This week is Neurodiversity Celebration Week (NCW) and Christie Riley of our People Team has organised a jam-packed week of activities internally that will help bring awareness, educate and celebrate neurodiversity. But what is neurodiversity? And how can we help support NCW? We caught up with Christie to ask our questions…
Can you tell us a little more about what NCW is?
We are supporting Neurodiversity Celebration Week (NCW) which is a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences.
I wanted to bring Neurodiversity to the forefront of everyone’s mind and take the opportunity to create awareness across the business and beyond. This is not just close to my heart in a professional capacity, but also in a personal way. Neurodiversity celebration week 2023 is the perfect opportunity to educate and celebrate all the different people in the world, break down the stigma and challenge any myths or stereotypes, and empower everyone.
It is really important for organisations to understand the skills and advantages of neurodiverse people. At Techmodal we like to have conversations that are challenging and thought provoking to create a more inclusive culture. We aim to challenge how neurodiverse individuals are perceived and how we will support them as a business now and moving forward.
So, what is neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is about differences in brain function. Generally the majority of people are neurotypical, this means they perceive the world in the same or a similar way; whereas 1 in 7 people are neurodiverse and their brains are different to neurotypical people. They have differences in social understanding, sensory processing, communication and information processing, and see the world differently to that of a neurotypical person.
Neurological differences are spectrum conditions such as Autism, ADHD, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and many more. Under the neurodivergent umbrella (image right) you will see all the spectrum conditions listed. Neurodivergent people think differently and can often excel in innovation and creative thinking, be highly skilled and if embraced and supported, are a huge benefit to society and organisations.
What makes NCW and the supporting activities so important?
Neurodiversity Celebration Week is really important as it shines a spotlight on the worlds different brains, breaks down the stereotypes and challenges old thinking around neurodiverse people. If supported and embraced, neurodiverse employees and people alike can be successful in life and as neurodiversity is on a spectrum from mild to severe some individuals will require more support, but if we can change the tide of how neurodiverse people are seen at an organisational level I feel we will be making leaps and bounds in an ever changing and accepting society.
How can someone help support the wider NCW project?
Everyone can support this by being kinder, more open minded, dispelling any myths and challenging any microaggressions. We need to be brave; although NCW gives a great week of focus on neurodiverse individuals and provides the opportunity to host awareness, educational and celebration sessions, this is not something that we will only think about this week. This has to remain engrained in our culture and we will always keep the conversation going.
What is Techmodal doing to raise awareness of neurodiversity internally to support NCW?
We have a week long programme of internal Lunch and Learns for colleagues. These are hour long, lunchtime sessions hosted either in-person from our office in Bristol or virtually where employees can learn more about a topic they are interested in. As an organisation we share a huge catalogue of Lunch and Learns that include topics from new tech, business updates to sharing new ideas. This week will focus in on the topics surrounding neurodiversity; taking the business on a journey from Monday through to Friday including a wonderfully raw and emotional story of acceptance from one of our neurodiverse employees.
How do we currently support our neurodiverse employees and how do we plan on supporting them going forward?
Currently, once we are aware of a neurodiverse employee, we offer Occupational Health (OH) as well as having access to private medical insurance, which gives pathways to Mental Health support. This support is open to all employees and we actively ask our employees to open up and let us know when they need support. We have found this really does help our neurodiverse population because they can go and see a OH specialist that will be able to report on the reasonable adjustments the business can support the individual with. We are also starting a support network where neurodiverse employees can talk out their challenges and find the support network they need by talking to their peers.. One of the myth’s we will be dispelling (spoiler alert) is: “Neurodiversity is a Mental Health condition” it is not, everyone whether neurodiverse or neurotypical, will have a mental health issue over their course of their lives, this can be caused by life events or can be an ongoing mental health problem; however, neurodiverse people are more likely to suffer with mental health problems, therefore we need to have access to the right support.
The work Christie and the People Team are doing to help bring awareness of NCW will be promoted across our LinkedIn company page throughout the week. We encourage your support to increase awareness of neurodiversity and NCW this week and beyond.