Superpowered by Neurodiversity

Mar 20, 2024 | Neurodiversity

IASME is a rapidly growing company that helps organisations of all sizes protect themselves against cyber attack. Our focus on support and protection for all also runs internally, with a culture of equity and well-being that makes IASME one of the most inclusive companies to work for in its sector.

IASME won the Diversity Award at the National Cyber Awards 2023 and diversity is found at all levels of the company, including senior managers. We are headed up by a female CEO and 50% of the company are women. 47% of employees identify as neurodivergent, and 28% of the team have a disability which is supported by flexible working practices.

A huge benefit of an inclusive work culture is that it fosters diversity of thought, different approaches to work, innovation, and creativity.

Dr. Emma Philpott MBE, CEO of The IASME Consortium says, “IASME aims to have a very diverse team because we truly believe that this is what makes our company successful. We benefit from the range of perspectives and skills and this allows us to innovate and deliver in a way we could not otherwise achieve”.

Flexible working practices means that those of us who identify as neurodivergent can work in a way that fits our needs, allowing us to take breaks, process information and re-charge.

Jonathan Ellwood was referred into the first cohort of the neurodiverse training scheme by the NHS in 2018. After the course finished, he so impressed the team, he was offered a job as a Cyber Security Analyst at IASME. Jonathan gradually increased his hours and become Head of the Knowledge Management team where he was responsible for developing new processes, services, business analysis and approved techniques and managing an empowered and diverse team. Jonathan is now Head of Cyber Incident Exercising and Response Level Two and the Assure Schemes.

He says, “There is loads of support at IASME.  Most importantly, they understand neurodiversity, which is half of the battle, and they engage with individuals to find out what works for them. IASME is happy to put in appropriate reasonable adjustments which can vary from person to person and very often those adjustments help everyone, regardless of diagnoses. I am allowed to spend time organising myself, which in turn means I help others and I have always been allowed to work flexibly in terms of hours and location.”

Poor experiences in education and current recruitment practices means that many neurodivergent people fall through the gaps. According to the National Autistic Society, 45% of neurodivergent people have lost or left their job because of challenges due to being misunderstood. Today, only 1 in 16 autistic adults are in full time employment.

The UK Cyber Security Forum (UKCSF) is a community interest company owned and operated as the social enterprise arm of IASME. IASME’s community projects are managed through the UK Cyber Security Forum and one of those projects has focused on training unemployed neurodivergent adults to fill roles in the cyber security industry.

Wendy Barker is Head of Community Projects at IASME and leads the scheme. She says, “Cyber security is an industry with a massive skills gap and also one that recognises and acknowledges its lack of diversity. Many neurodiverse individuals have a keen interest in this area of work but are not necessarily being recruited.”

14 trainees from the first cohort of the scheme joined IASME and embarked on cyber security careers. Since then, we have been proud to welcome many more of our trainees into the workforce at IASME. We believe our inclusive strategies have helped create a safe environment that allows neurodivergent people to step into the power of their differences.

Dr Emma Philpott says, “At IASME, nearly 50% of the company are neurodivergent and they are a major factor in our success. They force us to think differently. Thinking differently is how you innovate and become a market leader.”