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Navigating office life can sometimes be as tricky as the job itself, and it can be even harder if your brain is wired to work differently from most people's. Neurodiversity, which recognises neurocognitive differences such as dyslexia, Tourette syndrome and autism as part of normal variation among the human population, is increasingly getting attention but there are still huge strides to be made when it comes to the workplace.
For many women, their traits may not conform to most people’s idea of what neurodiversity looks like. Dyslexia, autism, Tourette’s, epilepsy, ADHD and OCD, for instance, all suffer to some degree from a lack of understanding. And the ways in which ADHD and autism manifest in women are particularly poorly understood.
My ADHD diagnosis came a few years ago but it’s still something I wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable disclosing in a place of work, mainly because there are so many misconceptions about how it manifests. Being freelance means I can sidestep this issue as I’m not usually in an office; I do a mix of remote client work, freelance writing and ceramics. I have agency over my time and my work; I’m only accountable for my output, not how I get it done. It also means I don’t have to deal with people’s preconceptions about ADHD.
In January, Universal Music published Creative Differences, a handbook for embracing neurodiversity in the creative industries. Looking at areas such as recruitment, mentorship and career progression, it offers companies practical solutions to increase accessibility.
David Joseph, chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK, said: "There has been little exploration around the importance of neurodiversity. Making your organisation ND-friendly is to the benefit of your entire workforce. Everyone should feel comfortable in bringing their whole selves to work."
Ahead, four women talk to us about their experiences and how they make it work, at work.