Category: Diversity and Inclusion

Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion

Neurodiversity is about recognising that people think about things differently. Most people’s brains work and interpret information similarly, however, others interpret information in different ways. This is just another way of accessing your environment.

Why it’s important that organisations embrace and support neurodiversity in the workplace

Organisations are realising that a diverse set of skills, experiences, perspectives and background fosters innovation. In turn, this can  increase productivity, customers’ needs are better catered for, along with shaping products and services offered.

The National Autistic Society reports that only 16% of adults with autism are in full time work. Many people with autism can work and are enthusiastic to find jobs which reflects their talent and interests. With a little understanding and small adjustments to the workplace, they can be a real asset to businesses across the UK.

What we are doing to attract and retain neurodivergent people

  • We have raised awareness of neurodivergent conditions, such as autism, among colleagues and managers, so that they are best placed to support neurodivergent colleagues in the workplace.
  • We have provided training for line managers on supporting and managing colleagues with autism.
  • We are constantly refining our job descriptions to give candidates a clearer sense of what’s involved in the job role.
  • We have taken steps to update our candidate packs. We are in the process of redesigning our recruitment webpages to ensure we are accessible to all.
  • We are currently reviewing our recruitment processes to maximise inclusion by ensuring our values are aligned with our recruitment.
  • We work with candidates to understand what support, if any, they will need if appointed. This can involve  adjustments to the sensory environment, such as providing quiet spaces to work, assistive software, noise-cancelling headphones, buddying and sensory aids.

 The Assembly Commission is a signatory of the Government’s Disability Confident Campaign – we are a Disability Confident Employer and have also been awarded the National Autism Society Autism Friendly Award.

As an employee at the Assembly Commission with a diagnosis of Autism and ADHD, I feel accepted for who I am, as a person living with these disabilities. The organisation has been very supportive towards my wish to work part-time as this is so suitable for my needs.

It was a great honour to deliver a presentation at a staff training session about autism where I had the chance to talk about my personal experiences in this area. This specialised staff training session greatly helped me and my line manager understand my needs and reasonable adjustments have been carried out as a result.

I look forward to continuing to gain more skills and experience during my employment here and continue to avidly contribute to the day-to-day running of the organisation.”

Assembly Commission employee

 

Promoting a Family Friendly Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion Week

This week, we are celebrating Diversity and Inclusion. Here at the Assembly, we work tirelessly  towards developing policies and procedures that support our goal of being an inclusive employer, helping us develop an organisational culture where people can be themselves, but also thrive and achieve their potential.

We work with our Workplace Equality Networks (WENs) to ensure that our employees can talk to and be supported by like-minded people. Staff who identify as a protected characteristic can come together and support each other, as well as offer advice on how we can become a more inclusive employer.

We recognise that it is increasingly becoming harder to juggle our day to day lives with our work, and so we are proud to have a range of flexible working arrangements which include flexi-time, part-time working, working from home, job share opportunities and career breaks. Our flexible working arrangements have consistently  earnt us a spot on the Top 30 Family Friendly Employer list.

Our TEULU Network is our working parents and carers WEN and its purpose is to:

  • raise awareness and understanding of needs and barriers to inclusion within the workplace;
  • influence and develop a range of policies, services and training around issues that could affect working parents and carers;
  • promote the rights and participation of working parents and carers in all aspects of the policies, practices and procedures within the Assembly Parliamentary Services;
  • actively contribute to the development and review of relevant policies via equality impact assessments; and
  • gather and promote information on a range of issues pertinent to working parents and carers

Look for the sunshine in the rain

Guest post from Bleddyn Harris, Organisational Development and Training Officer  – National Assembly for Wales. Diversity and Inclusion Week.

Rainbow

Noun

An arch of colours visible in the sky, caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere.

When Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag, I wonder if he ever truly understood how – alongside becoming an unapologetically fabulous and auspicious protest against the undue discrimination of love and identity – it perfectly encapsulated the experience of the many LGBTQ individuals who have used it as a shield in a world that doesn’t appear to want them: sunshine and rain, all at once.

When I think about being gay, I often come to the conclusion that it has been the single most painful and healing experience I have endured. Not that being gay is a painful experience, more that it has been the excuse so many have used when they have left me raw and exposed, often, and paradoxically, in the name of ‘love’. It has been a catalyst for people who do not know me, who will never meet me, who will never accept me, who will never love me, to call for me to be made illegal, to erase my history, to want me in jail, to think to beat me up, to stop me from getting married, to want me dead. See, it’s not all unicorns and drag queens, is it?

