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Neuroinclusion at work – a new resource from the CIPD

29 February 2024

New guidance highlights need to embed inclusive practices to support neurodiverse staff.

Employers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to create workplaces and cultures which value and respect diversity, including neurodiversity. There is a greater understanding of the benefits which spring from more diversity of thought and ways of thinking within the workforce and an appreciation that becoming more neuroinclusive will benefit the whole organisation.

There are also legal risks in failing to take steps to ensure neurodiversity is understood and that any barriers for neurodiverse staff are acknowledged and alleviated as far as is reasonable. We have previously reported on a number of cases where neurodiverse employees and job candidates have brought claims in the employment tribunal alleging they have been discriminated against in relation to their neurodiverse condition as a disability under the Equality Act. For more detail see Reasonable adjustments for neurodiverse job applicants and  Employee’s aggressive conduct did not arise from disabilities (available on our website). 

The CIPD has now published a very useful guide to Neuroinclusion at Work which is a good starting point for leaders and managers seeking to create a neuroinclusive culture. 

The guide makes clear that neuroinclusion is not a tick box exercise or one-off event and that it requires a long term commitment to embedding neuroinclusivity in everything the organisation does.

The fact that we are all neurodiverse, in the sense that no two brains are alike and that different people think differently means that focusing on neuroinclusive practices will benefit all staff. Employers are encouraged in the guide to invite all staff to request adjustments and to be flexible in how work gets done, as well as when and where work is done.

The guide flags the need for person-centred and tailored support for individuals where needed, but also the importance of creating a wider culture where all employees feel safe to ask for what they need and where privacy is respected. There is also a focus on listening to the individual rather than making assumptions about what they need.

Training is a key step in making the organisation more neuroinclusive, putting in place neurodiversity awareness training across the organisation with the aim of normalising conversations about neurodiversity, while also training managers on having open and effective conversations with their team about neurodiversity.

The guide stresses the importance of creating a culture where diversity, including neurodiversity, is respected and valued (and not just accepted). This includes taking an empathetic approach to management, seeking to create psychological safety for speaking up, and ensuring that people’s strengths are utilised.

Helpful examples are provided for adapting recruitment processes to ensure they do not exclude neurodiverse candidates. These include steps to ensure that interviews are not a test of social competence rather than a test of ability to perform the role.

The guide provides pointers for improving the retention of neurodiverse staff, including considering job design for progression and establishing alternative ways to recognise achievement.

While the focus is on neuroinclusion permeating the organisation at all levels, the guide highlights the importance of senior leadership championing neurodiversity and “walking the walk” when it comes to living the values of the organisation in the workplace.

The guide also includes some practical starting points and sets out six key principles for creating a neuroinclusive organisation:

Principle 1: Understand where you are now and commit to a long-term plan of action

Principle 2: Focus on creating an open and supportive culture where people feel comfortable talking about neurodiversity  

Principle 3: Proactively consider neurodiversity in all people management interactions  

Principle 4: Allow individual employees to be masters of their own journey  

Principle 5: Embrace flexible working to enable everybody to thrive  

Principle 6: Practice ongoing attention to wellbeing  

Principle 7: Empower neurodivergent voices  

The central theme of the guide is the need for an approach which does not see neurodiversity as a problem to be solved, but as an integral part of the organisation and a positive asset to its work, with neuroinclusive ways of working leading to a more open, balanced and productive workplace.

How Wrigleys can help

The employment team at Wrigleys is expert in helping charities, third sector and education sector clients with developing HR policies and practice, and with complex employee relations, including allegations of discrimination from neurodiverse staff.

Importantly, we work within the wider charities, social economy and education teams at Wrigleys and so we also have in-depth understanding of how our clients’ wider governance and regulatory obligations, and their relationships with key stakeholders and funders impact on employment processes and decisions. Our wider team can further help to minimise your risks by providing advice on charity law, trustee and director duties and delegation of powers, reporting to the regulator, and reputational risk.

 

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Alacoque Marvin or any of the employment team on 0113 244 6100.

You can also keep up to date by following Wrigleys employment team on X.

The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. The law stated is correct at the date (stated above) this article was first posted to our website. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Alacoque Marvin

Partner
Leeds

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