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Diversity is more than just a tick box exercise



Last week I wrote a blog "be a tick outside the box not inside the box" and it was, about how I was sick of employers advertising for jobs and just basically copy and pasting the discrimination law in their job adverts and also using the same advertising method that has been used for the past 20 years


This week on world autism acceptance week I want to write about what I look for when searching for new employment. Things that show me an employer is potentially going to be more accepting of someone like me with a disability. 


Why do you think it is important to be diverse? What does this mean for you and your company, and is this something you are prepared for? A lot of my energy at a new company initially, that is not familiar to employing someone that needs accommodations, is spent in meetings explaining why I need accommodations. What if the world and employers were operating in a way that when I started a new job it was just normal day to day. No issue, here is a list of accommodations we can offer if you need others let us know and we will implement them straight away.


For me personally, having to constantly explain to every single person I have to work with or who manages me, why I need certain accommodations in place or how to best support me, is absolutely exhausting. There comes a point where I give up explaining and just retreat. My job becomes a day I have to get through rather than something I enjoy. The hardest part is when managers or colleagues ask ‘why you need’ certain things, so you sit and explain to them why this is the case and their response is ‘but that's the rules for everyone’ or ‘nobody likes change’. 


Imagine something you really want in life, whether that be a holiday, car, sleep… imagine you are having to tell everyone why you want these things and how these things will enrich your life and make your life better. How many times would you tell people or put it another way, how quick would people get annoyed you asking and telling all the time about the same thing?


Now imagine you told someone once this is what you wanted and that person said “Here you go, there is money for a car or a holiday” How happy would you be or relieved would you be? How much loyalty and respect for that person would you have if they gave you what you needed?


Whilst meetings are important and I don’t deny that, meetings about the same issues you have already explained are the ones that are exhausting.


You have just been given a new car or a holiday and are thrilled. I in the past have asked if I can listen to music to help me concentrate on a job I am paid to do and told no, because no one else is allowed to. However, no one else can’t stay in the office for more than 15 minutes without having to go to the toilet just for peace, to stop themselves having a meltdown. Then be reprimanded for never being at their desk but still somehow managing to get more work than most of the team done. 



When I apply for a job I must try and get across in a cover letter and 2 pages why my 20 years of work experience and me as a person is worth taking the time to interview; I feel employers should put more effort into saying why I would also want to work for them. When I apply for a job for example, I am going into the company blind. I have no idea of the layout of the building, no idea of the people who are going to interview me, no clue of what the interview entails or what I will be asked until I get there and most importantly I have no clue of what the culture of the business is like, as normally when you go for interviews you only see the hiring managers and don’t get to sit with everyday members of the team.


What I would love to see more employers start to do in 2024 is a link to their webpage and on that webpage include a video tour of the office, with a tour of the room you are likely to be interviewed in.


A couple of videos of current employees saying about the role and what they like about the company as well as a 60 second intro to the managers within the department or team you will be working in if successful in the role.


What those 2 simple things do for me personally and I know will help others is breakdown the barriers.


If the employer likes the CV submitted by the person, it would be useful at first point of contact to provide an introduction and a simple agenda of next steps as well as a direct contact for the person overseeing the process whether that be a telephone number or email or both. 


Another thing that would be useful when applying to jobs is maybe companies advertising why they are a diverse company. Do you have mental health first aiders? Have your managers been on any training courses? Do you have a DEI team?


Salary and working hours. Please can this be normalised in jobs. I no longer apply to jobs that do not have salary or working hours including the break patterns.


Do you also offer flexible working? Most worked from home during covid, is this something you can still offer employees? 


The accommodations I ask for cost next to no money. They all revolve around the environment and I work best in environments I have control over. So for me working from home is and has been a complete game changer for me and I will never return to full time in office work. I do however, see the benefits of working in an office so would not be opposed to working in an office if the environment is right.


For me a good office is one that is not:


  • Crowded

  • Open Plan

  • Brightly Lit

  • Has old fashioned chunky keyboards

  • Hot Desk Heavy


A good office for me is one that is:


-Naturally lit

- Has designated quiet stations

- Has modern equipment

- Has mental health workers

- Has quiet, modern equipment. 


Accommodations I would like to see on disclosure of disability:

  • Options for different onboarding pathways 

  • Meetings with immediate management at the same time so they can ask questions

  • Ongoing support

  • Upskilling of managers and team members inviting people to come in and do talks or workshops

  • Acceptance that not everyone's the same but the focus is getting the job done and achieving the goals. 


The start for a higher employment rate for autistic and other disabled people is to treat people like adults and support them with what they are asking for. 






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