This week (March 18th-24th) is Neurodiversity Celebration Week. Every year, Neurodiversity Celebration Week organises a range of events intended to encourage conversations around neurodiversity and highlight the contributions of people from neurodivergent backgrounds.

Neurodiversity refers to the natural diversity of human minds, and acknowledges the whole spectrum of neurodiversity – from neurodivergent individuals, to neurotypical individuals. Whereas, the term neurodivergent is an umbrella term used to describe individuals who have a mind or brain that diverges from what is typical, including autistic individuals or ADHDers. Increasingly, in recent years, employers have come to realise that being neurodivergent-inclusive isn’t just the right thing to do morally, but that it can also bring real business benefits, harnessing alternative ways of thinking and generating genuinely fresh ideas.

This applies to the public transport sector – bus, coach and rail – as well; the rail sector in particular is facing a burgeoning skills crisis and its existing workforce is ageing, so it needs to tap into new pools of talent. But what does it mean to make UK transport a neurodivergent-friendly place to work?

Deepening awareness, promoting respect

The first step towards creating a workplace culture that’s truly inclusive for people from neurodivergent backgrounds is training. Employers in the transport sector, and more broadly, should seek to raise awareness about neurodiversity through training and awareness programmes.

These might include, for example, information about various neurodevelopmental conditions and what these mean for people living with them. In addition, these programmes should discuss the challenges commonly faced by people from neurodivergent backgrounds, including in the workplace, and what measures others should take to support them effectively.


Be flexible

Creating a -friendly workplace for neurodivergent people requires a degree of flexibility, and a willingness to accommodate people from those backgrounds. It is essential to remember that these colleagues have specific needs, and that unless these are accommodated effectively, they will most likely be unable to perform to their full potential.

Employers should therefore create space for neurodivergent individuals.


Create a sensory-friendly workplace

One accommodation employers can make to create a neurodivergent-friendly workplace is to provide measures such as quiet areas and using calming colours, where practicable. These spaces can give neurodivergent individuals a calmer space to go to when they feel the need, which is another important way of accommodating them and supporting them in the workplace.


Supportive management matters

In any line of work, and whatever your background, having the support of management always makes a huge difference. From a neurodivergence standpoint, it’s crucial that managers genuinely appreciate the importance of being accommodating to neurodivergent individuals and are prepared to back that up with action.

Managers should also be trained in supportive management practices, with that training being specifically tailored around neurodivergence. For example, it should cover areas such as communication and providing constructive feedback, as well as adapting other management practices to the specific needs of neurodivergent individuals.


Rethink your recruitment process

Recruitment processes should also be revised to take account of neurodivergence. It is important to ensure that you’re being inclusive from the very outset, so make sure your job advertisements are written clearly and concisely, listing key details such as the salary and the necessary skills and experience for the role.

Employers should also think about their assessment methods and how these might be adjusted so that neurodivergent candidates are given a genuinely fair chance; some such candidates may perform better in practical scenarios than theoretical ones, or vice versa. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this.


Establish peer support networks

As people who are neurodivergent face specific challenges in the workplace, it’s important to have support networks consisting of other people who’ve been through similar experience. Peer support networks can therefore play a crucial role in making the transport industry more friendly towards the neurodivergent community.

Peer support networks can provide employees from such backgrounds with a space to link up with others who have found themselves in similar situations, discussing how they’ve addressed the challenges they’ve encountered and offer mutual support, as well as empowering them to continue to change the industry’s workplace culture to make it more inclusive.


Feedback and regular review

Where practices and processes are changed to make the workplace more welcoming and supportive, these should be reviewed regularly to see whether they’re providing neurodivergent employees with the support they need to flourish and succeed.

This is why employees should be encouraged to provide feedback (anonymously, if that’s easier) about their experiences, and to suggest changes where needed. This can produce highly useful insights for managers about what they’re doing right and where, if anywhere, they’re going wrong – enabling them to make the necessary adjustments and introduce new initiatives.

Intuitive recently held an online webinar on neurodiversity in transport, featuring expert speakers Ian Chapman, Practice Director at AtkinsRéalis, and Harry Saville, Consulting Business Psychologist at Lexxic. You can watch the full webinar here.

Whether you’re a candidate looking for the perfect leadership-level role in UK transport or an employer in the industry searching for dynamic, talented leaders, Intuitive can help. Get in touch with us today and find out more about what our team of expert recruiters can do for you.

WE would love to get to know you!

Please do give us a call, drop us a message or follow us on Twitter & Linkedin!

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