In a departure from our usual work in the arts and cultural sector, we’ve appreciated the opportunity to work with black-led CIC – The Diverse Creative – to interrogate how blackness intersects with disability in the workplace.
What we learned was that the impacts of ‘race’ and neurodivergence combined and intersected in sometimes surprising ways according to context. We learned also that gender and social class can often be in the mix.
On the basis of the interviews conducted for this research, it feels as if racism, ableism and sexism are shape shifters whose impacts manifest differently at different points in people’s careers. For one woman, for example, being a woman became problematic at the point at which she had a child. Others noted that job segregation became most apparent at senior levels in organisations; black people (and, to an extent, women) gradually become invisible at the most senior levels.
The research was conducted in a spirit of collaboration and joint endeavour. The work was conceived by The Diverse Creative – a black-led CIC whose role is to support, campaign and advise on issues of neurodivergence, wider disability issues and employment. The research was itself funded by a black-led organisation – Black Thrive Lambeth – which was established in 2016 to address the inequalities that impact on the mental health and wellbeing of black people in Lambeth.
The approach was not without its challenges. It required of all the collaborators a commitment to ongoing, respectful communication; a shared understanding of the value that each partner brought to the project; and a preparedness to candidly and respectfully confront issues as they arose rather than waiting for them to become problematic. Underpinned by these principles, we believe that the collaboration as a whole was greater than the sum of its parts.
For the full report, please follow this link.