What does Neurodiversity mean?

Neurodiversity refers to the different ways the brain can work and interpret information. It highlights that people naturally think about things differently. We have different interests and motivations and are naturally better at some things and poorer at others.

It is estimated that around 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodivergent. This includes people with Autism, Asperger’s, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Epilepsy, ADHD, OCD to name a few.

What should your business be thinking about now?

Employment in the UK is at record levels and there are skills shortages across many sectors, efforts to attract and hire under-represented groups are now commonplace in many of the larger cities. One underrepresented group that hasn’t received this level of attention are those people that come under the heading of Neurodivergent.

It can be difficult knowing what to do or where to start when first considering how to better support neurodiversity within your workplace. You should ask yourselves some key questions that will help you identify what actions you can take to improve your workplaces.

Neurodiversity is a relatively new term that many people may not yet know much about. However, learning more about neurodiversity and taking steps to better support it in workplaces can be hugely beneficial for employers and employees alike.

How can you make your environment more inclusive?

Neurodivergence is fairly common, so believe it or not, most workplaces are already neurodiverse. It therefore makes sense for businesses to take steps that make their neurodivergent staff feel valued, part of the team and supported to contribute fully towards achieving the goals of the organisation.

The benefits of having a more inclusive workplace can:

  • highlight your commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • reduce the stigma around neurodivergence
  • make staff feel safe and empowered to disclose a neurodivergence
  • make it more likely that neurodivergent staff will be treated fairly by their managers and colleagues
  • open the organisation up to a pool of talent that may otherwise have been overlooked
  • help retain skilled staff and reduce recruitment costs.

Neurodivergent employees should feel supported and valued by you. Knowing what their rights and responsibilities are in the workplace can help to ensure that they are treated fairly.

What are the benefits of a neurodivergent workforce?

While some time and resource is needed to identify ways to minimise any potential difficulties, there are clear benefits to having employees who think differently. Positive attributes commonly associated with neurodivergent employees include:

  • creativity and innovation
  • lateral thinking
  • strategic analysis
  • bringing a ‘different perspective’
  • development of highly specialised skills
  • consistency in tasks once mastered.

Examples of businesses already adopting these ideas

Autotraderstarted to focus on Autism 2 years ago. In April this year they were the first business to win the “The National Autistic Society’s Autism Friendly” award. They see it as their social responsibility to reduce the employment gap.

Their barriers were the adjustments they needed to make and their fear of “getting it wrong” and also the cost.

As a business they decided that there were a few simple areas they could change to make their working environment more inclusive. They reviewed all policies and procedures, looking at recruitment and making physical changes:

  • Reducing clutter in the interview room and on walls
  • Giving the candidates interview questions in advance
  • Clearer signage in the building
  • Awareness training for front of house staff 

SAP Their commitment to diversity and inclusion plays an integral role in their success. As a global business with employees from more than 150 nationalities and from all walks of life, they know that for their company to perform at its best, their employees must feel free to be their authentic selves.

They embrace and encourage different perspectives and believe they are made stronger by their unique combination of culture, race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical or mental ability, and work-life situations.

  • They focus on Gender Diversity, Cross Generational diversity, Culture and Diversity as well as differently abled people.
  • They have more than 160 employees recruited via their Autism at Work program

Microsoft – They are all about Inclusive hiring for people with disabilities.

  • Disability Inclusion Program – Creating job opportunities for people with intellectual / developmental disabilities across the globe.
  • Supported Employment Program – they partner with a variety of recruitment agencies based locally to their offices.
  • Autism Hiring Program – They run a day / week event where they are able to focus on the candidate’s workability, projects and skills assessments – all of this will enable them to showcase their unique talents.
  • They have a disability hiring toolkit for all of their hiring managers, recruiters and HR professionals (educates them, looks at the correct etiquette and raises awareness)

Unless employers move away from hiring “people like us”, the strengths of Neurodivergent individuals will go unused and businesses will miss out on some amazing talent!!!