April 18, 2023

Spotlighting Dallas Brogden, a TOC Support Engineer and Autism Advocate, for Autism Acceptance Month

Dallas Brogden (they/them) is a Technical Operations Center (TOC) Support  Engineer at The Weather Company, an IBM Business, where they deliver internal user support for TWCo’s development teams. They are passionate about learning and helping people, collaborating, and researching solutions on behalf of clients and colleagues. Dallas is enthusiastic about Neurodiversity, seeking out Autistic and other Neurodivergent candidates in the workforce, and educating companies on how to expand their policies to foster inclusion and deliver acceptance of Neurodivergent employees. 

How can we all be better allies in support of neurodivergent colleagues? 
Reach out and connect with advocates in the community and on social media because I guarantee you know people who are neurodivergent. 

Be an open person, share your desire to learn more about it, and be vocal about being accepting of people. Sometimes you have to meet people where they are. You can make yourself a person who is safe to be around by being a good listener and being open to learning about people’s life experiences. 

Consciously make space every day to be an ally. 

What training and resources does IBM offer its workforce? 

When I interviewed for my current position at IBM, the manager who interviewed me had training and materials from the company on interviewing neurodivergent candidates. That’s just one of many resources that we have available to us here. For training, we have Neurodiversity 101, a general foundational knowledge course. We also have specific training and resources for people managers and talent acquisition, including how to interview neurodivergent candidates. 

For example, if someone does disclose in an interview that they are neurodivergent, the interviewer knows not to count it as a mark against them if they don’t make direct eye contact, focusing more on their relevant skills as opposed to expected social interaction. As we move back to more in-person interviews, that is a challenge for some neurodivergent people. 

Why is it important to you to talk about Neurodiversity? 

I love talking to people about it because I think part of my story is I never thought I would have any shot at working for a company like IBM. 

With the difficulty that neurodivergent people can have transitioning through things, going through the re-deployment of my team here recently was extremely intimidating. But IBM has so many resources that they make available to us in terms of education, support, peer groups, and communities. 

It really is a whole culture here, and I jumped in with both feet. The ally education courses IBM offers, I just soaked up like a sponge. I connected with a lot of people on the company’s neurodivergent Slack channels because typing can sometimes be easier than speaking for me.

As I became more comfortable learning about who I am, I started to become more assertive and confident in sharing details about myself with colleagues.  I also want to do my part in fostering a healthy, safe work environment, which will help ensure the next generation feels comfortable at work. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to turn my life experiences into support for others as an advocate because not everyone knows what resources are available to them. 

There is definitely a long way to go, but I am always seeing improvements. Nat Lyckowski is my mentor and IBM’s Neurodiversity Global Advancement Leader. She works tirelessly on behalf of all neurodivergent IBMers.

To learn more about IBM’s efforts to create a more inclusive work environment, click here. To get involved this Autism Acceptance Month, more information is available at ASAN (Autistic Self Advocacy Network).