The business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has never been more convincing. Progress in our understanding of neurodiversity and progressive social movements have changed how we treat neurodiversity in the workplace.
For profitability and equitability, supporting and nurturing those who are neurodiverse is the right move.
You'll have some questions if you’re unfamiliar with neurodivergence and changing employment laws.
This article exposes how we can embrace the concept of neurodiversity and how inclusion in workspaces fosters a healthy work relationships and productivity.
What is Neurodiversity?
The term "neurodiversity" is frequently used for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurological or developmental conditions like ADHD or learning disabilities.
In the late 1990s, Judy Singer, a sociologist with autism, first used the term "neurodiversity." It alludes to the idea that some developmental disorders are entirely normal brain variations. Additionally, those with these traits have some advantages.
For instance: time management may be difficult for those with ADHD, however, they exhibit high zeal, drive, and originality. Disability and neurodiversity are not the same things. However, those with neurodivergent traits might require accommodations at the office or in the classroom.
Neurodiversity also frequently refers to those who have:
- Autism Spectrum Condition
- Other learning conditions.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, neurodiversity is as follows:
- There are many different ways that people engage with and experience the world.
- There is no one "right" way to think or act.
- Differences are not viewed as deficiencies. Instead, they can bolster people and teams
Employers and industry leaders must support neurological diversity by advancing the inclusion and equity of neurological minorities.
How to Create a Neurodiverse Workplace
The neurodiversity movement has progressed toward gaining acceptance and understanding from its community in recent years. The potential of neurodiversity in the workplace, though, has yet to be thoroughly investigated by many employers.
Now is the right time to change that.
Instead of making employees adjust to the workplace, employers can design an adaptable workplace. Follow these five easy steps to support neurodiverse employees and applicants.
1. Educate Employees
Understanding neurodiversity is one of the biggest obstacles to having a neurodiverse workforce. In fact, understand that just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean you don’t already employ them. Employers can offer training on the fundamentals of neurodiversity, including understanding the spectrum of neurodiversity, communication styles, and dispelling myths and misconceptions to all employees and managers.
2. Foster Inclusive Recruiting and Hiring
Traditional hiring processes have hindered the recruitment of neurodiverse workers. This is where employers can make changes to project a welcoming workplace to people with neurodivergent traits. Accessibility.com suggests adjusting your expectations for interviews by focusing on specific skills and qualifications rather than a vague concept of “people skills” and avoid making assumptions about a candidate’s needs.
3. Offer Flexibility
It's critical to keep in mind that employees who are neurodivergent are still people. They can't easily be categorized into tidy boxes. Every workplace needs some structure, but employers should prepare to adapt when necessary. For instance, Mentra.me suggests flexible start times, providing written, concise instructions or offering closed captioning and recorded meetings.
4. Support Socializing Appropriately
Many neurodiverse people have trouble adjusting to or recovering from social interactions (especially those of us on the autism spectrum). That doesn't mean people with neurodiversity can't or won't socialize. However, American workplace culture places an excessively high value on workers' capacity to "fit in" socially. How often do we hear, “Oh, they just weren't a great fit.” Don't let a worker's advancement depend on how well they can interact with others; instead, consider what they can bring to your team and how well they can do their job.
5. Ask for help when needed!
Connecting with an expert is nothing to be ashamed of. HR professionals may need more knowledge or time to make significant changes. A truly inclusive environment that is advantageous to everyone can be created by bringing in an outside expert.
Why should I embrace DEI?
Creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace adds new perspectives, gives you access to a broader talent pool and leads to more innovation (CultureAmp.com). Don’t just take our word for it. Here are some well-known organizations that have embraced diversity, equity, and inclusion:
The extended interview process used by Microsoft's Neurodiversity Hiring Program is designed to support and educate neurodivergent candidates, by focusing on workability, interview prep, and skills assessment.
In 2017, IBM teamed up with the Specialisterne Foundation, a non-profit devoted to advancing neurodiversity in the workplace, to enhance its neurodiverse hiring. Since then, IBM has created the ND@IBM business resource group with over 1,400 participants.
JP Morgan Chase
The world's largest bank, JP Morgan Chase, offers two ways for neurodiverse talent to join their team. This company first collaborates with agencies and universities to match prospective hires with the appropriate position. Second, in 2022, JP Morgan hired a global head to their office of diversity and inclusion. This shows how committed the biggest bank in the United States is to removing barriers and enabling neurodiverse colleagues to enter the workforce.
What Can Your Company Do?
As we said at the beginning of this article, embracing neurodiversity in the workplace is not easy. In the end, your company could see increased profits and a more diverse workplace. Many resources are available to companies and workers, including the groundbreaking work done by Judy Singer, The Neurodiversity Hub, and the neurodiversity hiring programs of JP Morgan, IBM, and Microsoft.