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According to shocking research from Westminster AchievAbility Commission for Dyslexia and Neurodivergence, 70% of employees with neurodivergence experience discrimination at work.Crucially, only 10% of employers claim to address neurodiversity in their policies and practices.
As the neurodivergent workers’ union, GMB hopes that the new Thinking Differently at Work campaign will make workplaces more diverse and inclusive.
Neurodivergence is a term that covers autism and autism spectrum conditions, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, among other conditions.
Only 32% of people with autism are currently employed, and only half that number work full-time, according to the National Autistic Society. This is despite 77% claiming that they want to work.
Meanwhile, the number of employees with dyslexia using Access to Work support has increased by 15% in the year between 2015/6 and 2016/7, according to a freedom of information request to the DWP.
Disabled people more generally are more likely to be unemployed (8.8% versus only 3.4% for the non-disabled population).
GMB rep Sherine Thompson said, ‘Since joining GMB I have my confidence and inner joy back – and now see my dyslexia as a gift that enables me to think out of the box and utilise my creative side.’
GMB Equalities Officer Nell Andrew said, ‘Whilst we might be in the in the dark when it comes to knowing the true financial impact of discrimination against neurodivergent workers, we do know the massive detrimental impact on neurodivergent workers’ lives.
‘Employers struggle to provide appropriate support and adjustments, with only 10% of workplaces having specific policies and practices on neurodiversity inclusion and support.
‘We need better training, policies and support for managers to ensure their neurodivergent employees don’t lose out – from loss of dignity and confidence, progression opportunities and for some neurodivergent people like me, even losing out on job opportunities
‘Neurodivergent workers are not looking for not pity, “special treatment” or a one-size-fits-all approach to reasonable adjustments.
‘We want the right to achieve our full potential, to develop careers and to access training, and have the opportunity to succeed and be valued at work.
‘The GMB neurodiversity toolkit aims to start discussions that go beyond lazy stereotypes and lead the way on workplace policies that focus on support and strengths.
‘We want employers to start thinking differently about having a neurodiverse workforce and recognise and help unlock the talents and experience of neurodivergent workers.’