When one talks about conditions such as dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD/ADD, and so on in the workplace, what thoughts come to mind for you? Thoughts around disability and inclusion or thoughts about the potential that individuals with these conditions bring because they think differently?
Neurodiversity is an umbrella term that describes someone who thinks differently as a result of experiencing a specific learning difference (SpLD). So often the challenges within the workplace for one who is neurodiverse is that the environment within which they work plays to their weaknesses and so then their specific way of thinking then becomes a problem as they try to fit in with the expectations of the workplace.
With this in mind, are employers, therefore, missing out on an opportunity that could pave the way to innovation by not having in place an effective disability and inclusion strategy for their company?
In January 2022, Ernst and Young, the global financial consulting firm, announced that they have selected their Manchester office to be a Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence (NCoE).
EY stated, “The NCoE is designed to create a supportive working environment for individuals with cognitive differences – such as autism, dyslexia, and ADHD – that will help them to apply their strengths and meet client’s business needs in emerging technologies, such as, artificial intelligence, data analytics, automation, blockchain and cyber.”
Globally the company already has six NCoE offices in the US, three in Canada, one in India, Poland and Spain and they have plans to expand further. The aim being to untap talent and fuel growth in exciting ways.
In EY’s announcement, EY’s Managing Partner for Client Service in the UK & Ireland, Alison Kay, said “Just 22% of autistic adults are in any kind of employment in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Yet, neurodivergent individuals are typically highly proficient in some of the ‘in-demand’ skills of right now, and in the future. EY’s UK Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence will help harness some of these skills, boosting innovation for our clients and our own business.”
Other businesses are also valuing Neurodiversity.
At GCHQ, they have in place a workplace adjustment process for people with “disabilities, conditions and cognitive processing differences” that incorporates their dyslexia and dyspraxia toolkits that are there to make sure that there are no barriers to working at GCHQ.
Assistive Technology is key in supporting colleagues with neurodiversity in being at their best.
Aventido has seen first-hand how individuals who utilise assistive technology unlock their potential simply because it enables them to manage their difficulties within the workplace so that their strengths can shine.
Cognitively and emotionally, working ‘on the back foot’ is not helpful for the individual or for the organisation that they work in so it makes sense to make assistive technology available to individuals preferably as part of a wider corporate D&I strategy.
If that isn’t the case, individuals can look for support from the UK Government through the Access To Work Scheme, whereby a needs assessment takes place and technology that will help the individual will be provided along with specialist training.
This is great, but the challenge with all training is the retaining of that newly acquired knowledge. The training is so often delivered ‘in one hit’ and as such the individual perhaps hasn’t had the time to explore the assistive technology that has been provided as well as understand how it fits in with their work practises. The risk, therefore, is that the training gets forgotten over time and the enthusiasm to use the assistive technology dwindles.
How to maintain engagement with and the utilisation of assistive technology.
Aventido has recently announced the availability of an ‘e-learning system’ called ‘atWork’. This software is used by people within the workplace as a resource to maintain their level of knowledge about how to use the assistive technology that has been provided to them as well as link that technology in with their day-to-day tasks. Users of atWork become more confident in using their assistive technology as well as become more productive.
If you would like to know more about atWork then contact our product specialist, Matt Dean by clicking here.