What to expect at Texthelp's first ever Festival of Workplace Inclusion

On 26th May 2022, we’re hosting our first ever Festival of Workplace Inclusion. A free virtual conference where we’ll explore how to create a better working world for those of us who think, work and learn differently. 

On this day, we’ll be bringing together industry experts and people with lived experiences of neurodiversity and disability. Together, we’ll uncover how we can work together to drive change, and make a lasting impact.

15% of the world’s population have a disability. That’s 1 in 7 people. Around 15-20% of us have a neurodiversity such as Dyslexia, Autism and ADHD.

When it comes to workplace inclusion, neurodiversity and disability has long been the forgotten piece in the agenda. In fact, research found that 90% of companies said they prioritised diversity and inclusion (D&I), yet only 4% considered disability in their initiatives.

That was back in 2016.

This year, we conducted our own research with HR and D&I professionals throughout the US and UK. We found that 94% have established neurodiversity and disability inclusion best practices into their workplace.

Slowly, our workplaces are becoming a place where everyone is included. But we’ve still got a long way to go.

Our research also showed that when it comes to D&I priorities, disability is still ranked as one of the lowest. Race was found to be the top priority at 38%, followed by gender at 25%. Socio-economic background, disability, and sexual orientation were ranked the lowest at 16%, 15%, and 6% respectively.

As organisations, we need to make sure that we’re creating environments where everyone can thrive. That means being accessible, inclusive, and flexible to different needs.

Our hope for this festival is to create time and space to inspire one another to continue to drive change. Our goal is to bring you the information and tools you need to help you to do your part as best you can.

What to expect…

During the festival you’ll attend live sessions and panel discussions, explore lots of free resources, and more. 

Hear from organisations including…

We’ll cover workplace inclusion at every stage of the employee lifecycle. From inclusive recruitment and onboarding, to retaining and developing diverse talent. As well as how to create a truly inclusive culture.

The agenda

9.00am - 9.10am (BST)

Opening session: Improving workplace inclusion for all

In this session we’ll share our hopes and desires for the day ahead. We’ll get the conversation started and get everyone thinking about the part we can each play in improving the working experience for all. 

Speaker: Martin McKay, Founder & CEO, Texthelp.

9.10am - 9.30am (BST)

Keynote session: A highlight on Dyslexia, with Jay Blades MBE and Martin McKay.

At least 1 in 10 of us has Dyslexia, yet many still experience a lack of support in the world of work. In fact 3 in 4 hide our dyslexia from our employers. In this session, Texthelp’s CEO, Martin McKay, will be joined by Jay Blades MBE, a UK TV presenter with Dyslexia. Together they’ll bring the spotlight to understanding dyslexia.

Speakers: Jay Blades MBE, a UK TV presenter with Dyslexia. Martin McKay, Founder & CEO, Texthelp.

Speaking on the upcoming session, Jay said;

"I was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 30. Up until that point I felt very misunderstood, and as a result I didn’t receive the support that I should have. Today, at age 51 I’m learning to read better. As one of 8 million adults in the UK who has difficulty reading, I’m sharing my story to help raise awareness. Dyslexia isn’t something that limits you. In fact, it’s my superpower. Dyslexic thinking is linked to strengths including creativity and problem-solving. These abilities have positively impacted my career. What limits people with dyslexia is a lack of understanding and flexibility in the way we learn and work. Let’s create a world where different ways of thinking and doing are encouraged and valued."

9.30am - 10.00am (BST)

Inclusive Recruitment: 5 key tips you need to know 

Inclusive recruitment is a way of recruiting that recognises, understands and values differences in every part of the process. In this session, gain 5 key tips to creating a recruitment process that welcomes neurodivergent talent. You’ll hear from Maria Hamilton from Auticon, an IT consultancy that exclusively employs autistic adults as IT consultants.

Speaker: Maria Hamilton, Engagement Manager, Auticon UK.

10.00am - 10.30am (BST)

How to create an inclusive Early Careers recruitment strategy

Half of UK businesses are reluctant to employ those who are neurodivergent. For many students and graduates, the world of work can feel unwelcoming. During this session, we'll explore how to create an inclusive Early Careers recruitment strategy. Gain advice from Ellie Long, Early Careers Business Partner at Rolls Royce - sponsors of the ‘Undergraduate of the Year Award Celebrating Neurodiverse Talent’. Ellie will focus on the 3 core pillars of the Rolls-Royce Early Careers talent attraction and recruitment strategy. She'll look at how all aspects of attraction, assessment and selection were redesigned to support diverse candidates to be at their best.

Speaker: Ellie Long, Global Inclusive Hiring & Campaign Lead, Rolls-Royce.

10.30am - 11.30am (BST)

Transforming the first 90 days of the employee experience

76% of people with a disability or neurodiverse condition do not fully disclose this at work. In this session, discover how to support new starts with disability and neurodiversity in mind, from day 1. Our panel will share key tips that'll help you transform your onboarding process. 

Speakers: Carla Henison, Diversity & Inclusion Business Partner, Hymans Robertson. Jamie Shields,  Global Disability ERG Lead, AMS. Calum McBurney, Talent Acquisition Lead, Texthelp.

