Neurodiversity refers to differences across human brain makeups, including dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The majority of the neurodiverse population - like the general disability population - are either unemployed or underemployed, and this unfortunate reality places a great burden on the individuals affected as well as our society.
Increasingly there is reason for optimism: Organizations are slowly realizing that neurodivergent minds are an untapped talent pool. To begin to seize potential, there is much for employers to learn about the opportunities around neurodiverse talent in the workforce.
This presentation by Wanda Deschamps will be based on personal experiences and research, as well as programming and activity that can enhance our workplace. It will answer questions such as: What is neurodiversity? Why should employers recruit neurodiverse talent? What does the retention of neurodiverse employees entail? How does neurodiverse talent recruitment and retention fit within employers’ overall Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) strategy? Focused on Canada, it will mention growing awareness of the strengths of neurodiversity within a worldwide context. Related to that, it will also highlight the need for neurodiversity to be recognized as a dimension of diversity.
Wanda K. Deschamps – Founder and Principal Liberty Co
Wanda's ultimate goal is to increase the participation level of members of the neurodiverse population in the workforce with a special focus on autism due to her own diagnosis at midlife.
Prior to founding Liberty Co, Wanda enjoyed a twenty-five year career in the philanthropic sector, serving as a consultant for KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.), a leading fundraising consultancy, as well as an institutional development leader. A champion for inclusion, she enjoys writing under the banner of the Inclusion Revolution, a worldwide movement launched in 2018 to spearhead broader thinking about disability, especially disability employment. Wanda is also the catalyst behind the #women4women collective focused on gender equality through supporting other women. Combining these two goals provides an avenue for Wanda to be an advocate for women with autism, including as a participant in research into autistic women's experiences in the workplace. As a means to further help create safer and healthier workplaces, she is the co-founder of the National Day of Conversation about sexual harassment in the charitable sector.
Outside of work, she relishes time with friends, exercising and reading biographies, as well as books about history and current affairs. Recently she was appointed to The Charity Report’s Literary Review Circle, which has given her a new forum to indulge this love of learning.
Wanda lives in Waterloo, Ontario, with her husband and their two sons.