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Tees Valley-based charity, Daisy Chain Project brought over 50 businesses from across the Tees Valley together to tackle the autism employment gap at its Employability Summit event on 16th November 2021.

Businesses, including EE, Thirteen Group, and Newcastle Building Society attended to support the organisation’s campaign to reduce the staggering employment gap that exists for autistic people. The event, which was made possible thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, was hosted in Darlington.

Attendees identified a number of ways in which they could adapt their own recruitment practices to become more inclusive. This included reducing jargon and ensuring that job adverts are clear, concise and reflect the genuine needs of the role.

Hayley Matthews, Head of Adult Services at Daisy Chain said: “It is incredibly important that businesses embrace diversity and recognise the unique skills, perspectives and impact that autistic employees can bring to an organisation. It is our duty to ensure that we are removing barriers for autistic job seekers and that we foster a supportive culture within the workplace which allows autistic and diverse staff to shine and feel safe to be their authentic selves.

“By educating ourselves and making small changes, we can create an inclusive society where the skills of all employees are celebrated, fostered and utilised – to the benefit of the individuals themselves but also to the business.”

Lee Corless, Autism Work and Inclusion Specialist, founder of one of the globes leading Autism at Work programmes and one of the speakers at the event said: “It was such an honour to be invited to speak at this incredibly important event. Being autistic myself and holding senior positions, I hope that hearing about my experiences was invaluable for the businesses that attended, and shone a light on just what that autism talent can offer.”

Kelly Grainger, successful businessman, autistic keynote speaker, trainer and founder of Perfectly Autistic said: “It was fantastic being part of such a successful event and I was delighted to share my experience of being diagnosed autistic in my forties. It was great talking about what I’ve learnt during my corporate career and since launching my own business. It’s so crucial to discuss autism and neurodiversity within employment, so it was brilliant that Daisy Chain Project united so many local businesses.”

Following the variety of keynote speakers and networking, businesses in attendance pledged to make changes in their own organisations to contribute to levelling the playing field for autistic job seekers.

If you’d like to find out more about how your business can tap into autism talent, contact the Daisy Chain employability team on employability@daisychainproject.co.uk