Podcast

Our podcast ‘Let’s Talk Universal’ is hosted by our interim CEO Erica Birtles. It explores the idea of a universal workforce and how organisations can foster neurodiversity and total inclusion in their operations.

Latest episode

Jarell Bempong

Feb 15, 2024

About this episode

What do neurodiverse workers really need to thrive? Erica and Eliana discuss the value of mentorship and peer support, and how ND Connect formed a community helping people to achieve their full potential through building connections that work for them.

Guest bio

Eliana Bravos is a social impact entrepreneur passionate about neuroinclusion, accessibility, and creating a world where many worlds fit. She’s a co-founder of ND Connect, a intersectional mentorship and peer connections platform for neurodivergent people. Eliana also co-founded a non-profit, Viability, where she led organisational development, community programming, and neurodiversity education initiatives.

Previous episodes

Jarell Bempong

Jan 23, 2024

About this episode

In today’s diverse and interconnected world, empathy is no longer optional. It’s a critical component of thriving workplaces and successful DEI initiatives. But true empathy goes beyond surface-level understanding; it demands cultural consciousness.Ignore it and ‘you will become a dinosaur and die out’, due to the growing awareness of the importance of identity on personal and collective well-being. This episode dives deep into the intricate relationship between cultural identity, mental health, and workplace wellbeing. Join Erica and Jarell Bempong in their discussion about how companies can bridge the gap between mental health and wellbeing in the workplace by incorporating cultural consciousness and an intersectional lens.

Guest bio

Jarell Bempong is a Neurodivergent Advocate, Pioneer in Cultural Conscious Therapy and the author of “White Talking Therapy Can’t Think in Black! – A Journey Through Systemic Biases to Mental Health Empowerment”.

He is the Founder and Lead Therapist at Bempong Talking Therapy, using a framework that integrates cultural consciousness into therapeutic practice. As a Corporate Trainer and Consultant, his focus is on integrating mental health, DEEI, and AI into corporate wellness, reshaping organisational behaviours towards total inclusion and fostering more inclusive, culturally conscious, and mentally healthy workplaces that embrace neurodiversity and diverse communities.

Sandra Ballij

Jan 11, 2024

About this episode

We talk to Sandra Ballij about how her company, Ctalents, helps people with visual and/or auditory impairment to reach their career ambitions, why it’s important for organisations to foster disability inclusivity, and why it might be the key to closing the prevailing talent gap.

Guest bio

Sandra describes herself as social entrepreneur pur sang and queen of inclusion. In 2007, she made a career shift from banking to social entrepreneurship by starting Ctaste, a dining in the dark restaurant, where “only the true experts of the dark” (blind waiters) provide an unforgettable service. This marked the beginning of her inclusion adventure and learning. She has also established sign language coffee bars, where deaf baristas teach customers how to order in sign language. This experience opened her eyes to the talents and possibilities which she believes other companies can also benefit from, leading to the creation of Ctalents – a talent agency and secondment business that addresses the need for talent in an innovative way. She ensures compliance with regulations such as social return and Dutch participation law/quantum law. Collaborating with corporate and governmental partners, she takes a genuine step forward into inclusion. Her passion lies in changing the world into true inclusion through innovative and entrepreneurial means.

Estela Lugo

Jan 4, 2024

Estela Lugo | How to Talk About Disability in the Workplace

About this episode

In this episode, we talk to Estela Lugo about how employers can foster inclusivity for disabled workers and employee well-being as key to organisational success. We navigate the nuances of discussing disability as a organisational leader, the significance of listening over speaking, and the key elements that contribute to building a workplace that supports the well-being and career growth of every employee.

