On August 30, 2022 I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion for the quarterly Partners with a Purpose DEI Alliance meeting along with my fellow autistic Googlers Erin Coughlan and Jim Hogan. Partners with a Purpose is a collaborative effort of the DEI groups at Accenture, Deloitte, DoiT International, Google Cloud, Infosys, Palo Alto Networks, SADA, Softchoice, and TD SYNNEX. Google was the host for the meeting and the topic was neurodiversity in the workplace.
This was a wonderful opportunity to help the DEI pros at these great companies understand more about neurodiversity. The interest in the topic is very strong and it is great to see the movement transitioning from recruiting to being a recognition of diversity that has been hidden until recently.
After the normal meeting kickoff statements the 3 of us panelists did quick self introductions. I had volunteered for the role of defining neurodiversity. I started off by noting the concept was created by Judy Singer of Australia. I then explained neurodiversity through my Neuro Cloud™ concept and introduced them to the terms neurotypical (NT) and my much more approachable and flattering term neurodistinct. (ND). I explained that in the culture of neurodiversity being neurodistinct is simply perceiving, processing, or thinking in a distinctly different manner than the NTs.
Us panel member made it a point to educate the Partners with a Purpose members that the neurodistinct are all who think differently, not just autistics. We covered a lot of territory with Erin doing a great job relating the autistic female perspective and Jim presenting the frequent bullying us NDs frequently are the target of even in the workplace.
The 1-1/2 hours flew by. Great questions were asked including one of my favorites of how to handle challenges created by someone who hasn't disclosed or doesn't even know they are neurodistinct. I answered as I always do. Focus on the problematic behavior not what medical label may apply to the person. Who cares if they are NT or ND as it is the behavior not what they are that is the issue. The discussion and how to hand the issue will likely differ between groups and even individuals. But like in all things DEI it is not the group you belong to that is the problem but how you show up and conduct yourself that matters.
Many thanks to the Google Cloud DEI group for spearheading this meeting and discussion.