How Neurodiversity Can Strengthen Your Workforce

Embracing Neurodiversity in the workplace should be a top priority in your organization.

HERE'S WHY

Neurodiverse people often struggle to make it through the hiring process. At times, these highly qualified individuals simply don’t fit the profiles prospective employers look for in a “successful candidate.” But what employers don’t realize is that many of these individuals possess higher-than-average skills and abilities that could significantly contribute to the success of their organization. According to the Drexel University’s National Autism Indicators Report, 51% of Neurodiverse workers have skills higher than what their job requires. Yet, only 32% are in some kind of paid work. Which leaves more than three-quarters (77%) who are unemployed but want to work.” Businesses need to reform their hiring practices in order to be more inclusive and accessible to Neurodiverse talent. 

What is Neurodiversity?

The term neurodiversity, in reference to the workplace, is “the idea of inclusivity that extends to neurological differences, including hiring and retaining talent with neuro-variations such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia.” It was coined in 1998 by sociologist Judy Singer, who helped popularize the concept along with journalist Harvey Blume. Singer notes the human population has infinite neuro-cognitive variability, meaning each and every one of us has a unique combination of abilities and needs. 

Here are three ways to embrace Neurodiversity in the workplace:

  • Reform your hiring practices. It’s important for hiring managers to reframe what they consider to be a “good candidate.” This standard set of criteria can be biased and as a result tends to screen out neurodiverse people. Instead it can be helpful to draw on an individual’s skills and capabilities opposed to their behaviours.
  • Spark discussion. An important step to integrating neurodiversity into the workplace is to have open discussions about the topic. Take the time to better understand these individuals and how they interact and communicate. This might mean bringing in an expert to educate you and your team about neurodiversity.
  • Be inclusive. Neurodiverse employees may have different ways of working. Some of these accommodations might include noise-cancelling headphones, quiet rooms and subdued lighting all of which help to mitigate sensory overload. By providing these resources and being more flexible you will ensure that all your employees feel valued and supported at work.

GO DEEPER

Want more tips on how to support Neurodiversity in the workplace? Listen to our podcast, Neurodiversity and the Inclusion Revolution. You can also sign up for our bi-weekly Sunday Snippets newsletter to stay up to date on best practices for diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

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