Blog: Neuro-inclusion, creating an inclusive workforce

Here at Onward we believe that it is important to bring your whole self to work. If we all thought the same, looked the same, behaved the same and shared the same skills and interests, where would we find our inspiration to create new things? A diverse workplace is an important asset and fundamental for maximum productivity and overall business success. So, for Onward it makes business sense.

What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is the natural variation in human brain functioning. The term neurodiversity, indeed, refers to the infinite range of differences in individual human brain function and behavioural traits. The term is also being used to represent an area of organisational equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) that seeks to embrace and value all types of information processing, learning and communication styles.

Why does understanding neurodiversity matter? 

A lack of awareness and understanding of neurodiversity means it has rarely been considered in the design of workplace processes, management practices, environments or in the way work is organised. The norms and ways of working that emerge may therefore suit some but not others – perhaps as many as up to 20% of people who identify as neurodivergent in some way. Neurodivergent people may find themselves marginalised by organisation cultures, processes and technology that don’t consider their thinking styles.

Neuro-inclusion is a journey and not a tick box exercise

Many people are unfamiliar with the concept and organisations are unaware of its importance. Starting small and slowly is fine, but this needs to signal the start of an ongoing effort to embed neuro-inclusivity across everything your organisation does. Having one speaker or ‘lunch and learn’ session is helpful in launching the conversation and demonstrating interest, but more is needed to ensure genuine, positive cultural change.

Creating an Inclusive Workforce

Here at Onward we have a number of support mechanisms in place to support neurodiverse colleagues, which includes:

  • Making adjustments for candidates at interview stage who declare they are neurodiverse.
  • Provide a platform for colleagues to share their own neurodiversity journeys i.e. we recently held a live webinar where an individual talked about their recent ADHD diagnosis.
  • All colleagues receive access to a cash plan where they can access neurodiversity support and, in some instances, claim the cost back (up to a certain amount).
  • Provide access to a host of Neurodiversity Mindtools and training materials on our learning platform (Our Learning), which all colleagues have access to.

At Onward we have an on-going commitment to support Diversity & Inclusion and celebrating difference across the workplace. We have an Equity Forum who meet on a monthly basis to discuss how we can continuously improve our ED&I offering, as well as celebrating key milestones throughout the year. Onward are also a Disability Confident and Living Wage employer and we currently hold the Investors in People Silver accreditation.

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