CATRO has the wonderful opportunity to be a partner in another new project of key importance - Neurodiveristy at Work (N@W). The project aims to find a new approach to neurodiversity issues, treating it as a rapidly evolving sub-category of organizational diversity and integration, seeking to embrace and maximize the talents of people who think differently (with reference to dyslexia, autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, and other Specific Learning Differences – SLD) and as a completely new approach in European SMEs and micro-enterprises.
The lack of data, information and awareness about the presence and / or work of employees with challenges in SMEs, the lack of specific legislation on SLD in the field of employment, the perception of SLD as a disability and growing inequality in SMEs due to the COVID-19 pandemic show us that focusing on workplace diversity is a Europe-wide challenge.
At the heart of such an important matter is the paradigm shift.
The necessary cultural change aims to transition from the limited understanding that those are some specific needs and differences towards knowing and understanding them, being trained and able to approach the prospect of neuromodility, and so to reach a "paradigm shift". As such, it could contribute to the well-being of employees with specific challenges, but also make it understandable and clear that diversity, and in particular inclusive practices aimed at non-diversity, can bring real added value to business in terms of competitiveness.
The most important thing that practice shows is that when neurodiversity is explained and understood, when a positive attitude towards it is encouraged, then the necessary conditions are created for fundamental support of people with neurodiverse challenges. Understanding the core of this matters is essential, together with updating the existing data and statistics displaying and analyzing the extent to which:
• the business can provide fully favorable environment for employees facing certain challenges;
• the methods applied are efficient and up-to-date;
• the conditions are in place for employees to develop their talents in the long term;
• their unique talents are recognized and focused on business development.
In this context, the N@W project has set the following objectives:
• raising awareness and increasing knowledge among SMEs and micro companies’ entrepreneurs, HR managers, leaders, and relevant stakeholders, about neurodiversity as key asset in contemporary business;
• championing specific and regular data collection on neurodiversity at the workplace, especially in SMEs, following the inclusive approaches already in place in school education about SLD;
• equipping business leaders and staff with an appropriate set of competences, strategies and tools to introduce and practice neurodiversity at the workplace, with the aim to prevent discrimination, and to guarantee the wellbeing to the employees as well as benefits to the organizations.
The topic is very important to CATRO Bulgaria and it is with great excitement that we will work to discover good practices, working models and success stories, showing how both people facing challenges and businesses, can thrive together, grow and reach high levels in their professional career path and development.
The Neurodiversity at Work (N@W) project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.