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DIFF podcast: Neurodiversity needs to be embraced more in D&I – Morley

  • 18/06/2024
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DIFF podcast: Neurodiversity needs to be embraced more in D&I – Morley
Neurodiversity needs to be embraced more in the diversity and inclusion (D&I) movement, Metro Bank’s Charles Morley said.

Appearing on the Diversity and Inclusivity Finance Forum’s (DIFF’s) podcast for June, the bank’s director of distribution said he and fellow guest Adrian Vickery, head of operational support at Knight Frank Finance, were both “incredibly lucky” to have employers who understood the challenges they faced as parents caring for neurodiverse children. 

Morley has two children, Ellen and Harry. Harry was ill as a baby and had the majority of his right lung removed when he was still very young. When he was five, he was diagnosed with autism, and he is unlikely to ever live independently. 

Vickery’s daughter Tilly has auditory processing disorder (APD), and his son Charlie has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Tilly was diagnosed as a child, while Charlie’s diagnosis came when he was 16. 

Morley said neurodiversity tended to be the “lesser part of the D&I movement. It’s the bit [of D&I] that hasn’t got the impetus that others do have.” 

He said there had been progress with physical disabilities, particularly since the Paralympics, but said there was still a way to go with learning difficulties. 

“We need to embrace it more than we currently do,” Morley said. 

Vickery said this should start in schools, as ADHD kids are often seen as naughty. 

“It’s very difficult because some of them are invisible. And when it is an invisible disability, how do you know what they are? Is that person just being disruptive, or do they have an issue? You’re scared to ask, but you don’t want to offend,” he added. 


Being open about family circumstances 

Morley and Vickery both said their workplaces had always been supportive, but Vickery said the challenge he had with being open about his family life was internal. 

He added: “Over the years, I’ve grown with it, it’s okay to talk about it. I’ve become more vocal around, Charlie’s got ADHD and APD… and all of those, and just be open about it with people and not be afraid.” 

Vickery said it was also important to inform people of the challenges of dealing with someone who is vulnerable. 

Morley said he had to be upfront early on because his son was poorly as a baby. When Harry was diagnosed with autism when he was older, Morley was “just very open about it”. 

He said this was because he initially did not know how to cope with it, then went on a journey of discovery, and he learnt more from having a child with learning difficulties than anything else. 

Morley said being open about it did not harm his career, but possibly “did the complete opposite”. 

He added: “I think people saw a side of my nature they had never seen before. They all saw someone who was ambitious, loved to be on stage, loved to present… then all of a sudden, they saw a different side of my nature. 

“It’s probably a caring side, which people, particularly men, hide… it kind of changed the dynamic… as a result of that, I think colleagues might be much more open.” 

Morley said this helped him both individually and throughout his career as he did not have to hide any challenges happening at home. He said this also helped colleagues be more upfront about any family events they had to take care of. 

It also prompts people to go to Morley and share their similar experiences of having a child with autism, allowing him to give them advice. 

Vickery said he kept this quiet at first as he thought it would impact his chances of getting his current job. When he eventually shared this, he found there was “unbelievable acceptance”. 

He said from, that day onwards, he felt he could speak to his boss about any challenges. Vickery said he mirrored that with the people he worked with too. 

“If businesses do that, you get that loyalty [from employees],” he added. 


An enriched life 

Host Bharat Sagar said he noticed Morley spoke about his son with a visible “sheer sense of joy”, to which Morley said having a child with a learning difficulty had given him “an amazing life experience”. 

He spoke about how this transformed his perspective on certain things. 

Morley added: “I don’t know if any of you have seen the Sonic the Hedgehog films with Jim Carrey, they are absolutely dreadful, beyond dreadful, unless you go with a child who is obsessed by them. All of a sudden, you are in this cinematic joy of seeing the best piece of cinematography ever, because Harry from start to finish is just mesmerised. 

“It is the greatest film in the world because of the joy that child brings to it.” 

He said he and his son’s mother both left the film thinking it was a good experience because of Harry’s reaction to it. This resulted in Harry’s mum taking him to see it five times because he got more excited every time they saw it. 

Vickery said his children taught him so much about how to work with people. 

He said his son would not do what was asked of him, and in the last two years, there had been no arguments between them because he changed how he spoke to him. 

“I ask him, I explain to him. And what it’s done is it’s allowed him to keep control of his life because he wants control. He’s the one who had ADHD, not me. Tilly as well, she’s the one with the APD, she has the learning difficulty, she needs to be in control. 

“We’ve learnt to adapt and how we talk to each of them very differently.” 

He agreed that it made him a better person and said it helped him with how to communicate with people at work. 

Vickery said it also opened his mind up to how hard it must be for his children as well. 


Listen to or watch the full episode [41:03] hosted by Bharat Sagar, ambassador at large at AE3 Media, featuring guests Charles Morley, director of distribution at Metro Bank, and Adrian Vickery, head of operational support at Knight Frank Finance.


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