Heidi from our Business Advice Plus team attended the Neurodiversity; A New Paradigm Conference last month along with colleagues Paul, Ellie and Lisa. Read about Heidi’s day as she reflects on an insightful and important event.
Heidi, Paul, Ellie and Lisa
At the end of June, I attended Neurodiversity; A New Paradigm – A Conference for Professionals at St Georges Hall, Liverpool. I found it very insightful, as a mum, an employee, and a business adviser.
The business forums that I attended focused on larger companies such as Heathrow Airport, IBM, AstraZeneca and the changes they are making within their organisation to create a more neuro-inclusive workplace. All the speakers had personal stories and experiences to share which were very inspiring, and the underlying messages throughout the day were:
- Neurodiversity in the corporate world needs more attention
- Diversity of thought gives better client value and businesses have that capacity within their workforce already but aren’t tapping into it. Everybody has different strengths, ways of working and skill sets, and organisations must look at what barriers they are creating that exclude neurodiverse people from either working to their full potential or even accessing employment in the first place.
- Those present were encouraged to ‘motivate the change ’by striving to become a neurodiversity-friendly organisation, develop a Neurodiversity Strategy and draw up a Diversity and Inclusion Policy. They also encouraged any CEO’s and senior management to declare their neurodiversity (if applicable!) to give hope, encouragement, and inspiration to the younger generation, who are typically judged for what they can’t do rather than what they can excel in.
There were several exhibitors at the events, and a couple of businesses in particular that I thought could provide some support for the clients we work with at The Women’s Organisation. One of the biggest barriers that I come across when supporting neurodiverse clients is the writing of a business plan. At the conference I spoke to Petra and Richard from Enabling Technology, an Assistive Technology and Workplace Coaching company who offer training and support to employers, employees or self-employed people that have disabilities and need additional systems in place to work.
There are 3 tiers to their support, awareness training, assistive software, and strategy training.
The awareness training is self-explanatory they help educate on disabilities and raise awareness in a work environment. The assistive software is tech that can offer text to voice support, dictation software, mind mapping software and advanced grammar and spell check, and they can provide additional training om all tech. The strategy training helps develop skills in time management, task management and anti-procrastination techniques.
The company are providing this under the Access to Work scheme, so any employee can find the service and apply for it through their employer, the employer will purchase the services and then claim the funds back through the access to work scheme.
I also spoke to Nick from I Want A Standing Desk Ltd, who demonstrated a lightweight, portable wooden standing desk which could offer people with ADHD a more comfortable and productive way of working. Nick is looking for schools and workplaces to carry out trials on several units, so I will be keeping in touch to find out more!
Some additional info I would like to share;
- 30-35% of business owners have ADHD, Dyslexia or both – this not only shows the entrepreneurial flare of people who are neurodiverse, but also emphasises the need to ensure that business support packages are addressing their needs.
- The ADHD Foundation is running a Neurodiversity Award – this is for all organisations big or small who are interested in ensuring that they attract, retain and support a truly neurodiverse workforce. This is an online accessibly designed e-learning course for completion by employees.
- Research suggests that 1 in 10, but possibly as many as 1 in 5 are on the dyslexia spectrum. 1 in 20 have ADHD and 1 in 20 have dyspraxia.
If you would like to find out more about the ADHD Foundation and the work they do, visit their website here.