Jean Francois Gravelot “The Great Blondin” was the first person to tightrope walk across Niagara Falls quarter-mile gap. He was not just content with crossing the gap once, he did it over 300 times and each time pushed himself to a new level of difficulty. This included cooking an omelette in the middle, sitting down, and lowering a rope to collect a bottle of wine from the ‘Maid of the mist’ boat below and even carrying his manager on his back.
On one occasion he crossed with a wheelbarrow to the rapturous applause of the crowd. On reaching one side he approached a Royal party who were watching him and asked if one of them would like to make the trip inside the wheelbarrow. He was declined, so he asked the crowd if anyone else would like to make the crossing in the wheelbarrow and no one spoke up except for one small old woman. He crossed successfully with her in the wheelbarrow to rapturous applause. It was reported later that this woman was his mother.
Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.
Before we can even begin to engage in such feats as Jean achieved at Niagara, we first need the opportunity to get involved. That means being able to take part and in the words of Vernā Myers being asked to dance. I would like to take this further though and explore what it takes to get to the point where you can dance like nobody’s watching.
Because diversity is about being asked to take part, equity is about having the transport to get there, inclusion is about being asked to get involved and equality is performing like no one is watching.
Diversity – is being invited to ‘The Party’
For equality and neurodiversity to be a reality this is a statement of intent for neurodivergent individuals.
It is about knowing that you can bring your best self to the situation you are working on. What is important is that this is not a half-hearted attempt at inclusivity but instead a concerted effort to invite those that think differently to the table. This is not one of those invites when you say you want people to come, but you do not expect them to turn up! Find out more here.
Equity – is having proper transport to get there
This is more than just supplying a bus or tightrope but instead supplying proper transport for the individuals that have been invited. For neurodivergent individuals, this is about thinking about the environment in terms of the tools that are supplied and the way things are done. For example, it could be about creating quiet spaces or supplying assistive technology tools. The key thing is that places are created where people feel safe and equipped to perform.
Understanding the guidelines (or where the rope is) for your workplace and having it made clear is vital. Find out more here.
Inclusion – is being asked to participate
To be included you need to be invited and have the tools and environment to be present. Being asked to take part shows the value that you are placing on the person you are asking. Asking them to take part because you see their strengths and know that they can add value is vital. Inclusion is not a display, it is about mutual benefit and creating places that allow the individual to walk the most difficult tight ropes.
Equality and neurodiversity – performing like no one is watching
Equality and Neurodiversity is about creating a level playing field where individuals get to use their skills and competencies in great ways. It is a place where creativity explodes, and innovation is paramount that can only be realised if you can bring your full neurodivergent self to work. It is about challenging and being okay with offering insight without fear and recognising the value that you can bring whilst encouraging the potential you see in others.
This is only possible if diversity, equity, and inclusion are present then equality and neurodiversity works!
Neurodiversity and neurodivergent thinking are hot topics. There are many ways to approach this area. I would encourage you to think deeply about how you can utilise the great potential these thinking skills can offer to your organisation. If you would like some help or just a conversation to explore this further, please get in contact.