I got involved with a small group from the British Dyslexia Association in creating a guide for creating a dyslexia network in the workplace. Back in June, I attended the BDA event titled Positive Dyslexia and Employment and they asked for volunteers so I got stuck in.
BDA has now published a Dyslexia Networking Toolkit. This toolkit has been developed to help those who want to set up a dyslexia (and related conditions) network within their workplace. There is also a powerpoint presentation to help make the case for a dyslexia focused employee group.
The toolkit offers practical advice on how to set up a dyslexia network. It also covers the topics of dyslexia champions and helpers (allies – more on this in another blog post). In my place of work, there has been a dyslexia support group for over a decade. For the last few years I have chaired the group. This support group has been instrumental in making it a better place for different thinkers to work. With the recent addition of a senior dyslexia champion and the launch of an allies network, the group is going from strength to strength.
Why have a dyslexia network?
Many dyslexia networks start as a safe place for people to meet and share experiences (and frustrations) and hints for navigating the corporate system when you are cognitively different. Due to the different spikey profiles in a group of dyslexics, it’s often the case that there is someone in the network that knows how to do something you are struggling with.
Some networks go on to be a body of knowledge on corporate resources to support neurodiverse staff. This can be simple things like the steps for requesting a workplace adjustment. It can also be more involved things like advising on user experience for in-house developed software.
Other networks become a driving force for change within the organization. This often has benefits for the wider organization and well as neurodiverse staff.
The network I am proud to lead has driven the introduction of innovative new technology. It has hosted high profile external speakers to raise awareness of the business value of harnessing diversity. It has been consulted on software implementations. It has advised on policy and performance management approaches. It has informed recruitment practices and been involved with new entrant inductions. It has also been a rock for members when they needed help. That might not sound as grand as some of the other achievements but an organization only performs well when its people can perform well.
How do I set up a network at work
Simples. Just follow the best practice from the BDA Dyslexia Networking Toolkit. The toolkit distils the wisdom of the volunteers that compiled it. If you need more help reach out to a dyslexia network leader from another organisation to drop me a note.
You may also want to recruit a network of neuro-typicals to support you. See my blog on building disability confidence with purple allies for guidance on how to do this.