This week, I saw out the month of July in great fashion, as I delivered my presentation on the topic of neurodiversity in the workplace for the second time. My audience this time around was Kocher & Beck and I was delighted to have another engaging and interested group who are obviously keen to embrace equity and diversity.
It is of paramount importance that people can engage with the topic you are talking about, whatever it is. There really is nothing worse than awkward silences. And I should know; because of the way in which my neurodivergent profile presents. I find myself constantly trying to fill space with conversation. However, having recognised this I am working more on trying to be the question-asker (and response listener) rather than dominating the conversation. I am hoping this will only improve the way in which my presentations are given and received.
Life is about continuous learning and improvement so next time, to make my presentation even better, I plan to take some more practical task-related materials with me. My next trial will be a traits and condition matching task, which I hope will also spark more conversations about neurodiversity generally – something which is so important if we as a society are to overcome some of the awkwardness that can often prevail when discussing ‘disability’.
The latest opportunity for me is to deliver my presentation at Hinckley Library, at an event titled ‘Support for you and your workforce’, which is a collaboration with Inspired to Care, of which Enrych are active members. This would be a fantastic opportunity for me to raise awareness about the ways neurodivergent conditions can impact people in their working lives along with promoting how easy it is for employers to provide support to overcome challenges, whilst also developing a wider network. Enrych has recently achieved Disability Confidence Leader status and we are keen to help all employers overcome some of the concerns about supporting disabled colleagues in the best way. I am keen to do more of this and to develop more professional connections, as I am so passionate about my message and encouraging more diversity at work. Inviting me in to do my presentation is just the first step and demonstrates a real commitment from organisations to understanding more. I also have other things that could link into this and help organisations reach out to a potential group of people whose potential has not yet been fully realised.
Continuous progression is what I want to see. What I would love to do ultimately, is to help organisations to both embrace the employees they have for their own unique profiles. I have mentioned numerous times throughout my presentations what Enrych have done to support me. I shall forever be grateful for the ways they have enhanced my confidence. And this is one of the key questions I ask: what do YOU think a positive support plan looks like in order to create a sustainable workforce? One of the key points I always make is that once you fully support neurodivergent individuals within your working environment, this will vastly improve the experience for neurotypical employees as well. Why is that? Well, understanding how to support your employees as individuals is key to helping retain staff and a neurodivergent person can bring many skills and talents to the workplace.
If, like me you follow Dr Nancy Doyle, one of the key questions she asks is “Should we be signposting people into jobs based on their diagnosis? Should we seek people with certain diagnoses for jobs? I have been asked before if neurodivergence should be a recruitment strategy- hiring the Autists for tech, the Dyspraxics for their teaching and coaching skills, the ADHDers for marketing and sales etc. The answer is, sadly no, because it is not that simple. Everyone is an individual and their skills and talents should be assessed based on whether or not they have the attributes required for the role.
This is exactly why I use my presentation as an opportunity to share information about myself. Because without this, one could just assume I have exactly the same Dyspraxic profile as everyone else with the condition. If it worked like that, wouldn’t it be utterly boring. You may get tired of hearing it, but if you have met one person with Dyspraxia, or one person with Autism, or one person with ADHD or one person with Dyslexia, you have met one person with each of those conditions, you haven’t met the whole community. You have met just one individual, with their own unique story to tell. And by hook or by humour, the same fire in my belly will remain to keep shining the light on neurodiversity, and how it can have hugely positive implications for your business once neurodiversity is taken as simply another personality trait.