Yesterday (August 4), Fareham MP Suella Braverman announced that she has scrapped diversity training schemes in her department in the belief that such programmes create ‘a sense of ‘otherness’’ by pitting ‘different groups against each other’.
Cora Burke, a Portsmouth-based consultant lawyer and neurodiversity coach, has labelled the attorney general’s views as ‘alarming’ and argues that diversity training is ‘vitally important’.
She said that Ms Braverman and other Conservative figures ‘seem to be taking aim at the statutory principles laid down in the Equality Act 2010’.
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Cora, also known as The Neurodistinguished Lawyer, said: ‘The Equality Act provides essential protection from discrimination, bullying, harassment and victimisation on the basis of nine clearly identified protected characteristics in society.
‘It provides clear guidance to those who have a duty towards those groups - including government.
‘Public Bodies have a higher obligation under the Equality Act.’
Cora pointed out that the Government Legal Department, like other legal professionals, are required to undertake ongoing training.
Ms Braverman, who was knocked out of the Conservative leadership race on July 14, called the ‘diversity, equality and inclusion’ sector a ‘new religion’, comparing those who subscribe to that line of thinking to the ‘witch-finders of the Middle Ages’.
However, Cora said: ‘This lack of awareness of both neurodiversity and the law causes many avoidable issues in the workplace which - if we must consider the matter - result in significant costs to the taxpayer, taking into consideration the costs of statutory sick pay and potentially follow-on social security claims, medical treatment required and potentially Employment Tribunals.
‘Thankfully, not all MPs share the attorney general's views.
‘In the current market, with a considerable talent shortage, smart people have realised that neurodivergent talent is desirable.
‘And that's another reason why diversity training is important.
‘We're not all cookie-cut copies of what Ms Braverman considers to be acceptable.’
As The Neurodistinguished Lawyer, Cora offers legal support for and by neurodivergent people.
Her team supports startups, charities and SMEs with robust and measured legal advice, and provides coaching, mentoring and other support to neurodivergent individuals who aspire to become leaders in business or enter the legal profession.