It’s relatively likely (unless your workplace is particularly hostile to those whose minds work differently) you DO have NeuroDivergent people on your teams RIGHT NOW.
If you DON’T have NeuroDivergent coworkers (that you know about), it could point to a more significant issue – that people don’t feel safe and lack the emotional safety needed to share this part of themselves in your spaces.
OR suppose there TRULY are no NeuroDivergent People in your space. In that case, your space could be so hostile to NeuroDivergent People that it is chasing them away (or preventing them from being hired).
Let’s assume you have NeuroDivergent coworkers right now (whether they’ve shared this information with you or not):
While fixing your physical workspaces and changing organizational policies are very concrete, some changes organizations need to make spaces more accessible to all NeuroDivergent People are a bit more ambiguous.
Organizational culture describes and defines how an employee is expected to behave within an organization. At the center of an organization’s culture sits its commonly shared values and beliefs (all of which must be supported by planning, careful design, and structure).
A strong culture is a common feature among successful organizations. A company’s culture will impact the collaboration and productivity employees demonstrate daily.
Strong cultures often have fewer disagreements, enhanced trust and cooperation, and are more efficient when making decisions.
People who work within organizations with strongly defined cultures can easily understand how leaders within the organization would want them to respond in any situation. For an organization’s culture to improve performance, its beliefs, and values must be widely shared and firmly upheld.
Successful (values-driven) organizations go out of their way to communicate their cultural identities to all team members. Their values drive them and allow their values to determine how the organization will run.
Organizations must decide which values to emphasize and communicate them to all team members.
If you don’t actively create the culture you DO want within your organization, a culture you DON’T want can develop organically.
An ineffective or toxic culture can weigh an organization down, leading to poor communication, high turnover, disengaged employees, bad customer relations, and lower profits.
Before starting as an independent NeuroDiversity Consultant, I was the VP of Marketing and Organizational Change Agent for an AMAZING (and truly inclusive) consulting firm.
Our culture at the firm was not defined by “perks.”
We were a values-driven organization, meaning we had a culture of shared core values that were clearly outlined and understood by ALL team members.
Organizational cultures are constantly evolving, meaning the best employers regularly assess and audit their organization’s culture, helping to ensure that teams and departments can stay engaged, productive, and satisfied with their work.
In addition, certain types of organizational cultures are naturally more inclusive than others.
Some workplace cultures should also be avoided at all costs (as they can be highly toxic to those whose minds work differently or who have other disabilities).
For example, organizational cultures that encourage toxic positivity and shame people into hiding their weaknesses and struggles can be exceptionally harmful.
I like to call this the “everything’s fine culture” where nobody is willing to speak about an organization’s conflict, problems, or pain points.
In these environments, showing weakness (or needing help) is often taboo.
When this type of culture forms, even NeuroTypical and non-disabled team members may be hesitant to speak up when they need help, feel overwhelmed, or are being assigned more than they can realistically handle.
Though “everything’s fine cultures” are hard on everyone within an organization, they are most harmful when people NEED to ask for help. In cultures that champion self-sufficiency and discourage people from asking for help (or speaking up about struggles and weaknesses) people with disabilities may feel unable to ask for the accommodations they need (and are legally entitled to) because doing so means they may be looked down upon by leadership and peers.
Proper accommodations are often necessary for NeuroDivergent and disabled people to access equitable employment opportunities.
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