I don’t quite like to say that being my authentic self is in spite of the kinds of people I have named above because I feel it attributes all of the battles I have had to win with my self-esteem and self-acceptance to a bunch of people who will never care… but, yes, being myself is totally in spite of those people because I want them to know that I won’t let their bigotry get in the way of me living my life full of colour and with a love they seek to deny me.

I know, I know, I’m harping on about the negative aspects of this experience, but it’s only because I think the struggle is often overlooked by the idea that the community, specifically gay men, are a collective group of audacious and colourful people who are happy to be bold and bright and beautiful in their own way, no matter what. There’s never really a discussion about the internal monologues, the struggles, the fear we have when we walk down the street because ‘do I look too gay? Am I walking funny? People are looking: I should stop holding my partner’s hand’.

I feel this struggle, as well as everyone’s entirely personal and different experience of being a part of the LGBTQ community, was summed up in a conversation I had with a friend over dinner: we were talking about an LGBT talk we saw at the Hay Festival that centred on the Stonewall Uprising and the struggles we’ve endured and the successes the community has been given – please note that we have to be given the same right as our heterosexual and cis-gendered counterparts which means they can just as easily be given away. The conversation led to a question of whether we would take a pill to make us straight. I immediately said no without much thought. My friend said yes. He asked me why I would choose to live a life of living on the outskirts of being ‘normal’, a life of constantly looking over your shoulder because you walk/talk a certain way, a life of feeling like you’re only ever tolerated and not truly accepted. I gently reminded him that sometimes you need to look for the sunshine in the rain and know that we are able to live the life so many people before our time died dreaming of: their prayers, strength, and rebellion still protect us.

If you’ve managed to stay with me, I’d like to pay homage to those who came before me that I’ll never be able to meet, that I’ll never be able to thank. Too many of their names and stories have been forgotten. Why? I don’t know. Is it society trying to erase our history? Maybe. Is it society attempting to avoid their guilt by not bringing it up? Possibly. Is this absence of heroes still affecting the lives of millions of LGBTQ individuals who still feel like they don’t belong? Absolutely. Whatever it is, I mourn it. I mourn the history, the pride, the art, and the wisdom that has died with the gay men, the lesbians, the trans and non-binary individuals, people who are bi, the activists, the lovers, the thinkers, the queers, the ones who loved too much, the ones who trusted too much, the ones who made a silly mistake on a night out because they were trying to escape the cruel reality of their world filled with an unfiltered and unneeded hatred. I’m angry at how the lives, loves, and loss of these people are constantly being undermined in countries around the world. I’m angry that I’m still illegal in over 70 countries. I’m angry that there are protests against teaching children about different family dynamics. I’m angry that people are ignoring the fact that LGBTQ individuals are more likely to be affected by mental health issues. I’m angry that people think that our struggle is over because some laws have been changed to protect us.

But would I take a pill to make me straight? Absolutely not.

If I had to do it all over again, I would. I’d go through all the bullying, the rejection, the being told I have a demon inside of me that must be prayed away, being told I should die, being told I’m not worthy, being told that God doesn’t love me, being told I shouldn’t have been born, being told I’ll burn in hell, being asked to leave the church, being spat on nights out, being told I’m not a real man, being told I’d never be happy, because accepting myself and learning, each and every day, to love myself in the face of adversity has been worth it.

I don’t know where I’d be today if I didn’t have the courage to accept myself and allow myself the love to find out who I am: a proud gay man.

It’s for these reasons that I work at the Assembly and pursue an active role within the OutNAW network: with such an openly inclusive and diverse staff, it was important to me to work in a place central to the development of Wales who exhibits the culture we need to make sure no bi voice goes unheard, no trans individual is told they can’t be who they are, that no lesbian teenager is bullied for being herself, that no gay has to think about whether they would take a pill to be straight.

rainbow flag

Organisational Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Guest post from Manon Antoniazzi, Chief Executive and Clerk  – National Assembly for Wales.

Today is the first day of our Diversity and Inclusion week.

The senior team and I are wholly committed to ensuring that as an employer and parliamentary organisation, we are an exemplar in our promotion of diversity, inclusion, equality and provision of accessible services.

In order to deliver this, we have developed our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and accompanying action plan which will help us deliver our diversity and inclusion vision and values.

The Strategy sets out how our staff deliver and promote inclusive, accessible services and achieve positive outcomes for people.