Guest Bio

Diagnosed with CMT at four years old, Estela’s professional background in design, marketing, trend forecasting, and creative direction brings an unexpected approach to connecting the disability community to wellness, empowerment, and health. In 2018 she joined the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation as their Program Development Manager. Estela has testified before the ⁠FDA⁠ on the patient experience and the importance of funding CMT studies and potential therapies. She’s a moderator for the CMT-Connect ⁠webinar series⁠ and co-hosts ⁠EmBrace It Podcast⁠ along with Lainie Isbia. They also provide inclusion workshops focusing on improving advocacy & DEI through communication tools. In 2019, Estela gave her first TEDx talk ⁠“RePurpose Your Pain”⁠ on turning adversity into life’s most beautiful work. She co-teaches inclusive and adaptive design at the Fashion Institute of Technology for their ⁠Design for Social Impact ⁠program. Estela is represented by ⁠Gamut Management,⁠ an all-inclusive talent agency.

Dec 5, 2023

Ed Thompson | Your Team Is Already Neurodiverse: Challenging Misconceptions

About this episode

Are companies underestimating the neurodiversity of their teams? Join Erica and Ed the founder and CEO of Uptimize, the leading neuroinclusion training company, whose mission is to help organizations embrace and leverage every type of thinker. As they discuss the challenges of measuring neurodiversity when many people don’t disclose it or even fully understand the concept.

Guest Bio

Ed Thompson is the founder and CEO of Uptimize, the leading neuroinclusion training company, whose mission is to help organizations embrace and leverage every type of thinker. Born and raised in London and educated at the University of Oxford, Ed founded Uptimize in 2016, recognizing the urgent need for greater understanding and appreciation of neurodiversity within the working world. His role with Uptimize has afforded him unique insights and connections with pioneers in the neurodiversity at work field across the world, and he is now a frequent speaker on the topic. He and Uptimize have been featured by outlets including LinkedIn, the BBC, People Management magazine, ⁠HR.com⁠, and the Financial Times.

Nick Bruno

Nov 23, 2023

Nick Bruno | Aspiritech: A Neuroinclusion Success Story

About this episode

Join Erica and Nick Bruno, VP of People & Culture at Aspiritech, a company that claims around 95% of its workforce identifies as neurodivergent, as they discuss the ‘secret sauce’ to attracting, hiring and retaining neurodivergent talent.

Guest Bio

Nick Bruno is the VP of People & Culture at Aspiritech, a nonprofit dedicated to providing meaningful employment for adults on the autism spectrum. With a passion for neuroinclusion, Nick brings expertise in cultivating workplace cultures that embrace invisible diversity and redefining inclusive employment practices.

Nick Bruno

Nov 15, 2023

Cheryl Hurst | Setting realistic DEI goals within your sphere of power

About this episode

Join Erica and DEI expert Cheryl Hurst in their discussion about the current state of the DEI market, how diversity and inclusion leaders can move beyond the ‘do-gooder’ role and how organisations can measure their culture. They also talk about Cheryl’s company PeopleGaps, which is removing barriers to equity, diversity, and inclusion knowledge. 

Guest Bio

Founder of PeopleGaps and DEI expert, Cheryl Hurst, specialises in gender (in)equality and career development. She applies principles of behavioural science to topics such as making use of professional networks, achieving career goals, and creating inclusive cultures. She’s a Chartered Psychologist with a PhD in organisational behaviour.

Nick Bruno

Oct 31, 2023

Wanda Deschamps | Accessibility & increasing neurodiverse participation at work

About this episode

In this episode, our guest Wanda Deschamps talks about why accessibility needs to be included in DE&I, the need for representation of women with autism, and how neuroinclusivity efforts benefit everyone in the process. 

Guest Bio

Wanda is the founder and principal of Liberty Co–a consultancy focused on increasing the participation of the neurodiverse population in the workforce, with a special emphasis on autism due to Wanda’s own diagnosis at midlife. Her approach is centered on the IDEA (Inclusion-Diversity-Equity-Accessibility) framework and highlights inclusive leadership, entrepreneurial thinking and employee retention. A champion for inclusion, she enjoys speaking and writing under the banner of the Inclusion Revolution, a worldwide movement launched in 2018 to spearhead broader thinking about disability, especially disability employment.

Nick Bruno

Oct 31, 2023

Rebecca Friese | Design thinking & creating cultures that don’t suck

About this episode

In this episode, our host, Erica Birtles, and organisational consultant, Rebecca Friese, discuss ‘design thinking’, why it matters and the role it plays in shaping effective, human-centred workplace cultures.

