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Navigating Neuroinclusion: A Guide for Employers

Over the past few years, we have seen a marked rise in awareness of neurodiversity, as well as campaigns for awareness and inclusion in the workplace for neurodiverse employees. Recognising and accommodating neurodiverse employees is not just a moral imperative to foster diversity in the workplace, but may also a legal obligation for employers in the UK under the Equality Act 2010. Neurodiverse employees may be considered disabled under the Equality Act, and if so, employers have a legal obligation to make adjustments for them. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have published a guide on neuroinclusion at work to assist employers in supporting neurodiverse employees.

The guide provides definitions of neurodiversity, which are acknowledged to be working definitions, subject to change as our understanding of neurodiversity changes. The guide focuses on forms of innate neurodivergence, such as autism and ADHD.

Neuroinclusion refers to creating an environment where individuals with neurological differences can thrive, leveraging their unique talents and perspectives. The CIPD guide defines it as ‘consciously and actively including all types of information processing, learning and communication styles’. Employers and policy makers play a crucial role in fostering neuroinclusion within their organisations, and encouraging colleagues to adapt to different styles of learning and communication.

It can be intimidating for employers to know where to start when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion policies, so here are some key tips for employers to enhance neuroinclusion in the workplace:

1. Training and Awareness

Employers should prioritise educating themselves and their workforce about neurodiversity. Neurodiversity is often an invisible disability and educating staff on what this means is a great first step. This training should include discussions of the challenges that neurodiverse employees may face in the workplace, but it should also include training on the understanding the various strengths and benefits that a neurodiverse workforce can bring to an organisation, in order to foster empathy and reduce stigma. Training sessions, workshops, and informational resources can help raise awareness and promote acceptance.

2. Flexible Policies and Practices

Neurodiverse employees may have diverse needs to their neurotypical colleagues. An employer looking to have an inclusive workforce, and to attract talent, should consider implementing flexible working policies and practices. This could include flexible working arrangements, tailored communication styles, and adjustments to the recruitment and selection process. By embracing flexibility, employers can create an inclusive culture where all employees feel valued and supported. This will also assist employers in meeting their legal obligations under the Equality Act and ensuring that all employees are supported.

3. Reasonable Adjustments

This links to the above tip, but it is important to emphasise this obligation. Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. As we said above, neurodiverse employees may be disabled under the Equality Act, and it is important for adjustments to be made if needed to ensure they are not disadvantaged in the workplace. These adjustments could range from providing assistive technologies and ergonomic workstations, to offering additional support and mentoring. By proactively identifying and implementing reasonable adjustments, employers can empower neurodiverse employees to perform at their best. It is really important to remember though, that each employee is different, and how a neurodiverse condition presents for one employee, may not be the same for another.

Lucy Densham Brown

Solicitor

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+44 118 960 4655

Remember that building a neuroinclusive workplace is an ongoing process that requires continuous learning and improvement.

4. Open Dialogue

Creating open dialogue is crucial for fostering a supportive environment where neurodiverse employees feel comfortable disclosing their needs and seeking assistance when necessary. Employers should encourage regular feedback and provide avenues for confidential discussions. This links nicely to the tip to provide training, as by opening up the communication about neurodiversity and reducing stigma, this will help to foster this open dialogue. By promoting open dialogue, employers can address concerns promptly and collaboratively find solutions.

5. Promoting Inclusive Leadership

Leadership plays a pivotal role in driving neuroinclusion within an organisation. Whilst the change needs to come across an organisation, employees will look to their line managers for examples of appropriate behaviours. Leaders should lead by example, demonstrating a commitment to diversity and inclusion in their actions and decisions. By promoting inclusive leadership practices, employers can set the tone for the entire organisation and inspire positive change.

6. Continuous Learning and Improvement

The CIPD guide states that ‘Neuro inclusion is a journey, not a box to be ticked’. This is the last tip to take away with you, to remember that building a neuroinclusive workplace is an ongoing process that requires continuous learning and improvement. Employers should regularly evaluate their policies, practices, and initiatives to identify areas for enhancement. A key way to ensure that you are meeting the needs of your employees, and creating this culture of change is to get feedback from employees.

These are just some of the tips that can help you get started in making a neuroinclusive workforce. If you want some more tailored support for your business, please do reach out to our employment lawyers, who would be happy to help!

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Disclaimer
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Lucy Densham Brown

Solicitor

View profile

+44 118 960 4655

About this article

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