In 2021 Kingfisher upweighted I&D to a strategic priority and is committed to making sure everyone feels included. To support this strategy, Kingfisher launched three employee-led affinity networks. These networks are made up of voluntary groups of colleagues with lived experience of being in a marginalised group, or those wanting to demonstrate active allyship, providing a safe space to discuss experience, share information and learn. With Kingfisher’s focus on gender, race & culture, and LGBTQ+, they are proud to say these groups have been growing from strength to strength over the last two years. A tech specific I&D working group has also been launched in the hope to accelerate the adoption and embedding of I&D within Tech.
In September 2022, through the collection of diversity data, Kingfisher demonstrated the need for specific support in relation to neurodiversity, and more specifically our neurodiverse colleagues. The data also highlighted that a significant proportion of our workforce are neurodiverse themselves. Neurodiversity/neurodivergence is a term used to describe the variation in human cognition and more specifically those that differ from the societal or medical ‘norm’. Common examples of this are Autism, ADHD and Dyslexia. With 15-20% of the population and as many as 1 in 7 people in the UK being neurodiverse, it is imperative that companies like Kingfisher make the efforts to understand how they can support their neurodiverse colleagues.
It is critical to support individuals in feeling a sense of belonging within the workplace, and their new network ensures that they are intentional in their inclusion approach for neurodiverse individuals. Kingfisher have stated “Enabling neurodiverse individuals to thrive and feel valued at work is of top priority to us. The skills often associated with neurodivergence (high-empathy, hyper-focus, problem solving, seeing the bigger picture, innovative and different thinking) are in high demand within the current skills shortage, so now more than ever it’s imperative that we make every effort to enable neurodiverse individuals to feel confident utilising their skills and remove barriers preventing colleagues from thriving”.
In the effort to become more Neuro inclusive with their processes, Kingfisher turned to their new network for expertise. Aside from supporting Kingfisher, these networks are designed to provide safe and supportive environments for our colleagues to share their experiences, raise awareness around neurodiversity generally, and more specifically supporting line managers to have a better understanding.
There are many ways that companies can ensure neurodiverse colleagues feel safe, confident, and understood at work. One of the simplest yet arguably most important is communication: being clear, concise, and taking on-board individual differences in the way they like to receive things, such as instruction or feedback can help to ease any confusion, anxiety, or misunderstanding. Building line manager awareness and recognising that everyone’s needs are different – this isn’t a one size fits all approach and it’s important that is understood. Aside from this, providing quiet areas, allowing fidget items, and understanding the need for flexibility can help neurodiverse colleagues thrive in your workplace.
You can find out more about how to increase diversity in your company here.