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Posted 16 May 2022

Championing hidden talents, powering purpose, benefiting society

Genius Within celebrated its 10-year anniversary last September by publishing a report on its decade of progress.

Founded by Dr Nancy Doyle, an Occupational Psychologist and now Genius Within’s Chief Research Officer, it is a social enterprise dedicated to facilitating neurodiversity inclusion through consultancy, talent assessment, workshops and coaching for businesses. It works with the government, businesses, the unemployed and people in the Criminal Justice system.

Ten years after set up, this Lewes-based organisation might well be the most important CIC that you have never heard of.

​Then again the work of Dr Doyle and Genius Within was featured heavily on two series of the BBC programme Employable Me, helping people find meaningful and sustainable work and employers to avoid missing significant pools of untapped talent.

​As Dr Doyle, a proud ADHD-er herself, said when she established Genius Within: “Talent and ingenuity were thwarted wherever I looked. I knew this was a moral, social and economic problem and I set out to fix it. It turns out that the market was ready for an innovative, professional, strengths-based model of assessments and coaching.”

​Initially Genius Within had one employee and seven associates, but now boasts more than 50 employees and 180 associates in a team of professional psychologists, work coaches, and human resources professionals who provide coaching and ongoing support to individuals whilst also supporting employers to help them accommodate and benefit from the employment of neuro minorities.

​It has also provided a service to tens of thousands of neurodiverse/ divergent people across the world. For example, more than 10,000 people have accessed the website’s screener service to explore their strengths and challenges, while Genius Within has helped moved 500 people out of unemployment.

Queens award logo. Text reads: The Queens award for enterprise: promoting opportunity 2022.

​From the start Genius Within has also sought partnerships and works with hundreds of employers and thousands of individuals to create and promote inclusive workplaces worldwide. Regardless of business size, the aim is always to help people overcome barriers to work, to work at their best, and to ensure businesses have the tools in place to create inclusive environments. 

​Now in its first year of a second decade, it is celebrating winning a Queen’s Award for promoting opportunity. Jacqui Wallis, Genius Within’s CEO, said: “I hope this Queen’s Award will raise awareness of what we do so we can make a difference sooner. It is an endorsement of the excellence of the work that we have always done and continue to do.

​“We are proud to be a CIC and sometimes our work is hard, but it is always purposeful. We use our funds to deliver for those who use our services and to support our communities and so it would be fantastic, through this award, to be able to support more organisations and individuals. Being able to expand would mean a lot to our dedicated, creative and passionate staff, who never baulk at barriers but look for alternative routes. The work we are doing is valuable and powerful, and the proof is in the phenomenal amount of positive feedback we routinely receive.”

That is because Genius Within always enables those it works with to step forward boldly. Jacqui, who herself has Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, said: “Whenever we talk to individuals we talk about what they are great at. They have been through education, probably had a hard time, maybe been unemployed and told that they cannot do much, so we always flip that narrative and start with what they can do. 
“Our whole culture is about finding someone’s ‘genius within’. The premise is: ‘whoever or wherever you are, there is a workplace for you to be at your best’.”

In the last year, Genius Within has established a ground-breaking initiative with Birkbeck College, University of London, to open the first research centre dedicated to neurodiversity at work currently looking at recruitment, retention, and the workplace to influence with data, good evidence-based policy in the future. 

It has also just launched the Blooming Genius Foundation, with an aim to support young, neurodivergent individuals. The organisation is also looking to grow in the UK by opening a Birmingham office in the near future and to develop its fledgling I/O Psych operation in America, which is already growing rapidly.

Jacqui said: “Our coaching and training has profound effects, not just changing working lives but entire lives, because after a lifetime of someone being told that they are not very good at something to finding that the opposite is true can generate new purpose and focus.

“We know the world isn’t set up for neurodivergent individuals, who can be isolated and excluded and have had to navigate it with their own strategies. We want to break down those barriers and provide their metaphorical map. Because society, as a whole, benefits in multiple ways when individuals have purpose.”

Friday 13 MAY 2022 10:15 AM
Read the article online here