Occupation: Founder & Managing Director of Partners with Industry Community Interest Company
Open to be:
I’m passionate about eliminating social barriers for people with neurodiversity, with the aim to create a more diverse and efficient workforce.
Partners for Industry is a community interest company that champions neurodiversity (such as ADHD, autism and dyslexia) by using innovation and technical development as a vehicle to promote change, raise awareness and educate people.
One of my biggest frustrations is that, to solve a lot of the world’s biggest problems, we need clever minds – yet for some reason, industry creates barriers to neurodiverse people from solving these problems. We have a massive talent pool out there, and yet we seem to have a shortage of people who know how to use programmable logic controllers, for example. We have loads of neurodiverse people able to programme but they are prevented from doing so due to factors such as social mobility and disability – so that’s where I come in.
I’m driven by the inequalities. I’ve been thinking about creating a business for several years, and I was made redundant just before Christmas. But, having dyslexia myself, as I started doing the job search, it suddenly struck me just how hard it is for a neurodiverse individual. It got me thinking – what is it like for someone who doesn’t like to talk on the phone? How are they going to get a job? From my experience, there are people with absolutely amazing skills who just wouldn’t be able to get these roles – not because of talent, but social barriers.
My company are thus currently working with Ambitious about Autism to help train and support employers to take on neurodiverse employees for these roles.
My advice to a neurodiverse person facing similar challenges is: Go and find something you’re passionate about. Listen to advice, but decide whether or not the advice is appropriate for you. You’ve got to learn to adapt. You’ve got to acknowledge your weaknesses and then work to fill your weaknesses – but always make sure you work to your strengths.
The biggest thing I would say to anyone is don’t give up. You’re going to take the knocks, it’s going to be difficult, sometimes you’re going to wake up and think ‘why am I doing this?’ but don’t give up. Take your successes and your failures together.
You can read our interview with Richard in full here and find out more about his business on our Innovation Tracker here.