Auto Trader’s Disability & Neurodiversity Network urge others to ‘take time to increase knowledge around neurodifferences’ as part of Neurodiversity Celebration Week

This Neurodiversity Celebration Week we wanted to share a little about Auto Trader’s Disability & Neurodiversity network, what it means to us, to our colleagues, and some of our proudest achievements to date.

Auto Trader’s Disability & Neurodiversity network brings together colleagues from across our organisation who share a passion for making Auto Trader more inclusive. We aim to make a difference to our colleagues, customers, consumers and communities who consider themselves to have disabilities, neurodifferences and/or long-term health conditions.

Meghan Power, a facilitator of the Disability & Neurodiversity network, says of the network:

“Being part of our Disability & Neurodiversity Network has helped me feel like I am part of a community rather than feeling like the odd one out. It’s helped me find my individual identity, where my disability is part of me but doesn’t define me completely. Having support and working with other people who navigate the same challenges I do being disabled has helped me uncover how my disability is something I can find joy within.”

As a network, we raise awareness around disability, neurodifferences and long-term health conditions by hosting internal and external events and working with external partners such as Greater Manchester Learning Disability & Neurodiversity & Employment Forum and Business Disability Forum.

One of the most impactful things that our network has done has been to influence a culture of storytelling at Auto Trader. Colleagues have shared their stories via blogs and internal talks about their experiences with ADHD, OCD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, hearing loss, IBD, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and more. The sharing of powerful lived experiences helps us build confidence in colleagues asking for support as well as educating and informing our people on how best to support and be an ally to our disabled and neurodifferent colleagues, customers, and communities.

Network Facilitator, Nardia Roach, says of Auto Trader:

“I’m proud to work for a company that celebrates my differences and if we continue to share our experiences it will hopefully free other people to talk about what have they been through.”

Working with organisations like Leonard Cheshire and Ambitious About Autism, we offer internships to candidates with disabilities, neurodifferences and long-term health conditions. This benefits the interns by building their confidence, allowing them to experience requesting adjustments, and giving them valuable work experience. The internships are also key in upskilling line managers around adjustments in the workplace.

Auto Trader was the first employer to receive the National Autistic Society’s Autism Friendly Employer award in 2019. We recently refurbished our office with inclusivity and accessibility at the centre of the design process. We included height-adjustable desking, clearer floor plan signage and individual workspaces with adjustable lighting. We were super proud to be highly commended for the Workplace Environment Award at the Disability Smart Awards.

We’re a Disability Confident Leader and continue to adapt our recruitment processes to make them more inclusive. Our communications to candidates throughout the recruitment process are accessible, clear, and give as much detail as possible.

As a data lead business, we really understand the importance and impact of data. Over 12% of our colleagues have shared with us that they have a disability or neurodiverse condition. We use this insight to inform our decisions, considering intersectionality with our other Diversity & Inclusion employee networks. 

We also created an Accessibility Working Group to focus on accessibility for Auto Trader colleagues, customers, and consumers. This group raises awareness about accessibility and host workshops for colleagues, so that our website, communications, office, and products are accessible by design.

There are still many barriers to break around Neurodifferences, especially for women.

Sarah Brooks-Pearce, Network Lead, shares:

“Women are currently less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD or autism, and often go misdiagnosed into adulthood*. There often appears to be a misconception that it’s only boys who have ADHD, yet in terms of genetics, there are equal chances of have ADHD. I was in my 30s when I was diagnosed with ADHD, dyspraxia and dyslexia. It made so much sense when I found out more and spoke to other women. I hope from sharing my stories at Auto Trader I can help remove some of the stigma around ADHD in particular and celebrate some of the great differences it brings to me, as well as learning how to manage the traits that are not so helpful.”

This Neurodiversity Celebration Week, let’s take some time to increase our knowledge around neurodifferences. Let’s celebrate the incredible value diversity of thought can bring to our industry, and through learning, listening and celebrating neurodiversity, help build confidence in sharing and a welcoming place where everybody can be their true selves. 

*supported by evidence shared by the ADHD Foundation, ADDitude Magazine and the National Autistic Society

Article written by Victoria Dillon, People Communications and Disability & Neurodiversity Network Lead at Auto Trader UK

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