Lopen op eierschalen: waarom bazen bang zijn om over neurodiversiteit te praten

Lopen op eierschalen: waarom bazen bang zijn om over neurodiversiteit te praten

november 1, 2019 0 Door admin

Translating…


CBD Olie kan helpen bij ADHD. Lees hoe op MHBioShop.com


Huile de CBD peut aider avec TDAH. Visite HuileCBD.be


 

American multinational technology company, Microsoft logo...

Bosses from the boardrooms of FTSE-listed companies to the smallest employer all are afraid of the same thing. They desperately want to be more inclusive but they don’t know which words are safe to use.  Just this week the Wall St Journal used the phrase ‘people with autism’ on the top line of their article about Microsoft’s autism recruitment program, which may have caused offence to some in spite of being a positive article. I get it – I’ve said the wrong thing before and the backlash can seem overwhelming, even hurtful. Equally, people have said the wrong thing to me before and I have felt personally insulted!

I gave a talk to the senior leadership team of a large, prestigious University last week who devoted four whole days to aligning their strategic vision on diversity and inclusion.  Yet even with comparatively high awareness of neurodiversity, their questions at the end of my talk were around the ‘right’ labels for neurodiversity. They are apprehensive of the reaction they will get if they make a mistake, which is an obstacle to positive, collaborative conversations. 

The reality is that language around all diversity and inclusion evolves regularly and so it’s likely that we will fall behind sometimes. In neurodiversity, there are overlapping words that are interpreted differently by stakeholders and it’s not easy to tell which will be the right pick. 

Getting Personal

One clear example of how easy it is to get our words wrong is the debate surrounding ‘people first’ language. This could be saying ‘people with disabilities’ versus ‘disabled people’. It might seem like there’s no difference but this can actually be a very emotive issue. People first language started with good intentions – the idea being that we should put the emphasis on the fact that we are people, not conditions and a lot of adults still support this approach. Others feel that ‘disabled people’ is more accurate as it defines the action of disablement by a society that is not inclusive; a social, rather than medical, model of disability. 

Another issue is that many  people feel that their neurodifference is a key part of their identity and so dislike the people first approach as it diminishes the importance of their condition e.g. it is not something they have or something that was done, it is who they are. As an identity, which forms a tribal connection to their ‘diagnosis’, the wrong terminology can feel like a personal insult. In this vein, there is a lot of current controversy over terms like ‘high / low functioning’, which benchmark against societal norms rather than personal experience. Further, research suggests that so-called ‘high functioning’ people may in fact be better at masking their traits, not less autistic.

Is There A ‘Right’ Answer?

So if even the Wall St Journal is walking on eggshells, what hope do the rest of us have? Within the world of neurodiversity, the terms I used in my last blog have already generated some mixed feedback. Some feel I should be clear that my preferences are my preferences and, as a woman with ADHD I do have the right to choose the language I am most comfortable with. But I also must acknowledge that I do not have the right to tell others how they should self-identify. So I’ve started a survey to gauge if there’s any consensus emerging. The comments so far demonstrate a high degree of personalisation. More to follow on this!

Overcoming The Fear

So where does this lack of consensus leave us in human resources, management and inclusion? How do we navigate the tricky world of terminology and make sure that our diverse teams feel comfortable and safe at work? My advice is this:

·       Listen to your employees, take feedback and change things that people find offensive.

·       Where you encounter competing preferences, in written communication for example, use multiple terms interchangeably and pop an explanation in a footnote so that people can see that you have thought about your choices in advance and that you care.

·       The most important thing is being open, respectful of difference, and genuine about communicating with people as equals.

If you get it wrong and get a bad reaction, please remember that this possibly has more to do with the discrimination and personal trials that the individual has previously experienced than it does with you. They will recover from your slip, you will recover, you can go back with an apology or genuine enquiry and you may find that the rapport is enhanced, not broken forever. Owning it, and opening up discussion around what terms people are most comfortable with can help overcome a whole lot of unnecessary anxiety.

The main point is that when Microsoft’s program has become the norm, and people featured in Wall St Journal articles are simply referred to as ‘data scientists with advanced degrees’ or ‘diverse team of highly skills marketeers’ instead of people with ADHD, autists or dyspraxics, that’s when we’ll know we’ve succeeded on inclusion.

