How we support neuro-diversity in the workplace

Last edited on April 12, 2021

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    This past summer, we launched the Infinite Colors employee resource group, or CREWS (Cockroach Employees Who Support), at Cockroach Labs.

    What is Infinite Colors?

    Infinite Colors is an employee-driven initiative to raise awareness and share resources about the challenges and opportunities of neurodiversity in the workplace.

    By neurodiversity, we refer to the variations in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood and other mental functions in a non-pathological sense. It encompasses at least, but is not limited to, traits over-represented in ADHD, autism, dyscalculia ("numbers"), dyslexia ("words"), dyspraxia/DCD ("movement/coordination"), mood disorders and Tourette's syndrome. Note that folks often experience neurodiversity without being formally diagnosed, sometimes without even being aware of the existence of possible labels.

    How does Infinite Colors support its mission?

    1. Dialogue: Towards its awareness goal, our group members facilitate respectful conversation and lift taboos around neuro-atypical traits and behaviors. This allows us to better support our neuro-diverse members and colleagues. Our members agreed to share their perspectives on how having a community for neurodiversity has made them feel welcomed, accepted, and comfortable with masking less:

    1. Knowing that there is this type of space is very reassuring. It feels like a place where I can be open about who I am. -Senior Product Designer

    2. This is the first place I have worked at where this is a topic that is OK to talk about. Companies typically make space for visible handicaps or differences, but we have invisible differences too! It was important to me to see the company acknowledge this explicitly by promoting the [Infinite Colors] CREWS group. I felt this was the first time I could be accepted for who I am. -Senior Staff, Product Management

    2. Resources: Infinite Colors also maintains a corporate library of resources that includes guides and tips on how to optimize one's workplace, develop positive work relationships, advocate for one's diversity, avoid burnout, and guide peers and managers towards understanding and accommodation. We feel that the opportunity to develop and socialize these resources with the broader team fosters greater recognition of neurodiversity and vital support strategies.

    3. Advocacy: Infinite Colors also receives executive sponsorship from Peter Mattis, CTO of Cockroach Labs, and some of our members have senior roles in the organization. Through their support, Infinite Colors has been able to make an impact on both the daily experience of the staff and the organization's processes.

    For example, resources are being developed for managers on how to best coach, support and supervise reports in the context of neurodiversity. Infinite Colors' mission and resources are now also introduced to every new hire. Our corporate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion project teams also actively seek input and insights from our members!

    What’s next?

    Infinite Colors already accompanies Roacher throughout their tenure at Cockroach Labs. Eventually, we expect to share our mission and materials with more people, as we want to encourage more neurodiverse folks to join us.