Creative Differences: a guide to making neurodiverse-friendly workplaces

With ND people more than likely to have creative talents, a new handbook commissioned by Universal Music aims to help them thrive at work by teaching companies how to support them.

23 January 2020


Universal Music has published what it says is the first handbook for supporting neurodiversity in the creative industries. Designed by Manchester-based agency Music, the guide titled Creative Differences looks at the experiences of people with facets of neurodiversity (ND), including ASD, ADHD, Tourette’s, dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia, and uses them to advise companies on how to be more neurodiverse-friendly.

The book has been developed together with people with these conditions and experiences of working at a creative company, as well as key organisations working in the field of neurodiversity.

The handbook highlights that while almost all creative companies recognise the value of neurodiversity – with ND people more than likely to have creative talents – only very few have ND-friendly policies and practices. The book gives practical solutions for companies to change this, offering ways for them to make their recruitment, mentorship and career progression more accessible to ND people. For example, ND awareness education for all employees, flexibility around the job application and interview process, and a buddy system to help new recruits better understand unwritten social rules.

“We believe the best way to flourish in our ever-changing industry is to create a team that truly reflects the incredible diversity of our artist roster and society,” Universal Music UK CEO David Joseph says in a statement. “While progress has been made in many areas there has been little exploration around the importance of neurodiversity. We looked for a practical guide to help us do what was needed. When we couldn’t find one, we decided to create one and share it. Our overall conclusion is that making your organisation ND-friendly is to the benefit of your entire workforce. Everyone should feel comfortable in bringing their whole selves to work.”

On the design, Music’s senior creative Lowri Evans says it was vital the handbook was “easily understood and well designed for everyone,” using cream paper stock because it is “calmer to read from” and 12-point font, because it’s easier to read. The designers worked with illustrator Megan Rhiannon to bring the content to life in imagery peppered throughout the book.

Creative Differences was launched to over 100 invited organisations at an event at Universal Music’s London offices last week (17 January). You can download a free digital copy of the book here. The project also comprises a series of commissioned animations (below) created by Music, and a podcast, covering the topics in the handbook.

GalleryUniversal Music: Creative Differences handbook

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Universal Music: Creative Differences

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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