Skip to content
Follow us
Contact us
Robert Irving Burns
April 12, 2023
by Robert Irving Burns

Diversity Recruitment: Think Differently

When we think about diversity, we often consider things like gender, race, age, sexual orientation, or religion.
But rarely diversity of the mind, or cognitive diversity.

Are you employing clones?

When we think about diversity, we often consider things like gender, race, age, sexual orientation, or religion.

But rarely diversity of the mind, or cognitive diversity.

Cognitive diversity is admittedly complex. It is about differences in the way people think, process information, and approach problem-solving.

To build a diverse team, we must consider specific skill-sets.

As an example, two surveyors or asset managers may have different genders or nationalities, but if they think alike, use the same models and ask the same questions, possibly set by the organisation they work for to solve problems, they’ll arrive at the same conclusions.

However, if we recruit people who use different models, their own ideas, and ways of processing information, they’ll draw on different data, ask different questions and make different assumptions.

And this diversity of approach will increase the teams’ likelihood of making new, innovative and often important suggestions to the team for consideration.

Why is diversity in recruitment important?

When people with different viewpoints and approaches come together, they can generate new ideas that may not have been considered otherwise.  A collective “team wisdom” like linking lots of computers together. Is that even possible?

A team with cognitive diversity is better equipped to adapt to changing circumstances. The ability to think differently and approach problems from multiple angles can help a team respond faster and more effectively to unexpected challenges.

At Robert Irving Burns we know that having a cognitively diverse team only works if your team are free to express their opinions, thoughts and ideas. There is no point in employing smart people and then straight jacketing them.

However, it is still important to have a team which demonstrates and embraces your corporate values. A few years ago now, I sat down with my senior leadership team to discuss and brainstorm what made a good RIB person. A number of ideas were banded about, and we came up with the acronym CLEAR.

This was a great word in its own right to describe the people we are and the people we like, clear, transparent, open, but as I said it was an acronym to set out our stall and we still ask how have you been clear?

CLEAR people are: Collaborative, Learners, who are Engaged, Accountable and Respectful.


Successfully diversifying your team

These are all essential elements for achieving success in any personal or professional endeavour. Whether it’s working on a project with colleagues, or simply interacting with others in daily life, these qualities are critical for building meaningful relationships and achieving common goals.


  • Collaboration is the act of working together towards a common goal, and it requires open communication, active listening, and a willingness to compromise. By collaborating, we can leverage each other’s strengths, ideas, and perspectives to achieve more than we could alone. This is particularly so in a multi-disciplinary firm like ours.
  • Learning is a lifelong process, and it requires a growth mindset, and a commitment to self-improvement. For us at Robert Irving Burns we put money behind our words, with every single person in the company being eligible for an annual learning grant and not just for mandatory CPD stuff.
  • Being Engaged means actively participating in the task at hand, whether it’s attending a meeting, contributing to a discussion, or completing a project. It requires focus, attention and a sense of purpose.
  • Accountability means taking responsibility for our actions and decisions, and being willing to accept the consequences of our choices. It requires honesty, integrity, and a commitment to follow through on our commitments. By being accountable, we build trust and respect with others, and we demonstrate our reliability and dependability. This goes both ways up and down the ladder. I am accountable to every member of my team who are in turn accountable to each other and ultimately our clients.
  • Respect is the foundation of all positive relationships, and it requires treating others with kindness, empathy, and dignity. It means recognising and valuing differences, being open to diverse perspectives, and fostering a culture of inclusivity and equity. By showing respect, we build strong connections with others and create a more harmonious and productive environment.


If you think you could fit into such a culture, think differently and are looking for a change, then get in touch – we are super busy and looking for new CLEAR colleagues in every department.