Neurodiversity as a Strength

5 minutes read
Four Ways that Organisations Can Be Neuro-Inclusive

Neurodiversity refers to the idea that people experience the world in different ways, focusing on not having only one correct way to think, learn, behave, or understand the world.

Neurodiversity can also be understood as a non-medical umbrella term that includes several neurological or developmental conditions, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit disorder (ADHD), Tourette's syndrome, dyslexia, and dyspraxia. We began to explore this trend in our latest World of Work Trends 2024, but we are taking another look at it as we recognise Neurodiversity Celebration Week.

Despite only just beginning to embrace the importance of DEI, many organisations are still not making a conscious effort to attract and retain neurodiverse talent. Organisations that are beginning to make a conscious effort to be neuro-inclusive will see that there are several tangible benefits to proactively including neurodiverse people in their organisation.  

In this article, we examine how organisations can be neuro-inclusive and maximise their people's potential while acknowledging some of the benefits of this work towards inclusion.

Download Now: World of Work Trends 2024

What Trends Do We See 

A positive trend we see worldwide in many leading organisations is that they increasingly recognise that their neurodiverse individuals can bring much-needed skills to the workplace. That is reliant on organisations making reasonable changes to support their neurodiverse staff and to promote inclusive employment opportunities where everyone is respected.

Around the world, Deloitte estimates that around 10% to 20% of the world's population is neurodiverse. Despite the significant size of the population being neurodiverse, there is a stigma that continues to mean that many neurodiverse people are not given a fair chance to be hired by organisations. In the United States, for example, it is estimated that the unemployment rate for neurodiverse employees is between 30 to 45%. That number increases when you look at individuals with autism, as it is estimated that around 85% are unemployed.

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The Benefits of Becoming Neuro-Inclusive

As people, we are all different, and as such, we have different abilities that come to us due to where we were born, our parents and several other factors. That is one of the positives of having a diverse workforce. It allows us to be more innovative as we all have different experiences and thoughts about the world, allowing this meeting of other people to lead to more innovation. That is also true when it comes to our understanding of neurodiverse people.

Some of the other benefits of hiring neurodiverse individuals include:

  • Increased productivity: research has shown that teams with neurodiverse professionals can be 30% more productive than those without. 
  • Increased engagement: Organisations that prioritise DEI are shown to have more engaged employees at work. As such, hiring neurodiverse employees can improve an employee's perception of their organisation's company culture and commitment to DEI, which then leads to increased engagement
  • Increased retention and talent attraction: Research has found that organisations run an autism hiring programme and report a 90% retention rate. That is likely due to the focus on inclusion efforts, which is also why it is believed that there is a positive relationship between this focus and talent attraction.

Read More: How Saint-Gobain, Capgemini and bioMerieux are Engaging Employees from a Human-Centric Perspective

Four Ways that Organisations Can Become Neuro-Inclusive

Education and Training for Employees

Organisations that want to include neurodiverse individuals should organise workshops, webinars, or seminars to educate all employees about neurodiversity in its various forms and the challenges associated with it while also highlighting the strengths of these individuals. Alongside these organisation-wide training, organisations should create specialised training for managers and leaders. This training should focus on how to recognise and accommodate the needs of neurodiverse employees, including effective communication strategies, management techniques, and conflict resolution approaches.

Create Mentorship and Support Networks

The inclusion of neurodiverse employees can be done in several ways; one that is effective is through personal one-on-one mentorship. Organisations can do this work by pairing neurodiverse employees with mentors who offer individual guidance, advice and encouragement to help the individual reach their career goals and needs. Managers should schedule regular check-in meetings between the mentor and their employee to ensure they have enough opportunities to ask questions and share their concerns in a supportive environment. It would also be beneficial for organisations to establish an employee resource group to gather feedback and insights.

Create Individualised Plans 

In the World of Work Trends 2024, we identified that many organisations are becoming more skills-based than job-driven as more jobs become flexible and fluid. If organisations are looking to become more neuro-inclusive, they should design roles for neurodiverse individual that are better aligned to their skills and interests rather than looking at more traditional job profiles.

Create a Culture of Openness

As we touched on earlier in the article, there is a negative stigma that is associated with neurodiverse conditions, and organisations looking to be neuro-inclusive should look to build a workplace environment that allows everyone to bring their authentic self to the office. That can be done by consciously avoiding 'othering' people and embracing the fact that we all think differently to each other. That is true whether we are neurodivergent or not. We all have unique world views and should embrace these differences rather than wanting everyone to think the same way.

Read More: Nurturing Talent: Retention Strategy Insights from BAT

Final Thoughts

Embracing neurodiversity is necessary. Organisations are becoming more neuro-inclusive, which is a positive thing, but it must not be a one-time effort. It takes time and needs to be consciously considered.


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Neurodiversity as a Strength

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