interview with Vicky Quinn, LinkedIn

Autism Awareness Month, which runs throughout April 2023, is an opportunity for organisations to shine a light on their neurodiversity initiatives. It is a chance to share their plans for progressing with equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives and creating a culture of allyship. Much of the work employers focus on will be for the benefit of existing employees, however it is also a chance for companies to ensure that they are attracting and recruiting the very best neurodiverse talent. 

As inclusion in continues our month-long focus on neurodiversity, we were pleased to have a unique opportunity to speak with Vicky Quinn, the EMEAL Co-Lead of EnableIn – the internal disability and mental health ERG at LinkedIn. Vicky is an Enterprise Sales Manager at LinkedIn, responsible for a team of talent specialists. She joined the EnableIn Employee Resource Group as Co-Lead for the EMEA region in November 2022 and told us why this dual role is of personal importance to her: 

“As a parent of a neurodiverse child, this provides a really great opportunity to make a difference in two things in the workplace that I’m really passionate about. The first is enabling those with disabilities. Whether that be my colleagues or people who are impacted in some way. It’s also about building an understanding of what it means to be an ally; of creating a culture of allyship in the workplace. Such a big part of our role [in the ERG] is how we create allies across the business to support, open doors and remove barriers for people with disabilities and mental health  challenges.” 

We were enthusiastic to hear more about the work of EnableIn and how the internal network has been championing inclusion, accessibility and economic opportunity for people with visible and non-visible physical and mental disabilities. 

“EnableIn works consistently around four key pillars: Culture, Career, Commerce, and Community, and we have specific goals for each pillar over each half year period. Taking ‘culture’ as an example, we have a really measured focus on creating more touch points for colleagues. We also focus on building relationships with other ERGs to address intersectionality. For example, we might work together with Families@LinkedIn, another ERG, to work with people who are impacted or family members who might be impacted by disability or mental health challenges. 

‘We welcome all allies into the ERG as well as the people we represent’.

Ultimately, the aim really encompasses creating a safe space for those who are impacted by disability and mental health, and we also want to grow that awareness in our global offices, with all of LinkedIn’s people. For Autism Awareness Month, and for Mental Health Month coming up in May, we’ll be working on events, training focuses and support materials. We’ll be working with our individual teams and the events are led by our showcase team, who go the extra mile to build awareness around those causes. With everything, we work really closely with our central DIBs [Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging] team to build and deliver in-person and virtual training.” 

Having led commercial teams for over 15 years, Vicky is no stranger to partnering with companies to support their talent acquisition needs and creating targeted campaigns for very particular candidate pools. 

We wanted to know what employers should be doing to make sure they are reaching and welcoming the right people with direct experience of neurodiversity: 

“One of the most significant shifts that we’ve seen over the last three years, is a move to ‘skills first’ hiring. Essentially this is the practice of assessing candidates on their skills and future potential rather than solely on their formal education or previous job title. Through ‘skills first hiring’, recruiters are actually 60% more likely to make a successful hire and I’ve seen more and more recruiters adopting this ‘skills first’ approach. Over 45% of recruiters at the moment have actually adopted it – and we only see that growing as hiring managers start to see that prioritising skills leads to a more diverse workforce. 75% of the businesses using LinkedIn to hire think it will become a business priority within the next 18 months.”

“We haven’t seen the shift to ‘skills based hiring’ decrease, despite the macroeconomic climate that we find ourselves in. In fact, if anything, it continues to grow”.

Vicky spoke about how the world of job seeking is changing from the candidate perspective as a whole too, with people searching for jobs actively adding descriptions of their skills as well as work experience and past education: 

“Engagement from candidates on skills is also really increasing. People are adding very particular skill descriptions to refine their LinkedIn profiles. Specific to neurodiversity, over 20,000, LinkedIn members have actually added ‘Dyslexic thinking’ as a skill on their profile information.” 

Reflecting further on LinkedIn as an employer, Vicky also spoke about how the platform is following their own advice on skills-based hiring as well as targeting their teams on DIBs initiatives. 

“DIBs is a number one operating priority for managers. So for me, it’s a key focus. As manager, I’m targeted on this, and to support us to achieve it, we go on training courses and are constantly given the opportunity to learn more about inclusive leadership. I feel we’re really supported in creating an environment of ‘belonging’ for our staff and each other.”

Access to LinkedIn Learning also means 

  1. We’re perfectly positioned, because it’s available to all employees. 
  1. We’ve seen quite a significant increase in engagement with courses covering diversity, inclusion and belonging.”

Finally, Vicky gave a few further tips for organisations who want to demonstrate best practice, and reach wider pools of neurodiverse talent: 

  • Make the job description clear, with specific sections, and examples. Tell shortlisted candidates what to expect from each stage of the recruitment process
  • Invite the interviewee to share any preferences they may have 
  • Regarding the way that they want to interact – although remember that you must ask each candidate the same question set to ensure your process is fair.