It will also help us plan how we comply with the duties placed on the Assembly Commission by the Government of Wales Act 2006 and also by the Equality Act 2010, covering each of the protected characteristics and other issues such as caring responsibilities, social mobility and other inequalities.

As an employer and service provider, our organisation is committed to ensuring that no-one is disadvantaged or discriminated against on these grounds: discriminatory behaviour will be dealt with via our disciplinary procedures. Also, as an employer, we encourage flexible working practices whilst accommodating our business needs.

In line with the Assembly Commission’s strategic goals, it is important to us that the Assembly continues to be accessible to the people of Wales and beyond: making it relevant, easy and meaningful for people to interact with it and contribute to its work.

It is also important to us that we behave as an inclusive employer, attracting and retaining talent, enabling everyone we employ to realise their full potential.

 


Manon Antoniazzi  – Chief Executive and Clerk


RESPECT

We are inclusive, kind, and value each other’s contributions in delivering excellent services.

PASSION

We are purposeful in our support of democracy and pull together to make a difference for the people of Wales.

PRIDE

We embrace innovation and celebrate our achievements together as a team.

WE ARE ONE TEAM

 

Meet the team: Security Officers

Our Security Officers are responsible for the safety and security of all those who visit or work at the National Assembly for Wales. Here, some of the team talk about the role…

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

Shahzad

Shahzad, Security Officer

“I have been working in Security now for six months. I have had the most amazing and wonderful experiences.  To be able to work and be part of the Welsh Assembly staff is an honour in itself and such an accolade to have.

The National Assembly holds diversity and multi-cultural ethos in its core values. I have seen Welsh local school children, charities, different ethnic backgrounds and organisations from all walks of life during my role as a Security Officer. Local people from the Association of Muslim professionals to the Autistic Society to the local woman’s forum to name a few. I feel that we have so much to offer from Ty Hywel, the Senedd and our iconic Pierhead buildings. 

Local cultures and public in general from all walks of life visit us on a daily basis and we are such a symbol of hope and prosperity. Within the last 6 months I have seen a positive change within myself and flourished in terms of commitment, resilience and being able to adjust to business needs and requirements. I have grown within myself and every day is a learning curve.

I am currently learning Welsh and have been on numerous courses.  There are so many opportunities to enhance skills and develop within my role.  I am also able to provide time to my family due to different shift patterns and work life balance. 

Being able to speak different dialects from the Asian background the joy it brings to the public and myself I felt being really helpful.  This was only possible whilst I am working for the Welsh Assembly.

The positive culture and friendly professional attitude coupled with hard work is in the heart of what we do in Security. So we are firm at the same time in touch with our customer service and adhere to a professional code at all times.

I am proud to be part of the National Assembly Security team and look forward to a long career.

The personal support I receive is the best I have seen in my entire career.  From my colleagues to my managers and senior managers the support and help I receive have been absolutely wonderful.”


Chris

Chris, Security Officer

“My responsibilities as a Security Officer vary day to day.  It’s a challenging role that requires constant vigilance and composure which is demanding yet rewarding. I witness the team ethic instilled within the department every day and a consistency that is essential for the provision of public safety. It’s great to work alongside the police and external agencies to maintain the wellbeing of all visitors and staff on the Assembly estate.

The frequency of events and role rotation keeps each day interesting, from weekly Plenary to National Eisteddfod, Champions League to Grand Slam Celebrations.  There are plenty of opportunities to develop skills by accessing on-site training or courses and I look forward to further developing my role at the Assembly.”

Stacey

Stacey, Security Officer

“Working as part of the security team is a varied role and no two days are the same. We get to engage with stakeholders across the entire organisation and with members of the public from all walks of life. We also get to be involved with the running of the political environment within the assembly working closely with the members themselves. We work a varied shift pattern which elevates the same mundane hours of work week in week out.

The role also has a training element encouraging the team to be trained in first aid, conflict management and evacuation procedures to name a few.

We also get the opportunity to work alongside prestigious events such as homecoming events for the welsh rugby team, Geraint Thomas’ homecoming and the GB Olympic teams.

There is always something to be a part of and the variety of the role is what makes it so interesting.”


Security Officers are the first point of contact for Assembly Members, staff and all visitors to the Senedd, Pierhead and Tŷ Hywel buildings.  They must be able to provide first class customer service, along with the necessary skills to protect the people, property and equipment within the estate.


We are currently recruiting for new Security Officers.

Find out more or make an application on our recruitment pages.

Visiting the National Assembly for Wales: World autism awareness week


Here at the National Assembly for Wales we are proud to promote equality for everyone.

