how they identify and support talent they may otherwise miss.

Do-IT Profiler is a computer-based accessible screening system designed with the extensive experience of Professor Kirby. She has worked in the field of neurodiversity – defined as variation in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood and other cognitive functions – for more than 25 years. The Do-IT Profiler system takes a bio-psycho-social approach to identification and support and is used in thousands of businesses, educational establishments and public sector organisations.

The firm’s partnership with Precedent Group will see the global recruitment firm rolling out Do-IT Profiler’s tools as part of a holistic approach to improving diversity at senior and board level.

Professor Kirby explained:”We are excited by the opportunity this new partnership presents to help organisations identify and support people with the right skills and talent to serve in senior and board positions, but who may face barriers for several reasons.

“Increasingly, companies are waking up to the opportunities presented by building diverse and inclusive places to work. But without the data, tools and expertise to make a meaningful change, many take tokenistic approaches which don’t result in long-lasting, sustainable change. This is where we help make a real difference.”

Professor Kirby, who will publish the first-ever book on neurodiversity in the workplace in later this year with Welsh dyslexic Theo Smith, has been named one of the UK’s 100 most inspirational female entrepreneurs by Small Business Britain’s f:Entrepreneur ‘# ialso100’ campaign.

She was also named one of the 20 most influential voices driving professional conversations in the UK by B2B social networking site LinkedIn in November 2020, alongside Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Virgin’s Holly Branson.

Professor Kirby’s company, Do-IT Profiler, has been assisted by the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP) which provides targeted support for ambitious growing firms. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. This support has been “instrumental” in growing the business, according to Professor Kirby:

“Support with our business strategy, financial planning and management as well as our branding and marketing strategy has helped us grow and take our products into new markets. As a result, we have grown our workforce, accessed funding and secured our first export deal to the Middle East. Being able to access this targeted support has been invaluable, and we are looking forward to exciting times ahead.”

Richard Morris of the Excelerator Consortium, which delivers the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme, said: “Diversity and inclusion are increasingly areas of importance for companies of all sizes, who recognise the opportunities and benefits. It’s fantastic to see a homegrown Welsh company pioneering data-led approaches in this space, and we are very supportive of the work Do-IT Profiler is doing to help companies put this at the top of their agendas and implement sustainable change.”