Building a Network to Transform Unions to Represent the Neurodivergent Workforce (TURN): Context, key findings, conclusions and next steps for TURN

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Transforming unions to represent the neurodivergent workforce (TURN) is a project set up by academics at Heriot-Watt University grounded in the belief that only trade unions can deliver comprehensive, sustainable and a form of change required to make UK workplaces inclusive to neurodivergent workers (see Figure 1 for a full summary of TURN and its goals). Aside from setting out important contextual information of TURN (see Section 6), the main purpose of the report is to consider key issues arising, conclusions and next steps, from a workshop designed to build a network around the aims of TURN.

Specifically, the report assembles key information setting out the background, the impetus for and recent events regarding TURN (see Section 6), followed by an extensive analysis of key findings from the three-part TURN workshop (see Section 7), held via Zoom, on 27 July 2022. A range of further key information regarding the TURN workshop can be found in appendices 1-3, that is: key literature related to unions and neurodiversity, wider details of the workshop,
and verbatim details of views and ideas generated in workshop breakout rooms.

The workshop generated a very wide range of findings, as the participants were drawn from a range of traditional (e.g., employees, unions and employers/HR professionals) and emergent parties to the employment relationships (e.g., practitioners associated with neurodivergent civil society organisations). Key finding focus on the important work already undertaken by unions on neurodiversity (see Section 7.2), what unions need to do to build capacity for
neurodiversity, what power and voice means and how power and voice intersects with gender, for the neurodivergent workforce (see sections 7.3 to 7.5), and what a range of panellists, influential in respective fields related to employment relations, believe should be done to take notions of TURN to the next level (see Section 7.6). As the workshop was held on Zoom, this allowed participants to have parallel conversations, with analysis of such findings shedding further light on how to take TURN forward (see Section 7.7).

The conclusions (see Section 8.1) are divided between recommendations to unions, employers and governments, regarding TURN. Recommendations include mainstreaming neurodiversity across and within the labour movement, employers meaningfully adopting the social model of disability, and governments as employers working with unions on neurodiversity.

The next steps (see Section 8.2) for TURN include further workshops, disseminating key findings from the report, and exploring a wider range of funding to help get TURN off the ground. A full summary of TURN, including conclusions and next steps arising from the workshop, is summarised by Figure 1 (page 13).

Please note: This is a project we are seeking funding for so please email for more details
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


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