HUNDREDS of Scottish legal and finance workers have been trained in how to support neurodiverse people in the workplace through a government-funded project.
Edinburgh-based charity Salvesen Mindroom Centre has helped coach more than 500 staff members at leading firms through its pioneering Neuroinclusion at Work programme.
The scheme is among 13 projects that successfully applied to the Scottish Government’s Workplace Equality Fund, driving forward action to make Scotland a Fair Work Nation.
The fund is being administered by Advice Direct Scotland, with recipients receiving grants to address long-standing barriers in the labour market.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon first launched the fund in 2018 and it is designed to ensure that everyone – irrespective of disability, gender, age or race – can fulfil their potential and improve Scotland’s economic performance as a result.
Salvesen Mindroom Centre supports children, young people and families with neurodevelopmental conditions, such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia, as well as training organisations to create more inclusive environments.
Its Neuroinclusion at Work programme is the first of its kind in Scotland and involves major companies across a range of sectors, with each pledging £5,000.
Five businesses, including law firm Burness Paull and global investment manager Martin Currie, have now become formal partners and another 11 organisations are in discussions.
The programme involves a suite of workplace training, best practice roundtables and the development of resources to support more inclusive workplaces.
One of the courses has already been awarded Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accreditation, helping embed best practices.
The Scottish Government’s Fair Work Framework sets out what fair work means in Scotland, offering all individuals an effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment, and respect.
It is being used to fund projects that are focused on one or more priority groups such as women, minority ethnic workers, disabled workers and workers aged over 50.
Other priority groups include people who experience gender-based violence, workers who are experiencing social isolation and/or loneliness, and workers experiencing symptoms of the menopause.
Last year, Advice Direct Scotland encouraged charities, third sector organisations, public sector organisations and private sector businesses to apply through its equalityadvice.scot service.
A total of 55 applications were received, with 13 schemes selected to receive funding including Salvesen Mindroom Centre.
Alan Thornburrow, chief executive at Salvesen Mindroom Centre, said:
“Diversity of thought needs to become much more central to business strategy – in the same way, that issues like gender equality and mental health have become integrated over the last decade. Embracing neurodiversity is key to that.
“It takes all kinds of minds to solve the biggest problems of our times and by working together, we can help employers build a person-centred approach in which all forms of neurodiversity are embraced and no mind is left behind.”
Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said:
“We are proud to have worked with the Scottish Government to deliver this important fund. “This initiative acts as a source of financial support for Scottish businesses and organisations that are striving to improve equality-related outcomes for priority groups in the workplace. “As an inclusive and progressive organisation with a diverse workforce, Advice Direct Scotland understands how valuable this is.
“The 13 successful projects are transforming lives by increasing diversity and inclusion in a variety of different sectors, all around Scotland.
“The Workplace Equality Fund is supporting employers to address and resolving long-standing barriers facing under-represented groups within the labour market and helping to promote and embed principles of inclusivity and fairness within Scotland’s workplaces.”
Employment and Fair Work Minister Richard Lochhead said:
“It’s great to see the excellent progress being made by these wide-ranging, inspiring, innovative and diverse projects from across Scotland to support employers address the barriers facing those marginalised in the labour market.
“Our ambitious plans for Scotland’s economy are built on ensuring that everyone can thrive in a diverse and inclusive workplace. Inclusive growth within the workforce is a key element of meeting our ambition to be a Fair Work Nation by 2025.
“Since 2018, the Workplace Equality Fund has provided over £1.8 million worth of funding to 58 projects and the current multi-year fund aims to ensure the sustainable and lasting impact of the valuable work that is being delivered.”