Womble Bond Dickinson celebrates neurodiversity with colourful Umbrella Project

International law firm promotes inclusivity and diversity with visual initiative

Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has taken a creative and colourful approach to mark Neurodiversity Celebration Week by launching its Neurodiversity Umbrella Project.

Across the firm’s UK offices, multi-coloured umbrellas have been set up to provide a visual representation and celebration of what neurodiversity is. The project is part of a national initiative by the ADHD Foundation, which WBD has supported by sourcing umbrellas.

Neurodiversity is an umbrella term that covers various neurological differences, such as Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia. Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes about neurological differences and aims to transform how neurodivergent individuals are perceived and supported.

Womble Bond Dickinson’s Umbrella Project is being led by the firm’s UK-wide Disability Network, which is made up of over 80 members, including six partner Champions. The Network proactively raises disability awareness throughout the year, positively contributes to policy development, drives change, promotes accessibility, and fosters a working environment based on mutual respect, inclusiveness and equal opportunities.

Michelle Essen, WBD Disability Network chair, highlighted that “around one in five people is neurodivergent, and yet there are still many misconceptions and a lack of understanding about what being neurodiverse means.”

Disability awareness

“Marking Neurodiversity Celebration Week with our eye-catchingUmbrella Project is about acknowledging that not all disability is visible, openly supporting and embracing those who think differently, and recognising the many talents and strengths of people who are neurodiverse.”

Jessica Tresham, partner and diversity and inclusion Board Sponsor at WBD, praised the support from their diversity and inclusion networks as well as their Board. She said: “We pride ourselves on our open and inclusive culture where differences are valued and celebrated.”

Tresham noted that the firm continues to build on what they have achieved so far, working with its networks and clients to drive positive change, not just in its firm but across the legal profession.

Significant milestones

Over the past few years, WBD’s diversity and inclusion networks have taken significant strides towards creating an inclusive working environment. This has included retaining its Disability Confident Employer accreditation and becoming a member of the Business Disability Forum. It has adopted the use of #CamelCase and introduced a reverse mentoring programme for senior leadership.

Womble Bond Dickinson has also been recognised by Stonewall as a Top 100 Employer in 2023 and received the Gold Award for being an LGBTQ+ inclusive employer.

Paul Stewart, UK managing partner at Womble Bond Dickinson, said: “Diversity and inclusion is a cornerstone of our business and values. Womble Bond Dickinson has an inclusive and progressive culture that nurtures equality, fairness and respect for all.

“Underpinned by our ongoing #beyourself campaign, our people feel empowered to bring their full selves to work in a firm that embraces difference and individuality.”

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