5 top tips to make your organisation more neuro-inclusive

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Author: Rachel Boyle, Emerging Talent Manager at BCLP; Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Legal Neurodiversity Network (LNN) and Founder of Nurturing Neurodivergence

Our understanding of neurodiversity has advanced considerably in recent years. And it is important that employers stay ahead to get the best out of their diverse talent. One in seven people (15-20% of the population) are neurodivergent* – an umbrella term that includes autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Tourette’s, dyscalculia to name but a few.

It is likely that someone you work with is neurodivergent – whether they have shared that with you, or not. Creating a psychologically safe space for all employees is crucial to enable our neurodivergent people to share their needs, and reasonable adjustments so they can thrive and ultimately succeed in their role.

At BCLP, I have seen firsthand how making small adjustments – such as implementing technology from Text, Read and Write, or adding coloured screens – has made our trainees feel more confident and able in their roles, ultimately enabling them to be more productive.

So what can you do to be more neuro-inclusive? Here are some top tips: 

1. Supervisor and manager training:

Spreading education and awareness is key- so much depends on how informed managers are on neurodiversity. Give people the insight and tools to act and support. Lunch and learns are helpful bite-sized sessions which can unlock supervisors understanding to the topic. An overview of neurodiversity, and the varying neurotypes is helpful for leaders to gain awareness of the diverse minds in their teams, and how best to allocate work for clients. This understanding allows teams to be more resourceful, creating better solutions. Shout out to @Daniel Aherne at Adjust Services, who delivered fantastic supervisor training at BCLP and we would recommend to other law firms.

2. Join a network: 

To ensure you are sharing your experiences and challenges – see what other firms are doing in this area, and what best practice looks like. The Legal Neurodiversity Network (LNN) advocates for better representation and support for neurodivergent people in law.  It is about connecting neurodivergent individuals and allies; educating and sharing challenges as well as celebrating neurodiversity in all its forms. The network has achieved incredible things so far; being used as a case study in the latest government Buckland Review of Autism in Employment, produced by Sir Robert Buckland. We continue to push boundaries to level the playing field for our neurodivergent colleagues.

3. Make reasonable adjustments where possible: 

From IT to desk location. Work with your HR, Emerging Talent teams and Managers to input additional support. There is an array of technical support on offer; from Grammarly, Text, Read and Write to Dragon, noise cancelling headphones to name but a few. A change in desk location can also be a quick win: those who struggle with noise may be best to move away from printers or loud corridors to prevent distraction and overwhelm.

4. Provide mentors for your neurodivergent people: 

Nurturing Neurodivergence is a mentoring initiative uniquely designed for peer-to-peer mentoring within the legal sector to enable more neurodivergent individuals to feel empowered, supported and connected to like-minded people in law and thrive in their career journey. The main focus of this initiative is the power of connection. Through shared experiences, and mutual encouragement, Nurturing Neurodivergence cultivates a network that empowers neurodivergent individuals to thrive in the workplace. You are matched on your neurotype and will have 3-4 mentoring sessions. If you have neurodivergent talent and are already working in law, or are a student looking to get into law and are interested in finding out more, email: info@nurturingneurodivergence.com or visit nurturingneurodivergence.com

5. Celebrate diversity of thought:

Brains are wired differently and let’s celebrate this! Neurodiverse candidates bring so much to the table: hyper focus; attention to detail; creative solutions for clients and within teams; and loyalty. Encourage open conversations at work. Get involved in Neurodiversity celebration week and similar events but also make sure you walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

It is important that we all take tangible steps to understand, support, celebrate and harness our neurodivergent talent. After all, this makes not only good human sense but also good business sense – everyone wins.

*Gov.uk, 2021

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