Build it, and they will come

Build it, and they will come

In my last blog post, I began to explore why neurodivergent people are so much less likely to be employed than neurotypical people. In this post, I’m going to explore why this might be.

The architecture of oppression is old and runs deep in our society. Even the buildings we work in are often designed in ways that disturb neurodiverse people. Once again, I must emphasise that no moustache-twiddling coalition of evil designed these systems to oppress anyone. Still, because neurodiverse people have been excluded from the workplace throughout history and were never meaningfully consulted about building or asked what they needed to succeed, they never got to inform the development of the modern world, which was then designed to suit those who were naturally well adapted to the existing systems and who therefore more often found themselves in positions of authority, helping to shape them.

“All the world’s strange, save thee and me… and even thee’s a little odd.”


Signs of progress

The University and other organisations are reassessing everything from the inclusivity of our environmental design, signage and furniture choices in study spaces. At the same time, the human resources profession wrangles with the perennial challenge of neutralising human prejudice and achieving equitable recruitment and selection processes and reviewing the impact of all university policies on diversity and inclusion. Neurodiverse people work at all levels in the University, which prides itself on its inclusive culture, and more widely, the world is changing, but it changes slowly. It is difficult to identify precisely what needs to change and how in a large and complex organisation, and still harder (and more expensive) to consult neurodiverse people widely and effectively put in place all the structural changes that are necessary, and then there still remains the biggest obstacle of all: the conditioned learning and hidden biases that unconsciously guide people away from employing and promoting people who might be excellent potential employees but require more effort to manage. We are at last moving in the right direction, but the national employment figures suggest that we are in a select company.

Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

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