Autism Awareness Day 2023
As a business, at Laurence Simons we value diversity and inclusion in all its forms, and welcome neurodiverse talent. We are committed to ensuring every employee can bring their authentic self to work and can fully develop their potential. With Autism Awareness Day yesterday, we took the opportunity to reflect on how neurodiverse talent has benefited our business.
When Ben Simmons joined last year, he allowed us to share that he had recently been diagnosed with autism. For those who do not already know, autism is a lifelong condition that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others around them. Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people and, as a spectrum condition, autism presents differently in different people. While those with autism will share certain difficulties, they also bring unique abilities and perspectives to the workplace.
Ben initially joined us on a 12-month contract as Talent Acquisition and Delivery Associate. However, we soon realised that there were aspects to this role that were not an entirely great fit for Ben’s neurodivergence and talents. We, therefore, created a new role in which Ben is able to support all aspects of the business at his own pace, including ensuring we make the best use of our CRM, supporting search teams, supporting our internal hiring efforts and supporting on the key projects that are central to our success as we grow and scale. Ben has been so successful in the role that we confirmed him as a permanent employee in January this year.
Ben shares more about his experience, and getting to know himself post-diagnosis as well as how we can all better educate ourselves:
“Following my Neurodivergent diagnosis, I was very aware that my way of working is different from others. Laurence Simons were brilliant at recognising this and creating a custom approach for me. They saw my potential but realised my neurodivergence can create challenges in approaches to work, so helped me build a position within the company that plays to my strengths and reduces the areas I find challenging.
I now follow many people on Linkedin that champion change in the workplace, and society in general, to support those of us who are neurodivergent. Their regular posts are so insightful and offer such lightbulb moments for things I might have struggled with in previous work places and other areas of life that I always put down to “I’m just different”. I would encourage anyone who is interested in diversity and inclusion, or who may be neurodivergent themselves to add these sources to their social media feeds because it offers such a great way to increase your awareness, as well as giving your tools to help not just yourself but also friends, family and colleagues or even strangers.
Leanne Maskell https://www.linkedin.com/in/leannemaskell/ is a great example, not only are her posts humorous and relatable to someone in the workplace but she also offers insight into the wider problems, political campaigns, and very real workable processes that you can implement in your workplace with free sources.
Being more educated on neurodiversity can make a huge difference if you experience people acting out of character. Understanding what someone else might be going through can help in knowing how to handle and help the situation. A better understanding of how diverse brains work can be so useful in realising that you may need to rephrase or reposition yourself when trying to get a message across, including in your business relationships.”
All of us benefit from Ben’s unique perspectives in the workplace. According to our CEO, Clare Beresford: “Ben’s superpower is how his brain works things out differently, and that difference is what will make the difference to us as we leverage Ben’s talents for projects such as embedding our CRM usage across the business”. He is recognised as a great asset by all of us at Laurence Simons and we are delighted that he continues to go from strength to strength in his career with us.
Autism Awareness Day is a unique opportunity for us to reflect on how we can do more to recognise and support autistic colleagues, or others in our lives, and perhaps to reflect on who might be struggling and as yet undiagnosed.
All workplaces should consider that with the right adjustments in place, having an autistic colleague who is thriving is an opportunity to enrich your workforce, your perspectives and, ultimately, your success.
If you have any questions in relation to how this condition impacts Ben, he is happy for you to reach out to him directly. If you’d like to find out more about autism in general, please see https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/what-is-autism
See our CPO, Jen Devlin’s full profile here.