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Birkbeck opens the UK’s first centre researching neurodiversity at work

The Centre for Neurodiversity at Work will undertake cutting-edge research to enhance and support ethical, impactful organisational practice.

Birkbeck’s Department of Organizational Psychology, in partnership with Genius Within CIC, an award-winning social enterprise supporting neurominorities in their careers, has opened the Centre for Neurodiversity at Work

Evidence-based guidance that is easily understood and jargon-free will be developed to inform organisational practice worldwide, by a research and practitioner team who are neurodiverse themselves and intersectionally representative of the communities they serve. The ultimate aim is to ensure genuinely inclusive work environments where diverse talents and skill sets are embraced. The Centre’s activities will ensure that neurodiverse individuals receive the diagnosis, coaching and support that they need to thrive in the workplace. The Centre is also looking to support employers to pre-empt any systemic barriers in human resource activities including job design, well-being and performance optimisation. 

Professor Almuth McDowall, Co-Director of the Centre and Head of the Department of Organizational Psychology, commented: “Neurodiversity at work is currently poorly understood as there is insufficient research on adults. Currently, disabled people are more likely to be un- and under-employed despite protective legislation. We believe that good organisational practice fosters diversity throughout the employment lifecycle and embraces difference. We aspire to bring about change by developing interventions that work, which management feel confident to deliver and which enhance the prosperity and career opportunities of neurominorities.”

Dr Nancy Doyle, Co-Director of the Centre, Birkbeck Visiting Research Fellow, and CEO of Genius Within CIC, added: “At present, there is no body of research exploring neurodiversity in occupational contexts, despite an escalating popularity of the theme for employers. Managers are struggling to balance the complexity of talent opportunities with legal obligations. Current best practice guidance remains anecdotal, management research is needed to provide well-grounded advice and critical appraisal from multiple perspectives. One of our first major projects will be interviewing people about their experiences of Autism at Work programmes. The research findings will be used to develop a best practice report with guidance for employers on Autism at Work programmes and how to mitigate unintended racial and gender discrimination whilst maximising engagement.” 

Research at the Centre will focus on a broad range of neurodevelopmental differences, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dyspraxia and similar, overlapping conditions such as Tourette Syndrome. 

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