Opening up about neurodiversity at work with neurodivergent presenter, producer and ambassador Lauren Duffy



Read time
5 mins

Did you know that around 15-20% of the UK population are neurodivergent? Yet, despite this, neurodiverse individuals can still struggle to feel included, happy, well and productive at work – but that doesn’t need to be the case.

We sat down with Lauren Duffy, a neurodivergent presenter, producer and ambassador for the British Dyslexia Association, to discuss neurodiversity at work. We covered everything from her life experiences as a neurodiverse individual to how employers can make their organisations more inclusive. Read on for the full interview, along with upcoming awareness days and additional resources to support your neurodiverse employees.

Photo of Lauren Duffy

Lauren Duffy

“Each neurodivergent individual is completely unique, having different strengths and challenges compared to another person with the same condition”

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I’m neurodiverse myself and have faced adversity throughout my time in education from teachers and peers due to a lack of understanding and acceptance. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in my presenting and media career, but my success has come with a lot of challenges people don’t see. Sadly, I have seen a lack of awareness in workplaces surrounding neurodiversity, which is what led to me highlighting it more through my work in the media and in the training I offer.

You have dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia – can you tell us more about these conditions?

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects reading and writing skills, as well as information processing. Characteristics of dyslexia include difficulties with phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.

Dyspraxia is a common developmental co-ordination disorder that affects movement and coordination. It can impact everything from skills that require balance and playing sports to learning to drive a car. Dyspraxia can also influence your fine motor skills such as writing by hand and tying your shoelaces.

Dyscalculia is a specific learning difficulty that affects how an individual understands numbers and can lead to a diverse range of difficulties with maths. Dyscalculia is significantly under researched compared to other specific learning difficulties, but it’s estimated that it occurs in 3-6% of the population. 

What are three things employers can do to make work better for neurodivergent employees? 

Firstly, create an open, safe space where neurodiverse employees can speak to HR or their line managers about their challenges in work and what can potentially help them. Line managers and HR professionals should be sure to actively listen to these employees and emphasise that their conversations are strictly confidential.

Secondly, offer reasonable adjustments that may help neurodiverse employees, such as:

  • Colour overlays
  • Specialist software
  • Breaks from desks
  • Hot desking

And, finally, have regular check-ins with neurodiverse employees to talk about how they’re getting on and how the support put in place for them is working. Make sure they know they can say if something isn’t working and that alternative solutions can be trialled if need be.

What are some tips for employees who want to discuss their neurodivergence at work? How can they broach the subject? 

Don’t be afraid to be authentic and vulnerable with your colleagues about your challenges – they are there to support you. You can start the conversation by sharing what your specific challenges are and how they impact your work life. It might be helpful to print off resources defining a specific learning difficulty you have, [and share them with colleagues] to give them an even greater understanding of your condition.

What are some common misconceptions about neurodivergence at work and how can we address them? 

A common misconception is that someone can’t do certain tasks because of their neurodiversity – for example, presuming a dyslexic employee can’t write copy. Each neurodivergent individual is completely unique, having different strengths and challenges compared to another person with the same condition. Speak to your neurodiverse colleagues about their strengths, and ask them what their challenges are and how you can help.

Another misconception is that disclosing your neurodivergence in the workplace will work against you – but that shouldn’t be the case. Employers must follow the Equality Act 2010, which states they can’t discriminate against neurodivergent employees within roles and during the hiring process. By law they must provide reasonable adjustments to support neurodivergent individuals.

Are there any upcoming awareness days you’re most looking forward to? How can organisations get involved in those?

Disability History Month takes place from 16 November to 16 December, and is a great opportunity for workplaces to encourage conversations about different disabilities – especially ‘hidden’ ones.

3 December marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is another fantastic opportunity to create a safe space for your employees, spreading positive awareness and encouraging inclusion.

Are you supporting neurodiversity at work?

Lauren Duffy, along with our head of diversity Ann Allcock, recently hosted an insightful webinar on how to support your neurodiverse employees, improving inclusion, wellbeing and productivity. Watch the recording for everything from Lauren’s full story to ways to create an inclusive organisational culture.



Still want to learn more? We also offer a neurodiversity at work eLearning course, available now.