On April 29th, in honor of Autism Awareness Month Acxiom, Kinesso & Matterkind launched KNeuro: an employee resource group dedicated to and driven by neurodivergent members of our three communities.
This group is a natural next step in the Neurodiversity program that was launched in 2018 and offers our organization and its members a range of services, from educational resources for allies to career development and support for the neurodiverse. Most importantly, it serves as an open, honest space for people to be themselves and come together as a community.
To learn more about this important and exciting new resource group, we sat down for a chat with its founder, Alexis Prendergast.
Can you briefly explain what Neurodiversity means?
Merriam Webster defines Neurodiversity as, “individual differences in brain functioning regarded as normal variations within the human population,” and “the concept that differences in brain functioning within the human population are normal and that brain functioning that is not neurotypical should not be stigmatized.”
To put it simply, it’s the idea that differences in mental facilities and makeup are a natural part of being human. People with learning disabilities such as Autism or ADHD are considered neurodivergent, and people whose mental faculties are more ‘normal’ are considered neurotypical.
Can you tell us about KNeuro’s mission and why you felt it was important to launch this group right now?
KNeuro’s mission is to create a space for neurodivergent employees while also educating neurotypical employees about neurodiversity. Kinesso has been hiring people via their Neurodiversity program since 2018, so there’s definitely an existing population here at the company. While we have a range of employee resource groups, I noticed there wasn’t one dedicated to neurodivergent members of our community, which is what inspired me to start building one. We’re also living in a unique and difficult time because of COVID, so I other employees like myself may need some extra assistance or a space to talk.
What’s your experience been like with the Kinesso Neurodiversity program? What are the positives? Have there been any challenges that you’d like to address?
I’m very thankful for the program here. I’d been looking for a job that actually uses my degree (visual arts) for some time, but also didn’t want to work at a company that wasn’t willing to understand my differences. I’m glad I was able to find both at Kinesso. I’m very comfortable working with my teammates, which is something I was worried about at first.
How do you think organizations can make their communities more inclusive and supportive for neurodivergent people?
The main thing is being willing to understand an employee’s individual needs and capabilities. Everyone is different, and that includes neurodivergent people as well. What might work for one person might not work for another. There are a lot of misunderstandings around neurodivergent people, so companies who want to be more inclusive should start with education. We will be incorporating educational sessions into programming sponsored by KNeuro, which we believe will be very helpful for everyone.
Anything else you’d like to add?
There’s a lot riding on this project for me personally, and I’m very thankful for my teammates helping me along the way. Hopefully it’ll be a massive success!