SHRLG Diversity Series: Session 1 – Diversity, Up Close & Personal – Neurodiversity


On Thursday 24th of February, the Scottish HR Leadership Group, in conjunction with Executive Search specialists FWB Park Brown, launched the first of the 2022 Diversity series with Sophie Dow, Founder and Trustee of Salvesen Mindroom Centre. Sophie discussed Neurodiversity along with her colleague Dinah Aitken, Head of Direct Help and Support.

The Diversity Series has been designed to challenge perceptions and will comprise of ten different stories over the course of the year and be held on the last Thursday of each month. We are also pleased to have Mandy Laurie of Burness Paull LLP joining each session to provide insight on the legal impacts of each discussion topic.

We live in a diverse world and only by exploring and ‘walking in others shoes’ can we begin to understand and appreciate our similarities and differences, and how diversity affects our working lives.

The session saw Sophie talk openly about her own personal experience with her daughter Annie. This led her to found the Salvesen Mindroom Centre with the aim of empowering children and adults living with learning difficulties. Their vision was to become an internationally recognised centre of excellence in neurodiversity to help create a world in which no one is left behind.

Sophie shared her experiences with neurodiversity and explained how each individual’s brain processes things in a unique way. This new term that we are now becoming more familiar with, provides us with an equal framework for understanding the differences between people. It provides a tool to help us highlight the positive qualities of those who are neurodiverse. Simply, what can the child or adult do, not what they can’t. Everyone has the right to a dignified life and like many of these topics, it is around creating awareness and helping to educate.

Sophie was proud to announce their next conference, EICC Live: Beautiful Brain, which will be a free public talk looking at the human brain as one of the of the great frontiers of scientific knowledge Huge strides have been made in our advancing knowledge of how our brains develop and work, but each new discovery raises a new question.

Through an interactive discussion with Sophie, Dinah and the audience, it was very apparent that there is lots of great work that Salvesen Mindroom Centre do with the University of Edinburgh, and it highlighted the opportunity for workplaces to learn and get involved here.

The gender gap was highlighted by acknowledging females are much better at hiding their emotions as clinicians say they are more focused on keeping a relationship than upsetting people. They will often sit at the back of a classroom and not question things. Studies show that in their early thirties they are more likely to seek help, resulting in far more ADHD diagnoses later in life which many individuals in the session appeared to have personally experienced.

Mandy Laurie ended the session by explaining the legal position and summarising that we are not fit for purpose in handling neurodiversity in the workplace. She highlighted that the only protection neurodiversity qualifies for is under the disability act, creating potentially negative connotations for individuals. There is a long way to go here. Questions around tackling anti-discrimination highlighted that we still need to push forward with a far more positive and inclusive agenda.

We look forward to seeing you at our future seminars over the course of the year.

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The charity partner for the SHRLG Diversity session is Salvesen Mindroom Centre, to learn more about the work they do please visit their website

To make a donation, please click here:

For further details on the Diversity series, or for more information on the Scottish HR Leadership Group, please contact Alix Meekison on

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It Takes All Kinds Of Minds (ITAKOM for short) – is the title of the big international conference that Salvesen Mindroom and Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre at Edinburgh University will be hosting at. Click on the below image for more information.

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