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Insights Neurodiversity celebration week: embracing inclusive workplaces.

My name is Nolan, and I'm a Junior Grants Manager at AtkinsRéalis in Orlando, Florida. My role is to support our grants specialists. I compile documents for grant funding reimbursements, review and record project-related requests, and control our documentation's accuracy and quality. I'm also a professional artist and writer, and I identify as neurodivergent. So, I try to bring attention to detail and flair to my role while adding a unique perspective.

Photo of Nolan smiling towards the camera

I like adding innovation to precision.

I'm a very detail-oriented person. This quality helped me recently when I had to go through a large document listing city government employees and their hours. I had to highlight each entry on the document that matched the entries on a spreadsheet in our database and then bookmark those entries in the document. I developed a very simple alternating system to make it easier to go back and find individual entries once I had highlighted them. My supervisor seemed impressed that I had taken a unique approach to getting the work done efficiently.

In our work culture, we want to see each other succeed.

I started working at AtkinsRéalis in 2022, and the organization has been very supportive and accommodating to my needs. For me, noisy environments are a big issue when trying to work. AtkinsRéalis has a flexible seating system that allows me to find a quiet place to sit and get my work done efficiently. I also work better with text or visual information than spoken words, and my supervisors have been very accommodating of this trait. When I'm on team calls, I sometimes need to ask the speaker to repeat parts of what they said to ensure I understand. My colleagues have had no problem with this. My primary supervisor often emails me after we talk to recap the information. This works very well for me, although I still try to be an attentive listener while we speak.

Employee Resource Groups (ERG) are accessible and supportive.

AtkinsRéalis makes great use of Viva Engage, a social networking service included with Microsoft 365. The organization has many different communities in Viva Engage where employees can meet like-minded people. Notably, one of these is the Neurodiversity ERG, where employees can ask questions, share events, and start other neurodiversity-related conversations. It's so helpful, and I'd like to see our Neurodiversity ERG post regular work tips for neurodivergent employees. These could include staying focused, dealing with stress, and coping with a challenging work environment.

How you can make neurodiverse colleagues feel more welcome

A neuro-inclusive group event would provide alternatives for neurodiverse employees. For example, a group dinner in a large, crowded room might be stressful for some. The biggest struggle is when everyone in the room is talking at once. Of course, they have the right to hold their own conversations. But, the noise makes it very difficult for me to hear what the people at my table are saying, making it hard for me to feel included.

In this group dinner example, I recommend setting aside a smaller room/table away from the crowd to reduce noise. Most importantly, one of the event organizers should sit at that table to facilitate discussion and help the people at that table feel included.

Discover more about Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion with AtkinsRéalis.