January 27, 2020
Universal Music UK has published what it claims is the first handbook for embracing neurodiversity in the creative industries. It defines neurodiversity as “the infinite variation in cognitive functioning that can lead to differences in thinking, attention and memory”. The handbook, which is titled Creative Differences, explores the experiences of people with specific facets of neurodiversity such as ASD, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and Tourette Syndrome.
The handbook suggests that while nearly all creative companies recognise the value of neurodiversity in the workplace only very few have ND-friendly policies and practices in place. It goes on to suggest a range of solutions companies can adopt to make their workforces more accessible in areas including recruitment, mentorship and career progression.
Specific recommendations include neurodiversity awareness education for all employees, providing flexibility around the job application process and also some less obvious suggestions such as a buddy system to help new recruits better understand unwritten social rules.
A series of animations and a podcast are amongst the materials which are being released to complement the handbook.
David Joseph CBE, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK said, “We believe the best way to flourish in our ever-changing industry is to create a team that truly reflects the incredible diversity of our artist roster and society. While progress has been made in many areas there has been little exploration around the importance of neurodiversity. We looked for a practical guide to help us do what was needed. When we couldn’t find one, we decided to create one and share it, and that’s why we launched the Creative Differences project. Our overall conclusion is that making your organisation ND-friendly is to the benefit of your entire workforce”.
Dr Darren Henley OBE, Chief Executive of Arts Council England who also attended said, “This guide is a powerful moral argument for everyone being able to achieve their personal potential at work; it’s also eloquent in making the business case for more inclusive ways of operating. If the advice shared across Universal Music’s handbook is adopted across the creative industries, more people will be able to flourish more often in more workplaces. That’s good for business, but it’s good for our people too, enabling more of us to enjoy the happy and fulfilled lives that we all deserve”.
Morna Cook, Senior Director, HR at Universal Music UK said: “This has been incredible team effort by the entire HR team and it simply would not have been possible without the contributions of the many people across our business who came forward to offer their time and support, and to share their experiences. We are still very much at the start of this journey but hope that by sharing our learnings other workplaces will be able to benefit from some of the practical tips set out in the handbook.”