Supporting and embracing neurodiversity at work
An estimated 1 in 7 people exhibit some form of neurological diversity. The types of neurodiversity an individual might possess and express include thinking styles on the autism spectrum, along with dyslexia and ADHD.
Rather than bracketing neurodiverse individuals based on ‘deficits’ and ‘disorders’, organisations are realising the benefits of employing people with different, often rare areas of strength—people who are extraordinary in both senses of the word. Greta Thunberg (Asperger’s), Simone Biles (ADHD), Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri (ASD) and Richard Branson (dyslexia) can all be considered neurodiverse. Ultimately, advancing neurodiversity at work means embracing the fact that we all think differently, and that’s no bad thing.
As of 2020, only 7% of global companies had a neurodiversity plan in place
Neurodiversity in Tech
Governments stand to gain around $50,000 per person by employing neurodiverse groups as tech workers
Positive assessment + appreciation
Building inclusive cultures for neurodivergent and neurotypical colleagues alike
Neurodiverse individuals may engage with the world in unique ways and express themselves through behaviours considered different (neurodivergent) to the wider (neurotypical) population. Often associated with a lack of social skills or emotional intelligence, neurodifference can also offer unparalleled excellence in problem solving, innovation and data analytics, the business benefits of which are manifold.
Neurodiverse talent is increasingly in demand in the tech sector, not least to close the skills gap. Plus, neurodiverse teams can also outperform their neurotypical counterparts. When Hewlett Packard Enterprise placed over 30 neurodiverse software testers in Australia’s Department of Human Services, the outcome was a 30% boost in productivity. At SAP, one neurodivergent employee was instrumental in a technical fix worth an estimated $40 million in savings.
Equity, belonging, respect
Recognising and respecting neurodiversity at work
By understanding the differences involved, neurodiverse individuals can be empowered, valued and given an environment in which they can thrive. Our Neuro-inclusion workshops build awareness around neurological diversity and the various ways it may manifest itself in individuals. They will also lay the foundations for inclusive practice among staff and managers.
Co-designed in line with your own EDI objectives, the workshops can cover:
- The organisational context for neurodiversity
- The business benefits of embracing neurodifference
- Attracting and retaining neurodiverse talent
- Making environmental adjustments for neurodiverse staff
- How to manage neurodiverse talent
- Ensuring your neurodiverse employees feel safe and included
Bridging gaps in understanding around neurodiversity
In 2020, research by the ILM highlighted a significant lack of understanding of neurodiversity in the workplace among key decision-makers, with half of leaders and managers unlikely to hire a neurodivergent employee. And while only 29% of neurotypical employees felt that staff behaved in a way that excluded their neurodivergent colleagues, this figure rises to 60% among autistic employees.
We work with organisations to counter traditional negativity and reticence around neurodiversity and to challenge the assumptions around the various ‘conditions’ it covers. The combination of different traits is unique to each person—it’s how we include neurodiverse individuals that is key to their success (and the business’s) as well as their sense of engagement and belonging at work.
What does neurodiversity mean?
Neurodiversity is an umbrella term that describes the variations in neurodevelopmental differences. Some groups included within the neurodiverse community are people with autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and ADHD.
The term emphasises the fact that these groups are not handling conditions that should be treated or corrected, but rather embraced as normal differences between people’s brain functions. Instead of trying to make everyone think in the same way, we should accept and understand each other’s unique ways of working.
What are the benefits of neurodiversity at work?
A good business wants people who have different areas of strength. Embracing neurodiversity at work means utilising the fact that we each have a different way of thinking — this allows companies to explore a diverse range of ideas, skills and creative input.
Beyond the benefits of hiring a diverse workforce that has a multitude of perspectives and experiences, neurodiverse people, in particular, hold a host of skills that businesses may find beneficial. For example, people on the autism spectrum are often exceptional at recognising patterns and rule-based thinking, while those with dyslexia have been found to have excellent spatial reasoning skills and creativity.
How can you support neurodiversity in the workplace?
In order to support neurodiversity in the workplace, you first need to get rid of bias. There are many stereotypes regarding neurodiverse people, and without tackling them in your hiring team, you may lose out on fantastic candidates. Having a conscious and active approach to discussing neurodiversity at work can also make your employees — both the neurotypical and neurodiverse ones — feel more comfortable and understand each other.
You should also consider that neurodiverse people may have specific requirements that will help them thrive, for example, a quieter environment free of distractions for those with ADHD. EW Group and Challenge Consultancy can help you come up with a plan to increase neurodiversity in your office.
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Dive deeper into diversity, equity and inclusion
Check out our range of posts, resources and thought leadership on EDI at work.
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