Guest writer Anne Collins – co-Founder and Director of NeuDICE – takes a reflective and critical look at inclusivity at business events.


Business world, we have a problem

Business as usual isn’t working. Let me rephrase that. Business as usual is working extremely well for a narrow sector of the diversity of people who are or could be founding, working in and being directors of social enterprises. For others, it is challenging to try to fit in and accommodate themselves to an alien way of thinking and doing.

The statement that business as usual isn’t working applies to the whole breadth and depth of activities and ways of thinking in the business world.  It matters because we live in an era of change. We live in a time where society needs the combined understanding and involvement of the broadest diversity of thinkers and doers in order to survive. This has not always been the case. In times when we know ‘A’ and ‘B’ and there is a clear path between them, we do not need diversity. Society can afford to exclude anyone who doesn’t fit the stereotypical business mould. We do not live in such times. Society and the business world cannot afford to continue with business as usual. We need to work together to find ways to reimagine doing business and being business people.

PSEN is already at the forefront of this. NeuDICE CIC is delighted to have been invited to work with them to advise and co-create solutions for one particular group who are often ideally suited to social enterprise. These are the neurodivergent thinkers, doers, lovers of social justice, visionaries and collaborators. We are not broken or defective but business as usual can break us; we are part of the diversity of humanity for which the business world is not designed.

Let’s think about networking, workshops, strategic meetings and public forums. We use them in the business world to gain visibility, contacts and credibility. In the world of social enterprise, we also use them to co-create ways forward for a stronger society. If we need a diversity of thinkers and doers in business and social enterprise, we need a diversity of people able to come as their whole selves to these events and participate on a level playing field.

If you want to include us in these activities, here are a few things to start you thinking.


We are not all the same. We certainly aren’t all white male graduates. A recent NeuDICE Living Lab session heard from an Asian Muslim woman who is a carer for disabled children. Her barriers were not the same as Anne’s – a white woman with a PhD and no dependents. At the NeuDICE launch, we didn’t think to provide the slide deck with descriptions and transcription in advance despite knowing someone with a visual impairment was coming.

Sensory environment

Acoustics, lighting, smells, textures, even air pressure can all impact our ability to focus or even remain in a space. Great hybrid meetings give us a chance to participate while controlling our sensory environment. Lockdown was a revelation for many of us as we found we could do a meeting a day rather than one meeting leading to two days of inability to work due to overload.

Thinking out loud

We need ways to capture ideas as we have them. We need space to think things through out loud. For in-person meetings, a paper tablecloth can take the place of the chat box for capturing ideas as they arise. Creating structured spaces for reflection and pairs or small group slows things down and deepens the conversations.

We can take longer to process information. If you want us for our contributions not just our presence, make sure we have that time. The easiest way is to tell us in advance of any questions or activities so we can do the thinking before we arrive in our own way.


Give opportunities for spoken, written and drawn contributions.

We may find it hard to know when it is our turn to speak, so create a structured approach and enforce it. One bit of business as usual that actually works is only contributing via the Chair and having a Chair who does a go-round allowing sufficient pause for each person to contribute rather than flicking their eyes round after asking if anyone else has anything to add.

You may need to turn standard written information into a set of colour-coded stickie notes, a mind map, a multimedia virtual white board (eg Miro) or bullet point lists to make it easier for them to process information.

I always check what style of email works better, if they want key facts in bold and whether I should put information in the body of an email or as an attachment.

Anne Collins – co-Founder and Director of NeuDICE


NeuDICE CIC chose Plymouth for its UK launch on 17th April 2023. Our mission is to open the business world to neurodivergent entrepreneurs. We provide consultancy, training, coaching and research services along with growing a UK-wide community and peer to peer support for entrepreneurs themselves.

Plymouth Social Enterprise Network