Celebrating neurodivergent women in business.

Celebrating neurodivergent women in business.

It’s International Women’s Day! This Friday 8 March is a day to celebrate a more equal world. It’s a day for coming together and imagining life without bias, stereotypes, or discrimination. The goal? A life full and rich with diversity, equity, and inclusivity. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

At E.ON Next, we proudly support this vision and pride ourselves in creating a working environment that embraces equality on every level. To celebrate our incredible and diverse Nexties this International Women’s Day, we spoke to Operations Manager Hayley Ball to hear how neurodiversity has strengthened and shaped her career at E.ON Next

Celebrating neurodivergent women in business.

“Working in a business that celebrates the strengths of being neurodivergent and a woman, to mark International Women’s Day, I wanted to talk about neurodiversity in women and how this has shaped my career at E.ON Next.

Neurodiverse brains think differently. While everyone's brain develops similarly, no two brains function alike. Being neurodivergent means having a brain that works differently from the average or “neurotypical” person. This may be differences in social preferences, ways of learning, ways of communicating and/or ways of perceiving the environment.

This also means that reactions and communication can often be misunderstood. I have always known that I was different but it’s often not something that others can understand easily. In a work environment I was often given the feedback that my communication style was ‘aggressive’ and ‘excitable’. I've been told in the past that 'women shouldn't behave that way if you want to be taken seriously'. I know that I’m not behaving in any particular way deliberately, I’m just different to the norm. 

I had always considered my communication style as passionate and strong. In my early career I didn't understand why I had to ‘make myself smaller’ when ‘passionate and strong’ personality traits were celebrated within others. I tried to fit into the box that working life thought I should be in, but I found myself questioning my abilities which affected my career development. The conflict I was feeling at work also played through into my home life and impacted my mental health.

Everything changed for me when I joined E.ON Next. I was celebrated for being brave enough to speak up. I was told not to make ‘myself smaller’ but to educate those around me. The company and colleagues actively encouraged me to use my ‘think differently’ for good. The mindset here at E.ON Next is not one collective brain all doing, and thinking the same. We all share the same goal, but how we individually mentally get there is a unique path for every Nextie. Becoming a strong woman who took up space in the room and disrupted the social norms helped me to inspire others to be brave and do the same. There is a phrase that I share when someone is made to feel ‘too much’… ‘go find less’.

My neurodivergence being embraced here has helped my career and communication style tremendously. I’ve helped to shape parts of our recruitment and leadership style so that we can now recognise the perceived quirks and superpowers of other women and use them in a positive way for the growth of the business.

The confidence that I have in my abilities and the impact on my career is because of the support from the strong and inspirational women that I work alongside daily at E.ON Next. I no longer feel different, or feel that I have to ‘change my way’ to succeed as a woman in business. I'm proud to be a neurodiverse woman working at E.ON Next.

The term neurodiversity covers a wide range of diagnosis, each and everyone is unique and follows a different path of treatment. My particular diagnosis of bipolar is not something that you would normally associate under this umbrella. However I experience swings in moods and behaviours and choose to take medication to stabilise them. This is not a fix though, it takes hard work, but I'm lucky enough to have the support of my peers and most importantly our partner charity Mind.

E.ON Next has a real focus on everyone's mental health, to support us and help us be proactive. A workshop from a professional counsellor, arranged with Mind, was offered to everyone. It was an educational and emotional session that gave some real insight into the range of conditions and circumstances that would impact a decline in someone's wellbeing. 

Being this open as a business not only helps me talk through what I need and how that impacts my role, it also takes away the stigma and helps people reach out for support quicker.”

Better together.

At E.ON Next, we’re so thrilled to be creating a place of work where everyone has purpose, and we can all support each other to learn and grow. Where everyone is welcome and respected. We’re especially proud of Hayley Ball and thank her for sharing her story. For us, Hayley’s journey shows that what we’re striving for is so worthwhile and already making a difference.

Last year we published our second inclusion report. Through using our data and listening to our colleagues, we've been able to deepen our understanding further and make even more positive improvements. We’re now ranked as the UK's eighth most inclusive employer. It’s so great to be creating a platform within the industry that truly gives everyone equal opportunities.

As part of our commitment to building towards an equal world, we’re so proud to support and celebrate International Women’s Day. As a large company, we face so many challenges every day. To help meet these, we absolutely depend on all our employees and their different skills, experiences, and perspectives. Throughout our business, we’re creating diverse teams to complement and get the best from each other. Diversity and Inclusion are essential foundations of our vision and values.

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Published 08/03/2024