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At SEVEN, Psychology at Work, we work closely with organisations to develop bespoke Diversity & Inclusion strategies based on their specific talent needs, workforce plans, CSR goals and leadership structures. 

Growing organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to source qualified and experienced talent in the marketplace via traditional internal and external recruitment mechanisms. This is particularly the case in economies where employment rates are high and the competition for talent even higher.  Because of this, we are seeing many progressive and inclusive organisations seeking alternative sources of diverse talent. An emerging focus is the attraction and recruitment of experienced talent who have taken a career break or period of time out of the workforce and are now ready to 'return'.  Recruitment of these 'Returners' into the hiring pipeline is not sufficient - hiring organizations also need to ensure that they considering how to best assess, support and develop this unique talent pool.  Our work with organizations in this area not only ensures that Returners are well supported in order to successfully resume their career and become a valuable team member but we also help organizations raise their self awareness in relation to how open and inclusive their hiring practices and decisions makers are – eliminating the potential for bias to block access to diverse talent.

SEVEN has partnered with the Executive Coaching Consultancy in the design and delivery of  bespoke 'Return to Work Programmes' for organizations in Ireland. These programmes are focused on helping organisations to re-engage talented individuals returning to work after a career break. It develops a structure for those returning to ensure they are equipped with the information and skills they need to contribute their best. It is designed to compliment and support the organization's broader Talent Development and Diversity & Inclusion strategies. 

If you would like to learn more about how a 'Return to Work Programme' could support your talent strategy, one of our Diversity and Inclusion experts at SEVEN would love to talk to you. Please contact for more information.
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SEVEN, Psychology at Work is committed to working closely with our clients to enable positive change with purpose. Through this work, we frequently see organisations undertaking ambitious, transformational change in order to create positive, inclusive and effective workplaces. It is inspiring to see the impact of this positive change on businesses of all shapes and sizes. At SEVEN, we too are changing, diversifying and growing to reflect the needs of our clients.

Three additional business psychologists have joined our team in recent months. Karen McManus, Kerry Cullen, and Clare Mulligan are all experienced business psychologists with expertise across a range of areas related to positive change at work.

Our new team members strengthen our capabilities and capacity particularly in the areas of Diversity & Inclusion, Leadership Development, Energy Management, Team & Individual Coaching, Talent Management and Psychological Assessments. We know these are areas of change that matter to you and your organisation. We believe our expanded team will extend our ability to engage quickly and effectively with you.

To support our growing team, Lynn Nevin has joined as team administrator. Lynn is available to help you with scheduling and on any administrative queries related to our work.

Over the coming months, we look forward to introducing you to Karen, Clare and Kerry. In the meantime, if there is anything we can support you with, please contact Olivia Rourke, our Practice Manager, or any member of SEVEN’s team to discuss your needs, ideas or questions.

Karen McManus is a Registered and Chartered Psychologist with over twenty years experience operating as a Business Psychologist and Coach. Karen specialises in the design and delivery of Psychological Assessments and Leadership Development across industry sectors and levels. More…

Kerry Cullen Kerry is Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society and a qualified coach.  Kerry has an in-depth understanding of organisations through her consultancy work over the last 18 years specializing in Leadership Coaching, Team Facilitation, Talent Management and Organisational Research.  More…

Clare Mulligan is an experienced Business Psychologist working closely with clients to develop bespoke training and interventions that enable positive change. Clare has particular experience and interest in the areas of Diversity & Inclusion; Inclusive Leadership Programmes, Strategic Diversity Organisational Audits; Unconscious Bias; Supporting Parental Transition and Returnships etc. More…

Visit SEVEN’s Full Team
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SEVEN is celebrating 7 years of positive change at work. As part of our 7th anniversary, we are sharing our perspective on 7 positive changes we have seen impact the workplace. We believe these changes can positively enhance organisations like yours – now and in years to come.

POSITIVE CHANGE # 2 OF 7 Unconscious Bias Training - Important, but not enough

In our second 7x7x7 article, we look at how Unconscious Bias Training has grown in popularity, but we also explain the need to take a more holistic approach to ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ (D&I). 


The past seven years has seen an explosion in the volume of unconscious bias training. This is a positive development for people at work. It indicates organisations’ awareness of unconscious bias and the need to address it. However, on its own, it comes with a health warning as training alone is not a salve for broader cultural biases and is rarely enough to establish an authentically inclusive culture. In our experience, it is critical that organisations first carefully consider and crystallise their long term strategic objectives for diversity & Inclusion (D&I) before implementing narrow diversity initiatives such as unconscious bias training.

