Neurodiversity Platform: creating an inclusive workplace
The new Neurodiversity Platform supports staff who need better working conditions because they have ADHD or autism, for instance. Stefan de Jong, who is organising the Platform’s first online meeting on 15 November, tells us about the initiative. Register now if you’re interested.
What does the platform do?
‘I’m the point of contact within the University for staff who want information or advice, for instance because they’ve been diagnosed with autism or another form of neurodiversity. They can mail us at our new address: email@example.com. I pass on to the Diversity Office any input that keeps cropping up – like complaints about specific working conditions – so that this can be addressed by the University as a whole. For students we already have the Fenestra Disability Centre, but there was nothing similar for staff. An autism diagnosis isn’t necessarily a handicap; it can also be a strength that means, say, that people are really good at focusing. But they can be extra sensitive to things that are much less likely to bother other colleagues.’
Can you give an example?
‘Take me as an example: I’ve got a form of autism and when we were all still working in the office, I didn’t like my room. It officially met health and safety requirements, but for me it was too dark and had bad acoustics. I brought this up, and there’s now better lighting and less of an echo. And that benefits my colleagues too.’
What will you do at the online meeting on 15 November?
‘We’ll begin by explaining all about the new platform and how we want to expand our network within the University. Ideally, each faculty should have at least one or more staff members who are an internal point of contact for colleagues in this area. We also want to share experiences: do you face problems or do you have ideas on accommodations that would make your work more comfortable and convenient? The meeting and platform are definitely also of interest to staff members who aren’t the target audience, such as managers who need advice.’
What would you say to colleagues who may feel hesitant about attending the meeting?
‘I understand that it might feel a bit daunting for some. But you don’t have to talk if you don’t want to and registration is anonymous. If you want, you can choose just to listen, and you can always mail me if you can’t attend or prefer not to be visible to the other participants for the time being. You’re always welcome to share your story.’
Register for the online meeting (Leiden University staff only)
Date: 15 November