The importance of neurodiversity in your business

Look around you. One in seven people at least are neurodiverse. Do you work in a profession? Increase that number. There is not enough space in this article to cover each of these conditions and how they might affect you but, rest assured, if you feel that you are a bit different to other people or, more likely, you believe other people are very different to you, then you might be neurodiverse.

Neurodiversity and its effects on employment

If you are neurodiverse, you are more likely to be unemployed or unable to keep a job for sustained periods of time. You may think that is your fault. It might be, but it probably isn’t. Your places of work combined with the level of support you need just do not make the grade.

The world is built for the majority – neurotypicals can thrive. Your business may be in exactly that position. There may be no room for the neurodiverse and this is where your business can struggle.

When you put a neurodiverse person in a neurotypical environment, commonly they look like they are failing. Tasks do not get done on time, they can be a bit different in the way they deal with people, with bouts of emotion that seem to come from nowhere. They may shut down. They may speak in riddles.

Drivers of change and innovation

So why are neurodiverse people the most successful drivers of change and innovation in business history? Or in engineering? Or [fill in your profession here]… It does not make sense.

But it does. Give a neurodiverse person the remit and authority to change their environment to suit themselves and they can thrive.

They appear to be able to think outside of the box (we do not actually have a box but don’t tell anyone). They have a vision and a drive and passion that is difficult to replicate but can be contagious to their colleagues around them.

How can you make sure your business is neurodivergent friendly?

In an age where talent is so hard to come by, and business is subject to violent and disruptive change, my challenge is why would you not make sure your business is neurodivergent friendly? Your younger talent may be luckier and be diagnosed and know what they need for support. Your older talent may not be. So what should you do to ensure that you don’t miss out on the added value?

Written, clear instructions work best.

Start with your recruitment. Your advert should not be a list of neurotypical talent markers such as rigorous and timely task completion and ability to interpret instructions. Both are important to most roles but there are ways in which you can deliver instructions and assist with deadlines so you can reap the rewards of a creative thinker. Written, clear instructions work best.

Provide questions up front

When you are interviewing, always provide the questions up front. Interviews are not a test of answering questions (unless you are interviewing for a Mastermind contestant). Make sure the interviewer understands neurodiversity. Provide your team with flexibility as to how and when they can work. Provide noise cancelling headphones to those that want them. Never insist that people turn their cameras on in video meetings. Provide job coaching or mentorship as a standard.

Be accommodating

If you are not used to making such accommodations, it can look like a lot. If accommodations are not made, you will no doubt end up managing the neurodiversity out of your business. That takes a lot more time and misses the huge advantages someone with diverse thinking can bring to your organisation or the processes within it. And, of course, it is the lawful and right thing to do!

For further information, or to discuss your specific circumstances, please contact John Cullen, Business Recovery Partner and Head of Menzies Diversity and Inclusion team, or contact us via the form below:

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