Despite its popularity, unconscious bias training can be a controversial and divisive subject. Why is unconscious bias so controversial?

We believe it is due to three fundamental traits of unconscious bias, which we will address in this article:

  • It’s difficult to define;
  • It’s difficult to measure;
  • It’s difficult to change. 


By definition, unconscious bias is elusive, this can make it a tough concept to grasp. It can also be challenging to see its relevance in our day-to-day lives. The reality is that unconscious bias affects us every day.  Our biases influence every decision that we make, no matter how big or small.

A bias is a tendency to believe that some people or ideas are better than others and can sometimes result in treating people unfairly. Our biases not only affect our opinions and how we act, but also how we perceive the world. Unconscious biases are formed outside of our conscious awareness and they stem from one’s tendency to organise the social world by categorising.


There is an argument to be made that unconscious biases are not just difficult to measure, but impossible to measure. The best tool that we have for determining unconscious bias levels is the ‘Implicit Association Test’ (IAT). The tool was developed by researchers in Harvard and Stanford in 1998 and over 6 million people have completed different versions of the test to date.

Most of the research has found that the IAT to be reliable and valid, but some studies do bring it into question. It should be noted that the researchers did not design the IAT to be held to the same standards as a ‘clinically diagnostic’ tool. Instead, the tool is a way to get people to think about their possible unconscious biases and the effect that might have on their day to day decisions.

In our experience, it’s paramount to highlight to those that complete the IAT, that the score they receive does not mean they behave in an overtly biased way towards different groups.  Many people believe that because they have a bias or unconscious bias, there is something wrong with them as an individual. That simply is not true, instead, our biases are a reflection of our predisposed neural pathways and our upbringing in society.


There is copious research dedicated to identifying the plethora of different ways in which we are unconsciously biased. Unfortunately, there is less research that identifies effective ways to reduce our levels of unconscious bias. Nonetheless, we have found that effective unconscious bias workshops utilise the following methods to mitigate the effects of bias:

Outline mechanisms to allow participants to hold themselves and others accountable when making decisions.
Focus on real life scenarios both in the form of case studies and personal experiences shared by participants.
Highlight through research, the importance of ensuring that you are in the correct mindset (i.e. not hungry or tired etc.) when making decisions.

Unconscious bias training becomes problematic when it perceived as the ‘Poster Child’ for D&I. It is unwise to assume that implementing unconscious bias training alone will rid your organisation of all its biases. Organisations are far too complex for that alone to work. We have found the organisations that successfully implement unconscious bias training, also take a strategic approach to D&I. 


One of the best ways to do this is to conduct a diversity audit in order to inform the right diversity strategy and action plan for your organisation.


We find this method to be effective for two reasons:

  • The organisation can gain buy-in from key stakeholders
    e.g. by consulting with staff members.
  • The strategy is tailored to fit the unique needs of the organisation.

Diversity audits normally involve the following stages:

Population: This initial phase involves gathering and reviewing all available demographic data.

Policy: This stage involves reviewing the organisations policies and benchmarking them against best practice.

Practice: This often involves interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders & staff members to gain insight into how they believe policies are implemented in practice.

Perceptions: Generally, this involves an online questionnaire (informed by the practice stage) that is sent to all staff in the organisation. The goal of the questionnaire is to ascertain the perceptions that the staff have as a collective, about diversity and inclusion within the organisation.

Benchmarking: Another key element of a diversity review is benchmarking the organisation against best practice exemplars in the industry.

External Brand: It’s vital that the outward image of the company in relation to its services, clients and consumers is included in the audit. 


Unconscious bias training has grown exponentially in popularity in the last seven years and it is part of a broader positive change towards achieving inclusion and leveraging the potential benefits of diversity such as:

  • Increased productivity;
    Increased creativity;
    The attraction and retention of talent.

We ask you to first consider the long term and strategic objective of D&I in your organisation and how unconscious bias training may fit into that. From our experience and research, this approach will equip your organisation to achieve genuine inclusion and leverage the wide-ranging cultural and commercial benefits of diversity.

If you would like to learn more about unconscious bias, discuss or develop your organisation’s diversity & inclusion strategy, we would love to hear from you:


✆: +353 1 405 4880

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I am delighted to announce Ulster Bank as the winner of this years Excellence in Coaching Award. Congratulations!