Language and terminology are easier to update than prejudice!  

“>

American multinational technology company, Microsoft logo...

GUANGZHOU, GUANGDONG, CHINA – 2019/10/03: American multinational technology company, Microsoft logo … [ ] seen in Guangzhou. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Bosses from the boardrooms of FTSE-listed companies to the smallest employer all are afraid of the same thing. They desperately want to be more inclusive but they don’t know which words are safe to use.  Just this week the Wall St Journal used the phrase ‘people with autism’ on the top line of their article about Microsoft’s autism recruitment program, which may have caused offence to some in spite of being a positive article. I get it – I’ve said the wrong thing before and the backlash can seem overwhelming, even hurtful. Equally, people have said the wrong thing to me before and I have felt personally insulted!

I gave a talk to the senior leadership team of a large, prestigious University last week who devoted four whole days to aligning their strategic vision on diversity and inclusion.  Yet even with comparatively high awareness of neurodiversity, their questions at the end of my talk were around the ‘right’ labels for neurodiversity. They are apprehensive of the reaction they will get if they make a mistake, which is an obstacle to positive, collaborative conversations. 

The reality is that language around all diversity and inclusion evolves regularly and so it’s likely that we will fall behind sometimes. In neurodiversity, there are overlapping words that are interpreted differently by stakeholders and it’s not easy to tell which will be the right pick. 

Getting Personal

One clear example of how easy it is to get our words wrong is the debate surrounding ‘people first’ language. This could be saying ‘people with disabilities’ versus ‘disabled people’. It might seem like there’s no difference but this can actually be a very emotive issue. People first language started with good intentions – the idea being that we should put the emphasis on the fact that we are people, not conditions and a lot of adults still support this approach. Others feel that ‘disabled people’ is more accurate as it defines the action of disablement by a society that is not inclusive; a social, rather than medical, model of disability. 

Another issue is that many  people feel that their neurodifference is a key part of their identity and so dislike the people first approach as it diminishes the importance of their condition e.g. it is not something they have or something that was done, it is who they are. As an identity, which forms a tribal connection to their ‘diagnosis’, the wrong terminology can feel like a personal insult. In this vein, there is a lot of current controversy over terms like ‘high / low functioning’, which benchmark against societal norms rather than personal experience. Further, research suggests that so-called ‘high functioning’ people may in fact be better at masking their traits, not less autistic.

Is There A ‘Right’ Answer?

So if even the Wall St Journal is walking on eggshells, what hope do the rest of us have? Within the world of neurodiversity, the terms I used in my last blog have already generated some mixed feedback. Some feel I should be clear that my preferences are my preferences and, as a woman with ADHD I do have the right to choose the language I am most comfortable with. But I also must acknowledge that I do not have the right to tell others how they should self-identify. So I’ve started a survey to gauge if there’s any consensus emerging. The comments so far demonstrate a high degree of personalisation. More to follow on this!

Overcoming The Fear

So where does this lack of consensus leave us in human resources, management and inclusion? How do we navigate the tricky world of terminology and make sure that our diverse teams feel comfortable and safe at work? My advice is this:

·       Listen to your employees, take feedback and change things that people find offensive.

·       Where you encounter competing preferences, in written communication for example, use multiple terms interchangeably and pop an explanation in a footnote so that people can see that you have thought about your choices in advance and that you care.

·       The most important thing is being open, respectful of difference, and genuine about communicating with people as equals.

If you get it wrong and get a bad reaction, please remember that this possibly has more to do with the discrimination and personal trials that the individual has previously experienced than it does with you. They will recover from your slip, you will recover, you can go back with an apology or genuine enquiry and you may find that the rapport is enhanced, not broken forever. Owning it, and opening up discussion around what terms people are most comfortable with can help overcome a whole lot of unnecessary anxiety.

The main point is that when Microsoft’s program has become the norm, and people featured in Wall St Journal articles are simply referred to as ‘data scientists with advanced degrees’ or ‘diverse team of highly skills marketeers’ instead of people with ADHD, autists or dyspraxics, that’s when we’ll know we’ve succeeded on inclusion.

Language and terminology are easier to update than prejudice!  


CBD Olie kan helpen bij ADHD. Lees hoe op MHBioShop.com


Huile de CBD peut aider avec TDAH. Visite HuileCBD.be


 
Lees meer