Carla Henison Jamie Shields Calum Burney Headshots

11.30am - 12.00pm (BST)

Using technology to help a neurodiverse workforce thrive

In the workplace, 43% of employees with disabilities or neurodiverse conditions do not feel comfortable to approach their employer to ask for change. Inclusive technology can offer instant and discreet support to staff, without the need to self-identify. In this session, explore our inclusion tool, Read&Write for Work. It’s a powerful set of reading and writing tools to help the huge numbers of people who struggle with digital text in some way. Discover how it can be easily integrated into your workplace so that your entire workforce has the support they need to work and achieve in their own way.

Speaker: Paul Fox, Accessibility & Inclusion Specialist, Texthelp.

12.00pm - 1.00pm (BST)

Empowering neurodivergent superheroes & eliminating kryptonite at work

Neurodivergent individuals have unique ways of thinking, processing, learning and behaving. That means they bring to the workplace talents that are simply unforgettable - from out-of-the-box thinking to creative solutions and more. In this session, explore what you can do to help your neurodivergent colleagues thrive. Our panel will share advice based on their lived experiences and professional insights. They’ll also highlight common challenges with the modern workplace that can impact career success, and offer tips to overcome them.

Speakers: Theo Smith, Neurodiversity Evangelist. Ruth Ellen Danquah, Chief Innovation Officer, Exceptional Individuals. Aidan Healy, CEO, Lexxic. Jess Gosling, Senior Innovation Policy Advisor, UK Government and Co-Chair of UK Civil Service Neurodiversity Network (CSNN).

Theo Smith, Ruth Ellen Danquah, Aidan Healy and Jess Gosling

This session was inspired by panelist Theo Smith, Founder of the ‘Neurodiversity-Eliminating Kryptonite & Enabling Superheroes’ podcast and co-author of the book, ‘Neurodiversity at Work’. Register and gain first-hand insights from Theo.

1:00pm - 1.30pm (BST)


Take a break. Relax. Enjoy our booths and download lots of free resources to help you improve workplace inclusion.

1.30pm - 2.00pm (BST)

Improving the employee experience: lessons from leading brands

43% of employees with disabilities or neurodiverse conditions do not feel comfortable to approach their employer to ask for change. Fear of stigma is a leading cause. Openly embracing differences, and supporting different ways of thinking and doing greatly improves the employee experience.

In this session, we’ll explore programmes and initiatives proven to make a difference. Gain insights from Leila McKenzie-Delis, CEO, DIAL Global, who will share examples from some well known brands leading the way. Take away actionable inclusion strategies that’ll help you make a difference.

Speaker: Leila McKenzie-Delis, CEO, DIAL Global

2.00pm - 2.30pm (BST)

Uncovering the power of neurodiversity champions & Employee Network Groups

We all want to feel like we belong. It’s human nature. We also thrive best in environments that support us, value us, and where we feel celebrated. In this session, explore the power of Employee Network Groups (ENGs) and Neurodiversity champions. Gain advice from Barrie Morgan-Scrutton, Founder of North West NHS Dyslexia Network. Barrie will share how to develop these initiatives, and uncover the impact they can have on your people.

Speaker: Barrie Morgan-Scrutton, Founder, North West NHS Dyslexia Network.

2.30pm - 3.30pm (BST)

3 key ‘ingredients’ for creating an inclusive workplace culture

A truly inclusive workplace celebrates differences, amplifies employee voices, and creates a sense of belonging for all. Developing an inclusive culture begins with transparent leadership. It’s carried on through your people. And is supported by community initiatives. In this session our panel will explore these 3 key ‘ingredients’ and how they form the building blocks of an inclusive culture.

Speakers: Paulette Cohen MBE, Head of Diversity & Inclusion (UK, Europe/ME), Barclays. Priyaneet Kainth, Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Manager - Consumer Healthcare, GlaxoSmithKline. Cathy Donnelly, Chief People Officer, Texthelp.

Paulette Cohen, Priyaneet Kainth and Cathy Donnelly Headshots

3.30pm - 4.00pm (BST)

An EY story: The role of technology in ‘building a better working world’ for all

Success happens when all employees are encouraged to be themselves. In this session, hear from EY, a company whose sole purpose is to 'build a better working world'.  Discover how inclusive technology helps them to empower the unique voices of their employees. Explore tools that encourage employees to become the best version of themselves.

Speaker: Kevin Grogg, Assistive Technologies Service Owner, EY.

4.00pm - 5.00pm (BST)

The future of workplace inclusion and key takeaways to help us drive change, together

Driving workplace inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. From leadership and DE&I teams, to Human Resources and individual employees - we all have a part to play. We can each make an impact. Together we can drive cultural change at work. In this roundtable, our panel will share their key advice for improving workplace inclusion. Discover small actions you can take that can lead to a big impact in improving the working world for all.

Speakers: Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum. Dan Harris, CEO, Neurodiversity in business. Marcia Brissett-Bailey, Cultural Perspective Committee - Chair, British Dyslexia Association.

Diane Lightfoot Dan Harris Marcia Brissett-Bailey headshots

We hope you can join us!