Phase 2 of our project focuses on the development of a Neurodiversity at Work (r)evolutionary inclusion model. This aims to equip business leaders and staff, especially those in the SME sector, with strategies and tools to support inclusion and realise the value of neurodiversity in the workplace.
The model is based on training of SME management and staff and piloting of good practices in 5 different areas:
- awareness raising
- recruitment and onboarding
- retention and professional development
- adaptation of work environment
These topics were selected arising from the knowledge gaps evidenced in our phase one research and based on the lived experiences of neurodivergent individuals and the barriers they face in workplaces. These include:
- management practices, career development paths as well as work environments which are designed with neurotypicals in mind
- lack of knowledge about neurodiversity and the benefits of respecting and valuing it
- lack of strategies and methodologies to support neurodivergent workers, to value their skills and realise their full abilities
- lack of data and information about neurodivergent workers
The training modules were developed by our project partners, and reviewed and tested with stakeholders at a training event in Vienna in October 2023. Following this, the modules were further reviewed and translation began as we will provide these resources in the four project languages (Bulgarian, English, German and Italian). The training modules have been designed to be delivered flexibly, either in person or online, to allow flexibility given the time demands on personnel within the SME sector.
Piloting at the national level in Austria, Bulgaria, Ireland and Italy commenced in late 2023 and continues into spring 2024, where the training modules are being piloted with leaders and staff from companies in the SME and microenterprise sectors. The training focuses on deepening understanding of neurodiversity, providing practical guidance on strategies to remove potential barriers, and thereby creating an inclusive workplace which can benefit from the strengths and diverse talents of all its personnel. The idea behind this project is to start thinking, as already is happening in many companies, that the neurodiversity of an organisation’s staff is a richness and has the potential to drive the business towards a more equal and prosperous future.
Thus, our Neurodiversity at Work (r)evolutionary inclusion model contributes to innovation in Vocational Education and Training (VET) by allowing the development and provision of continuing vocational training programmes, as well as specialised consultancy actions, to European SME leaders and staff. This will support the recognition of the value of neurodiversity as a key asset in their work environment and practices, guaranteeing the well-being of employees as well as providing concrete benefits for the organisation.
We will be sharing the resources and training materials here soon. With the business case for diversity as a whole now accepted, organisations aiming to be truly inclusive employers will then have access to these resources to support them on their journey to becoming fully inclusive, neurodiversity-friendly organisations.