M/SIX PARTNERS AMBITIOUS ABOUT AUTISM TO CHAMPION NEURODIVERSITY IN THE WORK PLACE

In 2018, m/SIX were the first media agency to launch an internship programme designed to actively champion neurodiversity and unlock the potential of young autistic adults. We still feel there is little meaningful action within neurodiversity, as the industry continues to make progress in areas such as gender, ethnicity and social mobility. The programme we devised alongside Ambitious About Autism was rewarding and inspirational for both the interns and the agency.

Our aim was to raise understanding and awareness of autism within the agency, as well as provide an opportunity for non-neurotypical talent to shine. UK CEO, Alistair MacCallum believed that if our own talent would gain a deeper professional experience managing more complex individuals it would ultimately help them be better leaders.

To kick off the process, we asked the whole agency which teams and individuals were interested in working and managing an intern for 3 months. Over 30% of the agency volunteered and training was carried out by a representative from Ambitious About Autism. Training was open for both those directly working with the individuals, as well as anyone else in the agency who expressed an interest. The training covered key themes such as how to flex your communication style and your management technique, and crucially, how to ensure our interns were treated in the same way as any other colleague. m/SIX employees were encouraged to be inquisitive with the interns, following their permission, allowing them to open up about the condition and their life and professional experiences.

The interns were fully integrated into the agency and all carried out roles in varying teams; Comms Planning, Performance Planning and Press Buying. They also followed a more flexible working routine, starting later in the morning, as commuting can often be challenging. The 3 interns formed a close friendship, learning to navigate the agency and enjoy their experience together.

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