Cultivating a Diverse Workforce

09 November 2023

People at the Centre

Professional Member, Trina Jones MRCSA is the director at Cultivate - a recruitment agency with a difference. Her team champions diversity and operates with the belief that every individual deserves a fair chance to find meaningful employment.

“Hiring shouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’ process, says, Trina.

“Every individual brings their own unique perspectives, experiences, and strengths to the table. Every individual deserves a fair go.”

The team’s primary goal is to create a network of professionals by connecting neurodiverse candidates with clients. They don’t profess to be experts but explore an approach that can provide comparable results to the feedback below:

“This a recruitment agency with a difference. The experience so far has been friendly and professional and being a neurodivergent person, the willingness to accept and work with you to understand your strengths has been wonderful.” Andrew, Candidate

“He is doing awesome, he is such a lovely person and is smashing out the workload. Yesterday, I think he set a record for the most emails replied to for anyone on their second day in the role! We are very lucky to have him.” Emma, Hiring Manager

Cognitive diversity brings great value to an organisation. The typical recruitment process can be stressful and uncomfortable for many neurodivergent candidates. Cultivatetailors its recruitment process to the specific needs of each individual so the whole ordeal is as stress free as possible.

“We recognise that diversity of thought is so important to have in a business and we wanted to make sure our whole team had a good understanding of what it means to be neurodivergent and some of the barriers candidates can face in the recruitment process, says Trina.

“We engaged our team initially in two workshops with DivergenThinking and then began to drive an action plan looking at what we could do to present a more inclusive process.”

At the beginning of the year Cultivate became New Zealand’s first recruitment services provider to become ‘Brain Badge’ accredited. It’s a certification program designed to empower both organisations and neurodivergent individuals by ending discrimination, disproving stereotypes, and breaking down barriers.

“During the course of that accreditation process, we also got Autism New Zealand to come and speak to our team. They introduced us to an autistic job seeker who was able to share her personal story. It made a real impact on our team, further fuelling our passion to make a difference.”

For many neurodivergent people, the traditional job application process is uncomfortable. By working with candidates and clients Trina and the team streamline the process to suit both parties. Through measures like having virtual interviews, providing the interview agenda in advance, and giving further clarity around questions, neurodivergent candidates can soar.

“We can also advocate with our clients for things like onboarding support, flexible hours and locations, communication preferences and sensory allowances. Whatever it is that will make the candidate more comfortable”.

The agency is so committed to the cause it has developed its own pledge.

Our pledge to diversity, equity and inclusion means that we will:

  • Ensure our recruitment process is free of discrimination and stereotypes.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, including those with neurological differences.
  • Advocate for the unique needs of neurodivergent candidates with our hiring managers while respecting their privacy.
  • Adhere to the New Zealand Living Wage.

By giving people with neurodiversity a chance to succeed and thrive in the workforce, Cultivate is aspirational in producing meaningful outcomes. Putting people at the centre of what you do can yield incredible results and by acting with integrity and care, help to improve the staffing industry’s reputation.

“It’s heartwarming to help people thrive by connecting potential and opportunity. We have had some beautiful feedback from candidates. It can be emotional at times, when they see first-hand the impact their work has on individuals and families, says Trina.

“I think we, as an industry we have to keep challenging ourselves. There is still a lot of work to do.”