Workplace diversity and inclusion involves establishing a sense of belonging for all. Let’s hear from three members of the VodABILITY Network, about the wonderful ways in which Vodafone celebrates neurodiversity in the workplace and the support pillars which have been put in place.
6th February 2023
How Vodafone Celebrates Neurodiversity in the Workplace
When neurodivergence is recognised and supported in the workplace, it means that organisations can attract and retain neurodiverse talent. In fact, a HBR article by Gary P Pisano reports that neurodiversity is a competitive advantage, with certain preliminary tests indicating that neurodiverse people are 30% more productive than others.
This may not be suitably leveraged by organisations, given that recently published data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicates that only 22% of autistic adults are in paid employment, there is an amazing wealth of untapped, highly productive talent, which we can access by creating an inclusive environment.
I joined Vodafone just under two years ago and I found an open and inclusive environment, which gave me the confidence to seek my autism diagnosis (which I had been considering for at least three years prior but had not felt safe enough to do). I was formally diagnosed recently, and I have an amazing network of other neurodivergent individuals who have helped me to process this diagnosis. Neurodiversity does not feel disabling at Vodafone: it feels empowering and welcomed.
Neurodivergence takes many forms and can provide each individual with skills and attributes that are significantly above someone with a different neurotype. Whilst neurodivergent people may process things in a different way to most people, it can provide a different perspective, one that helps foster increased productivity or creativity within a team. Our attributes are often overlooked by the hindrance society has placed on us, however in an environment where we are accepted, supported and provided with the psychological safety to bring our whole selves to work, we can thrive.
I’m proud to work for Vodafone because people across our organisation champion neurodivergence. We’ve trained over 2,400 colleagues on neurodiversity, we’ve run support groups and awareness campaigns throughout the year. We offer mentoring and initiatives such as the Reasonable Adjustments process and the ‘sunflower lanyard scheme’ to help those who need support to get it.
When we allow individuals to be themselves, we unlock their full potential. This benefits the individual, their manager and Vodafone. Our teams gain new skills which inspire creativity. Once such skills are unlocked, you’re accessing a talent base that sees an issue from many different angles, offering solutions not typically thought of.
I’ve been with Vodafone for five years, and I can confidently say I’ve stayed this long because I feel accepted and supported not just in my role but in my personal life. I had applied for 17 different roles at the lowest point in my life. Only one offered me an interview, but the people who saw potential in me are now reaping the rewards of my drive, creative thinking and my can-do attitude.
We have great support communities and allies at work to help people get the support they require. I’m especially proud of our IDPD VodABILITY awards which were presented by our ambassadors, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid (both Wimbledon wheelchair tennis champions), an event watched live by over 1,600 people.