It was a pleasure to be part of the judging panel and to see so many organsations committed to excellence in coaching.

We would like to thank the IITD and especially Sinead Heneghan for her continious energy and dedication to a very successful awards event.

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SEVEN is celebrating 7 years of positive change at work. As part of our 7th anniversary, we are sharing our perspective on 7 positive changes we have seen impact the workplace. We believe these changes can positively enhance organisations like yours – now and in years to come.

POSITIVE CHANGE # 1 OF 7 Strategic Management of Maternity & Parental Transitions

In our first 7x7x7, we we look at how organisations are moving to a more strategic and gender neutral approach to managing maternity & parenting in the workplace.


Becoming a parent is a complex professional and personal transition – typically occurring at the steepest incline in an individual’s career trajectory. How this transition is managed, by the line manager and the organisation, has a significant impact on the successful navigation of the change and also on the long-term retention and recruitment of talent. 

In 2015 SEVEN conducted research on ‘Managing Maternity in Ireland’ and found that only 11% of organisations are considered to excel in handling the maternity transition – among a sample of some 124 maternity returners. This tells us there is a real opportunity for organisations to do better in this area and differentiate themselves from their competition. 

Take a moment to reflect on your organisation – is it in the top 11%?



So what is currently happening when people return to work after having a child ? Traditionally this transition has been only partially supported – the focus has been placed mainly upon the point of departure with limited on-going connection during leave and minimal adaptation post return. 

We have seen this traditional approach is being challenged and we can identify three mind-set shifts that are evolving and creating an impact in more progressive organisations:



1. The first mindset shift is a move from seeing the parental transition as a short-term operational problem to be solved to one where it is considered a strategic talent and diversity management opportunity. 

2. The second shift requires managers to move away from taking a ‘hands off’ single point of contact approach – often pointing to HR and ‘delegating’ the issue – to continued customised support – before, during & after the transition. 

3. The final shift is more fundamental – towards gender neutrality. Maternity leave has traditionally been gender biased given current legislation and organisational policies. It is the mother that takes leave, is assumed to be primary carer and the parent whose career goes on hold. It really is time now to take a more gender-neutral and inclusive approach – where both parents are considered and included. 

These shifts are beginning to materialise in progressive workplaces and in our opinion there are three main drivers for this change: 

• EMPLOYEE PULL: The increasing generational expectations to work at organisations that respect work-life balance and inclusion. 

• LEGISLATION: The emergence of shared parental leave in the UK and other jurisdictions. 

• COMPETITION FOR TALENT: Organisational policies that are moving beyond local legislation in order to better meet the needs of parents. For example, Facebook now offer 16 weeks Parental Leave to all Full time employees and Arthur Cox have introduced a ‘Shared Parenting Leave Policy’ in order to facilitate Fathers/ Partners to share the untaken weeks of ‘Maternity leave’ traditionally allocated to the Mother/Partner. 


When we distilled the wisdom of those who have navigated this transition – through our research, our coaching and our workshops - the recipe for successfully managing the transition boiled down to three main themes: 

• Supportive managers who connected with parents throughout their transition. 

• Flexible mindset and approach that adapted to the needs of the parent. 

• A continued unbiased focus on their career development. 



A key tool for organisations that want to excel in this area is the provision of maternity/parental coaching to those navigating the parental transition. This is a real differentiator in terms of maximising the support and positive experience of new parents. 

We recommend a dual approach where both the Managers and the Maternity/Parental Leavers receive coaching sessions. Typically the programme involves coaching 6 - 8 weeks pre-leave, 6 weeks pre-return, 6 - 8 weeks post return and 12 months later to maximise long-term support. More and more organisations are now including this coaching as part of their strategic approach to managing the parental transition – maximising the reengagement and retention of talent post–leave. 


We have seen much positive change in how organisations manage maternity and parenting transitions, but it is an area on the cusp of even greater change. We ask you to consider what you can do in your organisation to better leverage the parenting transition for your employees so as to maximise their career potential and the value they bring to your organisation. 



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The Association for Coaching Ireland invites submissions for our 2017 ‘Excellence in Coaching Award’ in this the fifth successful year of collaboration with the Irish Institute of Training and Development. 

The Excellence in Coaching Award is aimed at those organisations that have successfully implemented a sustainable coaching climate via coach training, coach provision or evaluation. It can involve the use of external coaches but should be owned by the applying organisation. This award is looking for an initiative that has made a substantial contribution to employee development and organisational success. 

