By David Gillespie, Service Improvement Manager, Bravura

Earlier this year, I was named the lead for our neurodiversity pillar, which is one of six pillars that forms Bravura’s award-winning Diversity & Inclusiveness (D&I) programme.

As someone who is an advocate of encouraging positive mental wellbeing, it was a very proud moment for me and I’m very much looking forward to supporting my colleagues across the globe by helping to make Bravura a more welcoming and supportive place to all.

This holds a particular importance to me as, at times, I’ve struggled with my own mental wellbeing and some of the symptoms that I’ve shown are occasionally similar to certain neurodivergence variations. This can often lead to incorrect diagnoses, meaning people may not receive the appropriate care or support.

Understanding neurodivergence

One of the most common questions I’ve been asked since becoming involved in Bravura’s neurodiversity pillar is – what does it mean if a person is neurodivergent?

Well, to put it simply, neurodiversity refers to the different ways a person’s brain processes information. To use the definition found on the NHS website: “It is an umbrella term used to describe a number of these variations, with an estimated one in seven individuals having some form of neuro difference”.

That represents more than 9 million people in the UK alone classified as being neurodivergent, with some of the most common variations being dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism. Each variation brings is own challenges so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that can be used.

Changing perceptions of neurodivergence

A big part of what we’re looking to do as part of our D&I programme is to dispel common misconceptions and encourage open conversations about people’s challenges to create a better workplace for everyone.

People who are neurodiverse often think about and see the world differently. This makes them a huge asset to any team that wants to improve how they do things and deliver excellent work by approaching problems from a different perspective.

Being neurodiverse does not correlate with low intelligence; many people with neuro differences are highly intelligent. Take dyslexia for example, which is a learning disability and is often characterised by problems with writing, reading and spelling. Although dyslexia should theoretically act as an impediment to success at work, in reality there is a strong correlation between dyslexia and success. Famous people with dyslexia include Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, Steve Jobs and Lewis Hamilton, who have all at times opened up about the challenges and opportunities of being dyslexic.

Making Bravura a more welcoming and supportive employer

We’re also committed to taking practical action and instigating change to help everyone bring their best self to work. This is paramount to helping people feel supported, happy and engaged.

As part of this, Bravura’s D&I pillars are working closely with our People & Culture teams to refresh our recruitment process to strip out any potential bias in the way we screen and interview candidates.

Recruitment has to be fair. As a global business, we should provide an environment that helps bring the best out of everyone, not just individuals who may excel in face-to-face interviews or are better at dealing with questions on the spot, for example. This won’t only help support those with neurodivergence variations, but will be a support across all of our six pillars.

Another area we’re considering is the onboarding experience for new employees. Joining a new company can be a stressful time for anyone, therefore we must better recognise that as an employer, by ensuring we have excellent support available to our colleagues from day one.

One of the key areas we’re working through currently is creating a centralise directory to list all the support tools Bravura has access to globally via our software provider Microsoft. There’s a tremendous range of fantastic support tools to make the everyday workplace more accessible. By creating an accessible and centralised list for our teams, who are split across six countries, these practical tools will be easy to find so that our colleagues can obtain the help they require. We also aim to train people managers to further extend our support globally.

Growing our network in 2024

There’s no escaping the fact that 2024 will be a challenging year due to the wider economic uncertainty and as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite. Our D&I team, however, is determined to grow Bravura’s network and get more people engaged with what we’re aiming to achieve.

Our neurodiversity pillar is currently made up of a small and hugely committed group of individuals from across Bravura’s global teams and we aim to make a positive impact in the initiatives we undertake. Sharing experiences living with neurodivergence and creating a space where people feel free to share is one area we intend to prioritise in 2024.

We know that this is one of the best ways to get people thinking more inclusively and encourage them to share their experiences. For example, one of our colleagues, Paul Bungay, recently visited one of Bravura’s offices in India and delivered a talk about ADHD. It received great feedback and helped encourage more open dialogues with colleagues.

Our D&I team is passionate about making Bravura a great place to work but we can’t do it alone. We are looking to grow our team across all our D&I pillars. I’d encourage any colleagues who are interested in joining the neurodivergence pillar to contact me to discuss how we can collaborate and make a real difference at work together.

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