Collaborate with IWFM to launch our Neurodiversity Network


  • EDI

21 December 2023

Diversity and Inclusion.jpg

“Neurodiverse people, despite possessing extraordinary talents, struggle to find jobs in FM where they can thrive and build their careers,” states Chris Barnes of Pareto FM and IWFM’s EDI Focus Group. 

To provide better support, IWFM has been working closely with Chris to establish a Neurodiversity Network. The goal is to provide a safe space for neurodivergent people to be themselves, share experiences with others and get advice on how to navigate a career in FM. If you are a neurodiverse IWFM member who would like the opportunity to connect and keep updated on our progress, please express your interest by emailing [email protected].   

There are large numbers of neurodiverse individuals and they bring a myriad of benefits to organisations. While adaption is needed from FM organisations to help neurodiverse individuals build careers, their skillsets can materially bolster competencies within organisations and perspectives allow for new, fresh ways of looking at challenges. 

But, as Chris explains, being neurodiverse in the working world isn’t always easy. Many neurodivergent people ‘mask’ their behaviours to fit in better in the workplace, but fitting in often means using valuable energy that could be better used elsewhere. People need support networks, neurodiverse role models, and individual accommodations so that they can reach their fullest potential. 

We believe that FM is uniquely placed for neurodiverse people to thrive. FM covers a wide area and is ever-changing, and while change can be difficult to navigate if you’re neurodiverse, Chris observes that the way he deals with these challenges stays the same.  

Being neurodiverse means not always seeing issues and opportunities through the same lens as other people, and the nature of FM means that there’s always a need for new perspectives. As has been documented in prior research, diversity of thought creates new avenues and strategies that may not have been previously considered. 

Commenting on the news, Chris said: “The establishment of this network would provide a secure space for individuals to share their lived experiences, demonstrating how we can collectively contribute to creating a welcoming and supportive environment in FM. Our aim is to foster an atmosphere where everyone can flourish and, ideally, encourage the next generation to join the industry.” 

Sofie Hooper, IWFM’s Head of Policy and Research, added: “We have made a public commitment to drive equity, diversity and inclusion within IWFM, the membership and the wider profession. By providing a network for neurodiverse people to share their experiences and guidance to progress in their career, we can practice what we preach and help our wider community to thrive. We have seen the positive impact this has had in other areas of our community such as Women in FM, Risings and the Veterans Network. We’re committed to representing neurodivergent people and their allies.” 

IWFM needs to know that there’s sufficient interest from our membership to make this network a reality. If you’re interested in engaging, please email [email protected].   

We look forward to making the Neurodiversity Network a reality and making a difference for our community.