For details on how to enter, please click here.

The closing date for submissions is Wednesday, January 11th 2017 and all shortlisted applicants will be invited to deliver a presentation to the Judging Panel on Wednesday, February 1st 2017.

We know that many of our AC Ireland members are delivering excellence in coaching and we are delighted to have the opportunity to recognise this work. 

The winner will be announced and awards presented at a Gala Dinner in Killashee House, Naas, on Friday, March 3rd 2017.

As always we look forward to considering a rich and diverse range of submissions. 

Best thoughts 

Johanna Fullerton 

Head of Membership, AC Ireland 

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The seventh annual Council Meeting of the 30% Club Ireland was hosted by Facebook Ireland yesterday.

Johanna was an invited speaker and panel member at the event. Her presentation entitled 'Mind the Gap: Supporting, Developing & Retaining Talent Through Key Transitions' described how parenthood is a complex transition on a personal, professional and practical level.

The 30% Club is a global movement of international Chairs and CEOs who are committed to better gender balance at all levels of their organisations through voluntary actions.

The movement seeks to gain support for gender balance in business from leaders of public, private, state and multinational companies and other interested groups. 
The event, which took place at Facebook’s international headquarters in Dublin, was entitled ‘Lead with Purpose’ and saw a panel of women and men from leading business organisations discuss the issue of gender diversity in both the public and private sector. 

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On Behalf of the AC, I am delighted to announce eBay as the winner of this year’s Excellence in Coaching Award. It is in recognition of their innovative approach and commitment to growing coaching capability, scale and impact across their business. eBay have made coaching part of the day-to–day operations of their organisation and continue to invest in their coaching evolution. Congratulations!

eBay started an ‘intentional evolution’ journey with coaching in 2013, that has now grown to a stage where there are 42 dedicated coaches in their operations in Ireland, out of a Global Team of 120, a true demonstration of their commitment to coaching.

As part of ongoing development for coaches, eBay have established a Coach University, where twice per year, coaches get together for three days to learn, develop, share experience and build relationships.

In the evolution of coaching, it has gone from a service excellence initiative to business as usual, indicating how it is part of the culture at eBay. The evolutionary journey also reflects the maturing of eBay’s coaching philosophy and approach, with an emphasis on coaching behaviours rather than metrics. During 2015 they implemented analytics tools which enabled the coaching to be more targeted. 

We will showcase eBay’s innovative approach and their coaching journey with you over the coming months via our Master Class and Think Tank series. Their story is certainly something that will be an inspiration to us all and one you will not want to miss!

Special congratulations to our shortlisted nominees for this year, which included Chartered Accountants IrelandToward LtdCiti and Ulster Bank. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank most sincerely all of our applicants for investing time and energy into submitting such remarkable entries. Year-on-year our judges continue to be incredibly impressed with the quality and quantity of applications received for this prestigious award and the Association for Coaching in Ireland are very proud to facilitate the Excellence in Coaching Award with our partners IITD.

It is wonderful to see so many organisations committed to coaching and sharing our vision for inspiring and championing coaching excellence and we wish everyone success in building upon same into the future. With this in mind, we look forward to receiving your application for our 2017 Excellence in Coaching Award - make sure to keep this date in your diary:- IITD National Training Awards, March 3rd 2017!

Once again, our many congratulations to eBay, our 2016 Excellence in Coaching Award Winners.

Johanna Fullerton

Head of Corporate Membership

AC Ireland

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In line with our plans for growth and the increasing demand for our services, we are now seeking applications for the following roles:

Senior Business Psychologists


All applications to be sent to Olivia Rourke:  Closing date for applications is the 18th December 2015. 
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Johanna was recently interviewed as part of an article in the Irish Examiner; ‘Getting back in the workforce after maternity leave’. The article cites a recent survey by RecruitIreland, which found that 63% of mothers are apprehensive about returning to work post maternity leave.

Despite the return to work being a challenging period for many mothers, Johanna refers to the SEVENx7 research ‘Managing Maternity in Ireland: Maximising Reintegration and Retention’ and recommends that employers see maternity leave as a significant talent-management opportunity, rather than a short-term operational problem to be solved.

Moreover, Johanna points out the importance of employers keeping in contact with mothers during their maternity leave, as it eases the transition back and helps mothers to hit the ground running on their return.

Click here to read the full article by Helen O’Callaghan.

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