For many years, companies have been overlooking a key section of their Diversity, Equity & Inclusion policies: Neurodiverse Workers.
Science has shown no two brains are alike, and that means that each worker processes information, learns, and engages with their work in different ways. These neurological differences are just a part of the way the brain is wired to function. But these differences can be seen as an important part of the organizational growth strategy, allowing companies to harness each workers’ strengths and hidden talents.
There has never been a better moment or need for companies to consider the next phase in their DE&I and talent strategies. Talent scarcity accelerated transformations due to the global pandemic, the need for innovation, and new ways to solve increasingly complex problems, have created a perfect storm. We believe the next few years will be the years of fruition for neurodiverse talent.
When companies ignore neurodiverse workers, they are sending the message to all of their stakeholders that they don’t value those differences, and that those workers are deficient in some way. That’s why it is so important that organizations take another look at their DE&I policies to build a better work environment for everyone.
Companies that go the extra mile in their recruitment, development, and accommodation efforts can nurture neurodivergent workers and gain a competitive edge in their skills profiles, approaches to decision making, problem solving, and innovation.
Understanding neurodiversity in the world of work
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) policies are not just about people of color, race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and physical disability. Neurodiversity is included in those policies, too.
Neurodiversity commonly refers to the variation in human brain functioning, behavioral traits and preferences, such as learning, sociability, attention, mood, and other mental health conditions. However, like religious or philosophical preferences, neurodiversity is often less visible, making its identification or diagnosis challenging. A lack of awareness about this source of diversity often results in colleagues, leaders, or other professional collaborators not understanding the unique requirements and abilities of this population of talents – and ultimately, missing out on new ways of advancing the organization.
While estimates vary for different types of neurodiversity, including with age groups, regions, and geographies, it’s estimated that anywhere between 20% to 40% of the population is considered neurodivergent. That’s a significant number to go misunderstood, unappreciated, and underutilized.
Neurodiverse workers in the corporate world
Do you know many neurodiverse colleagues in your workplace? It’s possible that a number of your colleagues may be neurodivergent but may not feel comfortable bringing their full selves into work each day. In recent years, some business leaders have started identifying as neurodiverse – and/or making space for neurodiverse workers to flourish.