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  • Liezel Kuhn Keyser

Embracing equity, diversity and inclusion as a small charity

CASPA is a small charity in Bromley that encourages autistic pride and supports its members to have fun, learn life skills, and make safe and inclusive community connections. Here, CASPA’s head of HR, development and training, Liezel Kuhn Keyser, shares tips and insights to support your charity’s equity, diversity and inclusion efforts.


CASPA's staff and volunteers wave their arms in the air in celebration. They wear black T-shirts displaying their names and pronouns.
A few members of CASPA's staff team and volunteers. Photo credit: Fields of Growth Photography

At CASPA, our vision is to build a society in which autistic individuals feel supported, understood and empowered to be their full selves and to live their best life.


We provide clubs and activities, residentials, life skills sessions, and an online community for autistic individuals, as well as outreach services and support to families. We also promote understanding and inclusion through our training programme and campaigns. We aim to remove barriers to access and to promote self-advocacy in the decisions that affect autistic individuals’ lives.


Embrace exceptions


Autistic individuals process the world differently and may not engage with colleagues or approach and perform their work in a typical or expected way. This could lead to misunderstandings or unrealistic expectations. The usual organisational rules and processes might not apply or be fit for purpose in all cases, and a unique approach might be required to fit the circumstances.


As an HR professional working in the charity and specifically the disability support sector, I believe in taking a person-centred approach to employment law and practices. There are very few employment practices that can’t be reasonably adapted for more effective outcomes whilst still complying with the law.


Invite challenge


Neurodiverse staff bring exceptional personalities, skills and a unique perspective to your organisation that sometimes challenges the ways things have always been done. I see this as a positive factor for organisational growth and development.


Creating the psychological safety needed for staff to offer open and honest feedback challenges organisations to look at new and different ways of engaging with their staff and volunteers.


Autistic individuals who feel safe, understood and accepted in their environment tend to feel more confident to express their need for certain adjustments, share alternative ideas for ways of working, and offer creative solutions to workplace challenges that others haven’t thought of.


Dare to do things differently


Allowing for exceptions, being open to challenge and brave enough to make changes provides an opportunity for organisations to disrupt practices that are no longer, or have never really been, fit for purpose.


When organisations embrace neurodiversity and implement workplace adaptations for autistic individuals, this often benefits their colleagues too and improves organisational culture. This approach also increases an organisation’s overall resilience and improves its ability to navigate and adapt to change. 


Keep information clear and focused


On a brief practical note, given the limitations of the post, a key lesson I learned as an HR professional is to keep it simple and keep working at streamlining processes and information to improve accessibility.


This can be achieved by using clear and concise language, reducing sentence and paragraph lengths, and using visuals in instructions.


Only including what is useful and necessary addresses some of the barriers autistic individuals face when processing visual and auditory information.


CASPA is happy to work with other small charities to improve your autism inclusion practices. For support, please email: HR@caspabromley.org.uk


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