Neurodiversity is part of the equity equation
I recently had my heart broken, but not in the way you think. My 19-year-old niece with autism started a position as an intern at a senior center. After her first day, she was excited – talking about the tasks she completed and how well she thought it went. However, that night, the center called and asked that my niece not return – they were dropping her from the internship program.
The reason? She failed to say “excuse me” when walking past the program lead and didn’t have a friendly enough tone when speaking with others. My sister asked if my niece had been given any feedback, guidance, or training, and the answer was no.
To me, this was an abrupt and harsh decision that would be difficult for anyone to hear. But for my niece, it was devastating.
Disability inclusion benefits us all
Here at Fannie Mae, we provide coaching and feedback — a way to share areas for improvement and provide guidance that ultimately benefits the employee and the business. For all of us, including people who are neurodivergent, feedback on areas such as social interaction behaviors are essential to helping improve how we communicate with others.
Neurodiversity, much like cultural, racial, and gender diversity, adds to our collective ability to better understand differing viewpoints and work innovatively to solve problems and make improvements for the benefit of all – including employers.
Visibility and support strengthen our community
Fannie Mae leads the way by celebrating the value of diverse perspectives and taking steps to recruit and support diverse talent within our workforce. We’ve been recognized as a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” by the Disability Equality Index® for three consecutive years, and continuously work to create an environment where employees with disabilities have an opportunity to thrive and contribute to our mission.
As President of the In-Visible Inclusion Employee Resource Group (I2 ERG), I lead efforts aimed at spreading awareness of the disability and neurodivergent community at Fannie Mae, including making sure resources and accommodations are available and that we hold safe spaces for the community to connect and support each other. Through our Caregiver Circle, Compassion Corner, and other inclusive events, we tackle subjects such as the stigma of mental illness, the financial realities of homeownership for those with disabilities, how to better embrace neurodiversity, and reframing a future after becoming disabled, to name a few. Recently, we launched disability etiquette training for our colleagues to learn more about the disability and neurodivergent community and how to become better allies and co-workers.
I am proud to work for a company that is committed not only to equality, but equity and accessibility, and empowers employees with disabilities to help shape a more inclusive workplace where everyone, maybe even your niece, has a fair chance to succeed.
Are you looking for an inclusive environment to support your success? Join our team.