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Online workshop: Transforming Unions to Represent the Neurodivergent workforce

July 27, 2022 @ 08:30 - 12:00

Janine will be a key note speaker and workshop leader.

Organised by The Centre for Employment, Work and the Professions (CREWS) at Heriot-Watt. Details and registration here.


What is the workshop about?

The workshop aims to address the challenges faced by UK unions in building wider and extended capacity to represent the neurodivergent workforce. Such challenges broadly involves the capacity and resources to provide the training required to build and sustain effective rep networks capable of representing neurodivergent members. Within such challenges, unions need to better comprehend what power and voice mean to neurodivergent members, plus consider how gender intersects with neurodiversity to inform power and voice at work.


For around a decade, UK trade unions have built the capacity to represent neurodivergent members and work towards re-shaping HRM policy and practice traditionally designed around the neuro-typical workforce. Importantly, research suggests unions undertaking work on neurodiversity are viewed positively by employers and managers, simply because unions have scarce and effective expertise on an increasingly important aspect of equality, diversity and inclusion.

As such, a range of unions have put together toolkits and provided training to members and reps on neurodiversity – e.g., TSSA, Prospect, Unite, Unison, RMT, PCS, NASUWT. However, UK unions face a range of wider challenges, with one consequence being unrealised capacity to represent, collectively and individually, the neurodivergent workforce across the full range of industries, sectors, professions and occupations where unions operate.

Who is the workshop for?

  • Union equalities officials and reps undertaking or seeking to undertake work on neurodiversity;
  • Neurodivergent workers (union and non-union) seeking to know more about, influence and lead on union work on neurodiversity;
  • HRM professionals and managers who work with unions and staff representatives on equalities;
  • Government policymakers with a remit covering equalities, fair work, employment, and industrial relations;
  • Neurodiversity practitioners seeking to learn more about union work on neurodiversity; and,
  • Academics from fields surrounding equalities, neurodiversity, gender, work, employment, HRM, and industrial/employment relations.

What will the workshop involve?

There will be three inter-linked sessions:

1) Keynote speakers: A sequence of short presentations showcasing union work on neurodiversity, hearing from neurodivergent members and HR professionals / managers who have benefitted from union work on neurodiversity, and details of research conducted on unions and neurodiversity.

2) Breakout activities: Facilitated group work* discussing three key issues: What do unions need to build and widen capacity around neurodiversity; what does power and voice look like for the neurodivergent workforce; how should gender be reflected in power and voice at work, and in the work of unions on neurodiversity?

3) A panel-led discussion: Summing up key issues arising from the workshop, giving rise to a plan to transform the capacity of unions to represent the neurodivergent workforce.

*Breakout activities are optional – Zoom breakout rooms (10 ppl per group) and a Padlet discussion board will be used – we will ask closer to the time if you have a preference of topic.


9.30 – Welcome & introductions

9.45 – Keynote speakers / short presentations

10.45 – Break for 15 mins

11 – Breakout activities & discussion – via Padlet

11.30 – Discussion of breakout activities as one group

11.45 – Break for 15 mins

12-1 pm – Panel-led discussion – Q&A

British Sign Language Interpreters will be available, please let us know if you need any adjustments


July 27, 2022
08:30 - 12:00

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