A conference on the benefits of employing a neurodiverse workforce to drive business growth and encourage team members to reach their own potential is to be held in Aberdeen in May.

The one-day event, entitled Neurodiversity in the Workplace - Unlocking Potential and Driving Business Success, will support the return of the ADHD Foundation Umbrella Project to Aberdeen.

Strings of coloured umbrellas will once again be seen across the city from the end of May until September, in celebration of the ‘umbrella’ term of neurodiversity, which includes ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia.

Both the Umbrella Project and the conference are being organised by city centre BID Aberdeen Inspired, which is marking Neurodiversity Celebration Week until March 19 by announcing the stellar line-up of speakers.

Sponsored by Harbour Energy and TMM Recruitment, the conference will be held at the Aberdeen Douglas Hotel from 8.30am to 2.30pm on Tuesday, May 30, adjacent to the main umbrella installation on Shiprow.

It is aimed at both private and public sector businesses, with separate sessions on neurodiversity being planned for teachers and parents on Monday, May 29.

Speakers and contributors will include Dr Tony Lloyd, Chief Executive of the ADHD Foundation, and Adrian Watson, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Inspired.

Mavis Anagboso, Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at principal sponsor Harbour Energy, will talk about the company’s experience of employing staff who are neurodiverse, while Charlotte Valeur, chair of the Institute of Neurodiversity, will share her story of being diagnosed with autism later in life.

Amanda McCulloch, Chief Executive of Aberdeen-based TMM Recruitment, which is also supporting the Umbrella Project as co-sponsor of the conference, will be reflecting on the hiring process and discussing inclusive recruiting practices with a panel of local and national experts.

Professor Amanda Kirby, Chief Executive of Do-It Solutions and chair of the ADHD Foundation Neurodiversity Charity, will discuss why neurodiversity is everybody’s business and her work to raise awareness and champion best practices in education and employment, consultancy, tools and training.

Angela Prentner-Smith is Founder and Managing Consultant at This is Milk, a consultancy, training, and technology business. She will address the conference on how maintaining a psychologically safe workplace is part of ensuring you are not just diverse, but fostering a place where everyone can flourish.

With 1 in 5 humans being neurodivergent, 1 in 67 of us on the autistic spectrum, 1 in 20 with ADHD or dyspraxia and 1 in 10 with dyslexia, many people have a combination of these differences in how humans process and interact with their environment and the people around them.

Roulè Wood, Business Engagement Manager at Aberdeen Inspired, said: “We’re very much looking forward to seeing the ADHD Foundation Umbrella Project returning to Aberdeen for a second time, brightening up our streets throughout the summer.

“However, alongside injecting some colour for people to enjoy, the aim of the umbrellas is to raise awareness of neurodiversity and to help anyone with questions about ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia to find information and support.

“The Neurodiversity in the Workplace conference is just one of many initiatives delivered by Aberdeen Inspired to support local business and aims to help both private and public sector businesses understand how they can best serve the 20% of staff and customers who are neurodiverse.”

“We are delighted to have such a high calibre line up of speakers, who have many years of experience and deep insight to share with delegates.”

The official Shiprow installation will join numerous private installations organised by businesses and other organisations.

Schools can also get involved in creating their own mini umbrella displays, highlighting neurodiversity in children and young people in educational settings.

The deadline for businesses and schools to sign up is April 21.

The Umbrella Project celebrates the intelligence, ability and talent of every human being- including every neurodiverse individual, empowering and enabling the next generation of children and young people.

Mavis Anagboso from principal sponsor Harbour Energy said: “Harbour Energy is delighted to partner with Aberdeen Inspired and the ADHD Foundation to organise this conference on Neurodiversity. I hope this will be a significant contribution to raising awareness of neurodiversity at the community and business level in Aberdeen.”

Dr Tony Lloyd, chief executive of the ADHD Foundation, said ‘I can’ is more important than ‘IQ’.

“It’s well documented that 1 in 5 of us are neurodiverse so we must stop thinking of those with dyslexia, autism, ADHD, dyspraxia as somehow ‘less than’ or defining them by what they cannot do,” he said.

“We’re pleased to be working with Aberdeen Inspired to run this conference, where delegates will hear that the major growth companies in the world who have actively recruited neurodiverse employees for over 20 years recognise the extraordinary creativity and ability of a neurodiverse workforce.

“We want everyone to see what global leading industries see – talent, potential, and creative genius,” Dr Lloyd added. “More than 13 million UK citizens are neurodiverse – it’s about time we ‘see them’ in the deserving positive light of neurodiversity.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates, a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district.

Places at the Neurodiversity in the Workplace - Unlocking Potential and Driving Business Success conference can be booked at a cost of £95. Aberdeen Inspired levy payers can attend free of charge, subject to availability. To book, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/neurodiversity-in-the-workplace-unlocking-potential-and-driving-innovation-tickets-572690672217

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