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Topic: Spectrum Success: Elevating Workplace Culture Through Autism Inclusion


The Honourable Kamel Khera, Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities

Nadira Badri, Verification Officer, CIBC

Heather Linka, Neurodiversity Employment Consultant

Carole Mendonca, National Leader, Deloitte Accessibility

Maja Djikic, Associate Professor & Executive Director, Self Development Lab, Rotman School of Management (moderator)



Join the Rotman School and Spectrum Works (powered by Substance Cares) this Autism Acceptance Month for an insightful panel delving into the successful integration of autism into workplace diversity strategies. Discover how engaging the autistic community can be a catalyst for building innovative and successful teams. Our discussion will focus on creating meaningful policies and programs for corporations and government to engage the autistic community. Panelists will share strategies to bridge hiring gaps, enhance workplace culture, and support divergent thinking. Uncover and remove unintended workplace barriers, and thrive by integration people with autism into your organization.

This event is tailored for professionals at all levels, including hiring managers and HR professionals. Featuring insightful speakers, including Canada’s Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities Kamel Khera and experts with firsthand experience in navigating employment with autism and building successful onboarding programs, the panel aims to empower professionals to become champions of autism in the workplace. Join us in fostering a future of inclusivity and success.

About our Speakers:

The Honourable Kamal Khera was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Brampton West in 2015. She has previously served as Minister of Seniors, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, and as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health. Minister Khera is one of the youngest women ever elected to Parliament. A registered nurse, community volunteer, and political activist, she is passionate about improving the lives of those around her. Prior to entering politics, she worked as a registered nurse in the oncology unit at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto, where she gained a deeper understanding of the issues that impact people’s health and well-being every day. During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, she went back to her roots as a registered nurse to volunteer at a hard-hit long-term care facility in her hometown of Brampton. Minister Khera continued to help on the front lines throughout the pandemic, including by administering vaccines in her community. Truly believing that diversity is our strength, Minister Khera is motivated to create a better present and future for all Canadians.

Nadira Badri came to Toronto, Ontario in September 2016 shortly after finishing an Animation Program at New Brunswick Community College. Her first job in Toronto was as a Chess Teacher with the Chess N’ Math Association. In early 2017, Nadira Badri joined a Ready, Willing & Able program organized by the Geneva Centre for Autism. A few months into the program, she was hired as a Salad Prep Chef for one of Toronto’s oldest running restaurants, United Bakers Dairy Restaurant, where she worked for 3 years and held 2 other positions: busser and kitchen help. Through a friend, she became acquainted with another group geared towards helping Autistic individuals, Ian Martin, and through them, took on a part-time job as an Ezone Coordinator with Enbridge. Over the course of several months, Nadira juggled these part-time jobs in Toronto before Covid threatened the city. Within a year of Covid, in 2021, Nadira joined an online job fair and found a group geared toward helping neurodivergent individuals, Specialisterne, which offered training sessions for positions in CIBC, including Nadira’s current role as a Verification Officer. August 2024 will mark a 3rd-year milestone for Nadira working with CIBC, where she brought over lessons she had learned as a Salad Prep Chef and an Ezone Coordinator: honesty, integrity, and care for fellow colleagues. Nadira continues to strive to be her best and work hard for her future.

Heather Linka is a consultant, job coach, educator and a forever student in the neurodiversity employment support field. Heather is based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She has been working in this field since 2016 in a variety of settings, including social enterprise, federal and provincial programs, talent and consulting agencies and nonprofits. In these positions, Heather provides education and awareness sessions, consulting about neuroinclusive hiring and other HR practices, and coaching to neurodivergent business professionals, hiring managers, recruiters, etc. Heather spends time volunteering with other neurodivergent support groups as well as her local Pride LGBTQ2S+ Society. Heather is currently completing a Human Resources Management and Leadership diploma to increase consulting ability in the neuroinclusion support field.

Carole Mendonca is Deloitte’s National Accessibility Leader and co-authored Deloitte Canada’s AccessAbility Action Plan. In her role, Carole is responsible for overseeing the Accessibility team, AccessAbility Employee Resource Group and the execution of Deloitte’s Accessibility strategy and action plan. She co-founded Deloitte’s Accessibility client service offerings in Canada to assist provincial and federal organizations with the development of their accessibility strategy, action plans and consultations with people with disabilities and neurodivergent people. Carole has over a decade of experience working in the private and nonprofit sector specializing in management consulting, program development, community investment, risk management, compliance and stakeholder engagement. Carole has a Bachelors of Honors in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Carleton University, a graduate diploma in Inclusion and Leadership and holds an active designation in Accessibility from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP). Paired with a business mindset and a strong passion for accessibility, disability inclusion and neurodiversity, she is committed to furthering positive change and creating a stronger future for all.

Maja Djikic is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management and the Executive Director of the Self-Development Laboratory at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. She is a psychologist specializing in the field of personality development. Her work examines means of developing a congruent and flexible self. She has been a post-doctoral fellow with Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking at Rotman School of Management, and Psychology Department at Harvard University. She has published more than 30 articles and book chapters in the area of personality development in journals such as Psychological Science, Journal of Research in Personality, Creativity Research Journal, New Ideas in Psychology, etc. Her research has been featured in the New York Times, Salon, Slate, Scientific American Mind, and many other media outlets.

Event Logistics:

This event is available to attend via livestream only.

Rotman Events is committed to accessibility for all people. If you have any access needs or if there are any ways we can support your full participation in this session, please email Megan Murphy [] no later than 2 weeks in advance of the event and we will be glad to work with you to make the appropriate arrangements.