L-R: External images of Ty Hywel, The Senedd and Pierhead buildings

We work to make sure that our buildings are accessible to visitors with autism.

The Senedd is the main public building of the National Assembly for Wales. Boasting an iconic debating chamber, stunning architecture and views over Cardiff Bay, it is also free for the public to visit throughout the year.

The Pierhead is the red brick building with a clock tower, next to the Senedd. One of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in Cardiff Bay, it’s open for the public to explore daily.

Tŷ Hywel is the office building behind the Senedd where Assembly Members and staff of the National Assembly for Wales are based. Although this is not a visitor attraction, people may enter the building to visit an Assembly Member or a member of staff. We also offer educational workshops in this building, where we have a special debating chamber just for children and young people. 

We have created a webpage to provide information for visitors with autism, and guides which cover each building in detail. We look at the Senedd, Pierhead and Ty Hywel buildings and some of the things visitors may be worried about, including:

  • Security checks, and what happens when you enter the buildings
  • Noises to expect and recordings of the sounds you might hear
  • Sensory issues such as lighting and smells
  • Information about our Quiet Rooms, which can be used for prayer, quiet reflection, or a calm break for people struggling with sensory overload.

You can also ask for any of the guides in:

  • Hard copy
  • Easy read version
  • Large print
  • Braille

You can find all the guides, sound recordings and further information on our Visitors with an Autism Spectrum Condition webpage.

As well as visitors with autism spectrum conditions, we strive to make our buildings accessible to all visitors. Our facilities include:

  • Ramps and lifts
  • Autism-friendly labelling
  • Hearing loop systems
  • Wheelchair hire
  • A range of toilet facilities including gender neutral toilets, accessible toilets, a Changing Places facility with adult hoist, and toilets for people with mobility issues
  • Disabled parking spaces.

More information on the things we have included in the design of our estate, to ensure the building meets its target of being exemplar in terms of accessibility, is available on our Security and Access webpage.

We hope you enjoy your visit and welcome feedback on improvements that can be made.


More information on our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion is set out in our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2016-21.

If you have any questions you can contact us on 0300 200 6565 or email contact@assembly.wales.


Get the Guide (PDF, 137 KB)

World Autism Awareness Day, 2 April 2019

Sarah Morgan

Our guest blog comes from Sarah A Morgan, Senior Branch Engagement Officer at the National Autistic Society – Wales, as we mark World Autism Awareness Week.

 

National Autistic Society Picture of fundraisers with caption World Autism Awareness Week is back

 

NAS Autism Friendly logo

As an Autism Friendly Award holder we are proud to mark World Autism Awareness Week. The Autism Friendly Award demonstrates our commitment to being an accessible venue for visitors who are on the autism spectrum.

 

 

Below are some of the things the Assembly does in order to achieve the accreditation, we have:

• a section on our website dedicated to visitors with autism. The section provides information links to specifically designed resources in different formats;

• designated quiet areas for people with autism to rest and de-stress;

• ensured relevant staff received disability confidence training, which includes a section on autism;

• identified Autism Champions from across the organisation, and

• established links with National Autistic Society and work closely with them to ensure we are an organisation that engages with everyone in Wales, including people with autism.

We like to think that we are a modern, accessible parliamentary body with which people from a diverse range of backgrounds can easily and meaningfully interact, because our facilities, services and information are accessible to all. However, don’t take our word for it, here is what Sarah from the NAS had to say about visiting the Senedd with a group of their volunteers and service users.

“I have been to the Senedd for many different occasions, on the last visit I attend a guided tour with a group of our clients. This tour was during Disability Access day and it was specifically designed to caterer for individuals who are autistic.

Knowing that the Senedd had achieved their NAS autism Friendly Award it was a chance to see if they were applying their best practice work in practice.

The tour was very easy to book and the website was very clear and descriptive of what may happen on the day. Soon arrival we knew we would have to go through security, but they were very helpful. Then going to reception, we found the staff were once again very helpful and friendly. Our experience was all very good and it was not long before the tour guide was there to assist.

The guide was so informative and had a knowledge of the specific requirements of the group. He tailored the tour to the needs of the individuals and made it very fun and Interactive. He was always checking on the group and adjusted things accordingly.

Everyone enjoyed the tour and it was a great success, I think we all took a lot away from the visit.

The Senedd really is doing a good job of helping everyone enjoy their experience. The staff seemed very aware of Autism and how they could help make the group enjoy their visit. It is always very pleasing to know that a business is autism Friendly, but it was great to experience this first hand.”

Picture of World Autism Day logo