Earlier this summer, a tweet from Andrew Eddy of Untapped in Australia caught my eye. I reached out to learn more about his organization and their initiatives, including their work with the Neurodiversity Hub (NDH), a global initiative with goals and resources to support students, educators, and employers around diversity, inclusion, and meaningful employment for autistic people. Untapped itself is focused on working with companies that are looking to develop and implement neurodiverse employment programs and meaningfully integrate more neurodivergent people into the workforce.
The Neurodiversity Hub is a community of practice bringing together employers, universities, and organizations to make this a reality. One of its activities is compiling a compendium of resources created and supported by universities and other organizations to provide support to students, their families and carers, universities, and employers. There’s a lot of terrific information at the NDH, including some excellent downloadable resources.
Below is a “notes from the field” from Andrew about what’s happening on the ground in Australia around workforce neurodiversity, including info about their 3rd Australian autism@work summit hosted in July 2019.
UNTAPPED – ACTIVITIES SO FAR IN 2019…
NDH Phase 2 Project
The Neurodiversity Hub (NDH) is an initiative, through a community of practice, to create a co-curricular program to assist neurodivergent students in becoming more work-ready and increasing their chances of obtaining a job. It is also an opportunity for employers to partner with the Hub to better understand and interact with neurodivergent job-seekers, developing approaches to creating accommodating workspaces and accessing everyone’s talents within their businesses.
The NDH community itself is diverse, from research and educational institutions such as Autistica at University College London, Cornell University’s Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, La Trobe University’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, University of South Australia, and Curtin University in Australia, to advocacy organizations such as Diversity and Ability (DNA), to industry-leading companies in autism@work initiatives such as DXC Dandelion and SAP. Click here to see the complete community of practice.
During 2018, two interns from Cornell University developed a model program of activities via a co-design process involving 75 individual contacts (students, advocates, professionals, academics) at 21 organisations (employers, peak bodies, service providers, universities). NDH partners then further tested the program with a number of university partners in the Hub. We also identified good practice examples of elements within the model program, which already existed at various universities, as well as agreed on the priority areas for the development of additional model program materials.
The NDH Phase 2 project was about bringing together these good practice examples of the model program and making them available via the NDH website – as on-line resources for use by students, universities, and employers.
In the period from end-January to start of May 2019, two additional Cornell interns, as well as an intern from Monash University, worked to significantly advance the compilation and dissemination of the identified good practice examples.
The universities involved in the project included:
- in Australia: Curtin University, University of South Australia, Swinburne University, and Macquarie University
- in the USA: Landmark College in Vermont, Rochester Institute of Technology in New York state, and CUNY in New York City.
Integrate Advisors in the USA also provided valuable advice and guidance. Plus, a number of employer organisations that are already members of the Hub or that are considering membership also contributed to the initiative.
As the result of our project, NDH partners created various materials to assist students, their families, employers, and universities, including the following:
Transition to university materials – for students, their families, and university staff
Peer coaching implementation guide – for a program for first year neurodivergent students
Disclosure at university’ thought piece
MoneyBasics – on-line financial literacy course for students
Employer expo guide for students, employers, and universities
Grounding exercise booklet
Resume and interview guides
The NDH website has been re-launched with the above materials.
‘Be Your Best’ Program
Work has also commenced on the development of life skills and work-ready skills materials for the Hub. This is being led by Untapped’s Executive Editor and involves a number of neurodivergent writers in Australia and North America.
The initial subjects we’re developing include “Be Organised,” “Eat Well,” “Mindfulness,” “My Career,” “Presenting Me,” “Money Matters,” and “Study Success.”
Australasian Talent Conference – Sydney, Australia – June 2019
In June, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion at the Australasian Talent Conference, focusing on how current hiring practices exclude a whole cohort from the talent acquisition process. Explore some highlights from this panel session here.
Third Australian Autism@Work Summit
The Third A@W Summit was held in Melbourne, Australia, on 25 July 2019.
We were very fortunate to have two fabulous key notes for the conference:
- John Marble, Pivot Neurodiversity
- Assistant Professor Lawrence Fung, Stanford University
We also gained insight into the job process from a panel of employers with neurodiverse employment programs and an employee panel of autistic young adults in the work force. Breakout sessions included:
Mental health in the workforce
Transitioning into the workforce: the recruitment process for neurodivergent job seekers
Neurodiversity Hub: transitioning from school to university and preparing for the world of work
Transitioning to the working environment: “neurodiverse placemaking”
The summit was very well attended, with over 200 registrants for the conference from over 60 organisations. There was also a separate Executive Breakfast event with nearly 50 attendees from a range of companies / industries.
We have also now launched a new website to house materials from autism@work summits from around the world – including the recent summit in Australia. Check it out at https://www.autismatwork.org
New Members of the Neurodiversity Hub
We are in discussion with a number of universities and employers about joining the NDH. If you have interest in finding out more about this community of practice, please be in contact.
We are continuing to talk to a number of employers about the opportunity of establishing an autism@work program. We have also continued to work with our partners that assist in the support of implementing such programs – including Uptimize, Life Sherpa, and Pymetrics.
That’s what has been happening with NDH initiatives. There’s a lot going on, and we’re excited for the future of autistic job seekers. We’d love for you to join us, and let us know what your organization, company, or community is working on in the comments.
B Comm FCA FCPA FAICD
For the last decade, Andrew has worked as a consultant with PPB Advisory, a leading independent strategic and advisory practice. Subsequent to their merger with PwC, Andrew now offers his services directly to clients. He focuses on the areas of strategy, risk, governance and business turnarounds. Previous executive roles include the first CFO of Aconex Limited and Group GM Finance at Amcor Limited, with responsibility for global funding & treasury, risk and insurance. Prior to that he was Corporate Treasurer for Orica Limited.
He is a co-founder of Untapped Group, an enterprise focused on developing a sustainable neurodiverse employment ecosystem to increase opportunities for autistic individuals, and those with other neurodiverse variations. Untapped Group works closely with DXC’s Dandelion program and other organisations, providing a range of services and world-leading tools to their programs and their ongoing development and implementation. Untapped is also driving the Neurodiversity Hub initiative which is about facilitating neurodivergent university and college students becoming more work-ready and increasing their chances of securing a job and a career. It is also an opportunity for employers to partner with the Hub and better understand and access this cohort’s talent.
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