Service design

The following considerations for have shaped the current service design:

  1. There may be companies that do a fantastic job of supporting neurodivergent staff and that may even be owned and operated by autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people, but that don’t advertise the fact, because doing so openly would not be understood as a positive factor by their customers.
    • Healthcare service providers or management consulting companies operated by autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people certainly exist, but the level of discrimination is such that some companies do not feel safe to openly talk about their neurodiverse and autistic collaborative advantage.
  2. The only people who are qualified to rate companies on support for autistic and otherwise neurodivergent staff are the neurodivergent people who work there, and the assessment must be based on neurodivergent experiences from many companies that are described in terms of concrete examples.
    • Without external reference points a neurodivergent person who has horrible prior work experiences might perceive an exploitative employer who provides minimal or token accommodation as “a real improvement”, whereas they might just have reached a slightly less desolate place in hell.
    • It is important that ratings are solicited from the broadest possible base, including the large numbers of “undercover” neurodivergent people, and not limited to the token openly neurodivergent staff that large corporations like to draw on in their PR stunts at conferences and in the media.
  3. All companies that are not owned and operated by autistic and otherwise neurodivergent staff need to be carefully scrutinised. Co-opting of neurodiversity and exploitation of autistic staff in particular is in full swing.
    • To obtain a good overall rating, in addition to consistent positive feedback from neurodivergent staff, such companies need to demonstrate that autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people are actively involved in key decision making roles within the organisation and that the board of the organisation does not exclude neurodivergent people from participating at board level.
    • The rating service would be a natural extension of the Bullying Alert System for neurodivergent staff that is already available via this website.
  4. All forms of formal numerical rating schemes are at risk of being subverted and corrupted. A dedicated certification body easily deteriorates into a certification racket that primarily benefits the operators of the racket.
    • A form of direct democracy at work via an ongoing poll might be a better approach. But it may be impossible to ensure only neurodivergent people have access to the poll without discriminating against those without formal diagnosis.
    • A poll that is open to all staff and that focuses on psychological safety and the sensory environment at work might be a better approach.
    • Staff should at any point be allowed to update their ratings, resulting in a more or less “real time” database that covers participating employers.
    • S23M is already involved in compiling a database on psychological safety at work. A team of volunteers from the autistic community and other marginalised groups coordinated via the Autistic Collaboration Trust can run a similar survey on behalf of specific companies that would like to be rated on psychological safety and their level of support for neurodivergent people.
    • If staff are asked to participate in an anonymous survey and are asked to independently submit their contact details to the Autistic Collaboration Trust, the external team of volunteers is in a good position to verify with minimal effort that only genuine staff respond by (a) confirming that the number of survey responses corresponds to the number of received contact details and (b) by manually verifying the identity of a random subset of participants, to ensure that the employer does not distort the survey by submitting responses on behalf of staff.
  5. Employers that decide to commit their workplace culture to independent oversight via the independently administered employer rating service can be given the option to either publicise their ratings to everyone, including the outside world of potential employees, suppliers, and customers, or to keep their ratings private.
    • This may motivate a larger number of employers to participate and learn from staff feedback, and it gives employers the chance to address major challenges and to improve their practices before sharing their ratings.
  6. The rating service could be designed such that it is free of charge for all organisations with 150 staff or less that want to use the service on an annual basis, and such that it incurs charges for larger organisations depending on their size, and for organisations that are committed to running quarterly surveys.
    • There must not be a barrier for small employers to participate. Inclusiveness has the potential to become a genuine advantage for small and medium size employers in terms of their ability to attract and retain employees.
    • The fees for large organisations must reflect a genuine commitment to inclusiveness and psychological safety, and a genuine appreciation of independent oversight of workplace culture.
    • The contributions of some of the most vulnerable people in society must be recognised. The revenue from larger organisations could be used to support those volunteers who administer the service who are unemployed or underemployed.