Erica and Rebecca also talk about the changes happening in the DE&I landscape, and why diversity and inclusion should still be a priority for organisations today.

Guest Bio

Rebecca Friese is a ‘workplace crusader’, helping organisations transform into future-thinking cultures where their people can thrive. She’s an experienced consultant in the field of organizational transformation, change management and innovation.

Rebecca is the co-founder of FLYN and the author of The Good Culture: The Leader’s Guide to Creating a Workplace That Doesn’t Suck.

Katherine McCord

Oct 3, 2023

Katherine McCord | Breaking Ego, Leading with Curiosity and Creating Symbiotic Working Teams

About this episode

Join our Interim CEO, Erica Birtles, and Katherine McCord, CPO of Titan Management, in their discussion around how leaders can foster inclusion in their teams by breaking ego and leading with curiosity.

Additionally, Katherine highlights the importance of symbiotic working relationships and how those team dynamics help to foster inclusion in the workplace while driving innovation and productivity for a business. Erica and Katherine also reflect on the topic of neurodiversity, discuss why it has become increasingly popular over recent years and why incorporating neurodiversity into the workplace should be a priority for organisations.

Guest Bio

From being the little girl who sold shares in her ‘company’ and played HR (even firing her own mother!) to the traveling People Operations entrepreneur and international speaker that she is now, Katherine has had quite a journey! She has multiple physical and neuro diversities, ranging from MCAS and seizures to Bipolar and OCD, and says, “I am successful WITH my diagnosis, not in spite of them.” Wether it is revolutionising HR Tech, innovating DEI, Recruiting, and HR for clients, or being the Board President for the global nonlinear and neurodiversity group, The Octopus Movement, Katherine always brings everything back to her three missions: integrity, inclusion, and innovation.

Katherine McCord

Sep 18, 2023

Samantha Amit | Mindful leadership and inclusion: where’s the link?

About this episode

In this episode, Erica interviews Samantha Amit about building inclusion through mindful leadership, what organisations can expect to gain as a result, and how confident, mindful leaders naturally create inclusion in their teams.  

They talk about Samantha’s ACT (Achieve-Connect-Thrive) Mindful Leadership programme that helps business leaders be more confident, productive, focused, and to connect with others more effectively. Samantha also treats listeners to examples of mindfulness practices that can help them on their journey towards mindfulness today.
 

Guest Bio

For the last 15 years, Samantha Amit has been coaching managers in global companies to lead more effectively and thrive at work and in life. She coaches high achievers to build greater resilience, carve out time to think and be strategic. Her clients gain new perspectives that extend beyond themselves to those around them. Through the activation of mindfulness leadership tools, they are able to communicate more effectively with upper management and their teams. 

Samantha offers several modalities including one on one, online and team training.  Samantha co-authored with Professor Passmore, Mindfulness at Work, the practice and science of mindfulness for leaders, coaches and facilitators.  

Katherine McCord

Aug 28, 2023

David O’Coimin | Creating more inclusive and engaging workspaces

About this episode

In this episode, our interim CEO, Erica Birtles, interviews ⁠David O’Coimin⁠, Founder of ⁠Nook⁠, on how to create more engaging and inclusive work spaces. Hear from David about the problems he identified in the workplace and how Nook helps to solve those issues. Erica and David also touch on examples of things organisations can do to take that first step towards creating a more psychologically safe work space, the gains they can expect to see in their workforce as a result and what the future of work space looks like.

 

Guest Bio

Based between Amsterdam and Bristol, David O’Coimin is a product and experience designer and social-minded founder with a passion for people, places and the planet. Operating under the mantra of ‘Design For The Extreme Benefits The Mean’, David helps organisations realise the full potential of their space and the people who use them, with a particular focus on flexibility and neuroinclusivity.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank David for participating in this podcast and to announce that we will be seeing him again in March at the UWI European Summit 2023. He will be presenting on this exact topic and delving deeper into the adjustments organisations can make to foster neuroinclusivity and psychological safety in their workplaces.