Singapore is not famed for being the most progressive of countries, and over the years there have been many times where I have felt the need to conform or hide aspects of myself. One aspect that I have always grappled with has been my neurodiverse traits – among them dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD – and the approach I take with disclosure. It can sometimes feel, especially at first, like a black and white choice between staying silent and being vocal. These days, I try to be a bit more nuanced in my approach, but always sincere.

Setting Boundaries

I’ve learned the hard way in Singapore; no one is setting boundaries for you if you don’t do it for yourself. Thankfully, I haven’t had to push hard at Baringa, where people are, by and large, respectful of the parameters I have set. I don’t usually feel a need to have to explain why I work in a certain way and people trust that I will provide quality work anyway.

My dyspraxia and ADHD mean that both energy levels and extended periods of focus can sometimes be in short supply - which makes management of them especially important. If I have important and time-sensitive projects, for example, I work from home instead of the office - to reduce distraction and toggling between tasks. 

Another priority is being kind to myself about when I start and knock off - to ensure I bring my full self and energy to the workplace. Early morning meetings are exceptionally draining for me, and usually result in me working at less than half my usual efficiency for the rest of the day. My colleagues are understanding on this front, and this has largely been respected during my time at Baringa.

At the end of the day, I know how I work best, and I see it as my own responsibility to make that known. But you still need two hands to clap, and Baringa has allowed me to operate on my own terms. 

Joining the neurodiversity network

Testament to Baringa’s commitment to inclusivity is the Neurodiversity Network, which I joined about half a year after I started. I think you would be hard pressed to find something like this in another company in Singapore. It’s still early days in the UK, and especially so in Singapore. I hope to implement some more UK-based initiatives here, this year.

Encouraging more conversations on neurodiversity

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about my own experiences and taking charge of my environment. But the truth is that this is not something that comes easy, and we should not put the onus on the individual to speak up all the time. Maybe they have had bad experiences in the past of being belittled for their perceived shortcomings. Maybe they are just not used to speaking up. I applaud Baringa for being accommodating, but conversations have almost always been initiated by me.

It is not an easy conversation at all for managers or advisors, especially when issues faced by the neurodiverse often have a direct impact on client work – typos in documents, lack of concentration, less awareness of social norms.

Not that we should start presuming that people are neurodiverse without being told first. But fostering an environment where line managers and advisors are given the tools to broach these issues sensitively would go a long way to help people feel safe. Safe, to open up about the challenges they face, without fear of repercussions. I’m excited to see how Baringa grows - as one of the more inclusive companies I’ve had the privilege to work in!

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