“When we talk about a culture of inclusion we think about an organizational environment that allows people with multiple backgrounds, mindsets, and ways of thinking to work effectively together and to perform to their highest potential in order to achieve organizational objectives based on sound principles.” (Maak, 2004, p. 139)
Our passion began with a passion and undeniable need to change the employment outcomes for autistic people. Our founder, a mother of both an autistic and ADHD person, once learning of the grim employment outcomes, started grit & flow with the intention to address this through research, consulting, and community.
As we began our research, we learned that success rates for employment for autistic workers were highly correlated with quality time and understanding by direct managers, including supervisors (Dreaver et al., 2019; Flower et al., 2019). Workplace communication practices that adopted “’ succinct,’ ‘clear’ and ‘explicit’ communication styles” (Dreaver et al., 2019) were also successful in employing autistic people. More and more research demonstrated that person-centered interactions and direct, clear communication were the keys to success.
As we progressed, the co-occurring diagnosis with other neurodivergent areas, such as ADHD and learning differences, in addition to mental illnesses like Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), we widespread across the autistic population. As we learned more, we realized it is difficult to address workplace adaption and challenges by only looking at autism. In time, our focus has moved to neurodivergent traits, both the positive and those that may create more of a challenge in a typical workplace.
As our consulting practice grew, we quickly identified our work centered around line managers having the support and confidence to meet the employees where they are by having various tools to manage different needs and scenarios. Because of each employee's depth of diversity and workplace needs, we identified that "one size does not fit all," and there is no playbook for including neurodivergent talent. Instead, constant conversations to discuss scenarios in the client's physical environment, culture, and individual jobs, knowledge, and skill gaps were identified. Short and contextual toolbox talks were quickly produced to educate and provide resources and, most importantly, prevent issues before they become performance issues.
As we continued with conversations and toolbox talks, we began to hear how much these tools were helping the participants manage all team members. As we progressed, it became apparent that the tools and approach we coach allowed managers to provide person-centered strategies for all team members. Even more importantly, the team members expressed increased feelings of job independence, empowerment, and being contributing members of the organization.
Positive organization processes and culture change continued to become apparent in our work. Instead of only helping with neuroinclusion, we were helping with all inclusion. Team members at our clients felt they belonged and were embraced, just as they were. We also see the “diversity fatigue” organizations face trying to address one layer of diversity at a time. The diversity fatigue taxed emotional availability for change, empathy, and time and budgets.
What if one approach embraced all our multiple layers of diversity?
What if team members felt an immediate increase in their
workplace belonging and inclusion?