Curious about our role in the conversation surrounding neurodiversity and a universal workforce? Here we provide you with a deeper understanding of our role, our values, and our efforts in fostering workplaces that genuinely celebrate neurodiversity.
How it all began
The UWI was formed following a discussion of our largely neurodiverse team. We received resounding interest in some of the conference talks we’d done on the run up to summer 2023 and identified an enthusiasm in employers to tackle the combined issues of inclusivity and low employment rates for neurodivergent people.
The whole team wanted to do something to move from talking about DE&I to doing something about it, but the considered view was that you can’t fix one area of DE&I without impacting on other inequalities. Neither do neurodiverse workers (or other minorities) always want to be singled out and characterized for their diversity.
This led us to conclude that the ultimate solution to diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace is to engineer positive habits and behaviours that bring equality for all. That means raising the bar of ‘belonging’ for everyone.
Our mission is to create great work and great futures for the following generations by building a community of people set on creating a universal workforce – a workforce where everyone feels like they belong. We knew that the best way to achieve this was to not place commercial gain in the way. We want everyone who can to help around the table; we want the best ideas, the greatest enthusiasm, the smartest solutions—no matter who comes up with them. It’s for this reason that we’re a social enterprise. That means we comply fully with the Social Enterprise Council guidelines in terms of our constitution and ownership model, and we run a business where any profits go into achieving our mission and supporting good causes.
About our focus on neurodiversity
Recently, neuroinclusion has become a trending topic. We’ve been speaking with many DE&I, HR and procurement leaders about their neurodiversity initiatives and noticed that there was an obvious enthusiasm to make it work. However, these initiatives have hit some roadblocks and many are wondering if this will ever change. As a result, our immediate focus has become how to create a neuroinclusive workforce.
Therefore, it needs to be said that though we speak a lot about neuroinclusion because it’s what people want to talk about most, the universal workforce concept is one that encompasses and looks to benefit all diverse and underrepresented groups. Furthermore, it isn’t framed exclusively at DE&I and inclusivity, it’s a broader topic that seeks to answer the question of how business leaders can create workplaces that work better for everyone, including the folks with a stake in the company (yes, even the shareholders). We’re passionate about embracing principles of reciprocal altruism (‘tit for tat’) and equipping managers and leaders to be better at their craft—and better equipped too!
What actions do we take?
Raise the debate
There are already great speakers, suppliers and thought leaders in this space doing a fantastic job. We don’t want to steal their limelight, but what we do want to do is amplify the conversations and make sure more people are able to hear about the incredible work being done to tackle the challenges faced by industries and society as a whole.
If that sounds like you, there are several ways you can get involved. You can register as a Friend of the Institute to keep updated on our publicly accessible content. If you are a thought leader or practitioner you might want to become a Member, have your organisation take out a corporate membership, or even step up as a Fellow of the Institute to lead the conversations in our forum and at the events we’re hosting. Let’s amplify these conversations together!
Aggregate experts and research
The thing about these topics is, they’re like those giant, ever-growing creatures with new tentacles sprouting up every day. There is so much information and research out there that you can’t possibly find it all with a simple Google search.
The UWI is on a mission to build a community. We’re bringing together thought leaders and experts across various business backgrounds to tackle this information overload. We’re like the librarians of the business world, helping bring together all the information into one place. We categorise their perspectives, expert guidance, and research and organize it neatly into easy-to-digest categories. Think of it as your one-stop-shop for all things related to these complex topics.
Develop new ideas and methods
Why go through all this effort if we’re not pushing the envelope and creating fresh ideas and methods, right? That’s why the UWI is not only curating knowledge but also actively engaged in developing innovative rating systems, maturity models, and strategies for a universal workforce. Our Fellows and Ambassadors lend their invaluable insights to guide this process.
Furthermore, we develop new ideas and methods through not only our digital community, but during our workshops that dive deep into various facets of the universal workforce concept. Plus, our summit events cast a wider net, covering an broad spectrum of workforce topics. That’s how we cook up and refine novel ideas and methods to keep this conversation moving forward. Why not check out our upcoming events?
Build useful resources
It’s a legitimate concern – the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming. Expecting DE&I leaders, procurement heads, and Chief People Officers to digest and act on everything they come across about making their workplaces more inclusive is quite a tall order.
That’s precisely why, as one of our initiatives at the UWI, we’re taking it upon ourselves to simplify the process. We see it as our mission to distill this wealth of data into more manageable, bite-sized chunks. Our goal? To provide practical resources for those driving neuroinclusion initiatives and aiming to boost the performance of both people and procurement functions in the quest for top-notch talent.
What’s in our toolkit, you ask? Think topic flashcards, workshop frameworks, coaching for managers, innovative recruitment tools, and user-friendly interfaces tailored for neurodiverse candidates, not to mention performance measurement solutions – the whole shebang!
Our aim is clear: We want to turn neurodiversity and universal inclusion from lofty ideals into actionable, real-world strategies. No more pipe dreams, just tangible results.
Helping leaders become more strategic
In recent months, it’s become apparent that ‘checkbox culture’ is still very much alive and thriving with many organisations still trying to fulfill a quota of diversity within their workforce – neurodiversity being the latest to be added to their list. Likewise, the role of DE&I executives is still considered to be a ‘do-gooder’ position rather than a strategic leader of behavioural and cultural change.
Businesses are having a tough time accepting that their culture needs to change in order to become more agile and innovative, that the two go hand in hand. Unfortunately, business leaders don’t always recognize that DE&I leaders are well-positioned to help drive change within their company and improve organisational outcomes.
Therefore, the UWI is not only a vehicle of information and a community of likeminded people, but also a resource to help DE&I and HR leaders, as well as procurement heads, make their role more strategic and valuable to their companies. Our goal is to bridge this understanding gap and help drive meaningful change.