Category: inclusion, disability, diversity and inclusion, Neurodiversity, Dyslexia, Autism, Disabilities, Active Inclusion, autistic spectrum disorder, ADHD, Wipro, autistic
Disability Inclusion is a key focus area within our Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) charter at Wipro. We have been working on several programs to strengthen this charter for over a decade. Our learnings from the journey continue to help us transform the way we engage with employees with disability, ensuring seamless inclusion.
At Wipro, we have a voluntary disclosure mechanism for employees with disability. This allows anyone with visible or invisible disability to communicate disability-related challenges and state their preferences / support required to work in accordance with our Reasonable Accommodation policy.
Persons with invisible disability such as dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD), dyspraxia, autism and others which are categorised under the umbrella of neurodiversity, represent a miniscule number at the workplace as compared to people with sensory or locomotor disabilities.
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), one in 160 children is diagnosed with autism. Another study reveals that about 15% people in the UK are neurodivergent. Yet, most people with neurodivergence may not reveal their condition to employers due to stigmas and apprehensions, fearing discrimination, exclusion, or loss of employment.
As an organization, we remain committed to providing a level playing field to all, ensuring fairness and equity. We acknowledge the fact that most neurodivergent persons may not prefer disclosing their condition. Hence, we are making conscious efforts towards their effective inclusion.
Empowering a few colleagues in this space has been an eye-opener and a win-win situation for both us as well as the employees.
Here are a few key learnings:
Despite several disability legislations across the globe underscoring non-discrimination of persons with disabilities, people with neurodivergence feel insecure. Hence the employer’s role is crucial in ensuring their inclusion.
The problem with labelling
Persons with neurodivergence who join the mainstream workforce are undoubtedly accomplished. Hence, they should not be labelled, ridiculed or their potential underestimated.
There may be a spectrum of deficiencies that hinder people with neurodivergence from working efficiently such as poor concentration, social behaviour or poor interaction, among others. We have learnt that playing to one’s strength is the way to enable them.
Assign projects / responsibilities as per the individual’s strength and provide them with the necessary reasonable accommodation in the form of tools or an enabling environment to level the field.
This is similar to accommodating neurotypical counterparts who may not be proficient in a particular language or other areas. We accept these deficiencies as ‘normal’ because they are not restrictively categorised under any disability. Likewise, we need to demonstrate inclusive attitudes and behaviour towards our neurodivergent colleagues as well.
Strategies for utilization and engagement
Trust is key for any successful relationship. Besides empowering the individuals, employers should place trust in neurodivergent employees. It is important to be conscious of one’s biases and make efforts to eliminate them. As a best practice, it is good to involve a member of the Inclusion and Diversity team or a Disability officer while setting expectations for the job/role to ensure it benefits both the organization as well as the individual.
Empowerment along with expectation-setting helps tap into the unique potential of persons with neurodivergence. Studies have proven that most neurodivergent persons have innate lateral thinking, problem solving and other abilities which can bring a competitive edge to the business.
Creating a conducive environment
Since there is a spectrum of challenges which is unique to each individual, having a personalized approach is necessary. A wholistic approach, in consultation with the individual, can help determine changes that may be required to remove any attitudinal, environmental or infrastructural barriers.
Some of the best practices could be assigning a buddy/mentor, educating managers about the implications of the neurodivergent condition and methods to overcome the challenges, making reasonable accommodation for any preferred way of working such as designating a particular seating, devising a communication mechanism, among others. Additionally, it is important to check if any tools / gadgets are required by the individual to enable them to perform well.
It is imperative that organizations learn to embrace alternate ways of working to tap into the potential of individuals.
These practices may seem like additional investments. However, if we observe closely, some of these are regular strategies that empower everyone to work better.
It is critical for organisations to adapt an inclusive culture where each person feels valued. Inclusion is truly a business imperative.