Neurodiverse people experience differences in the way their brain’s function, learn, and process information. These differences are typically seen as liabilities in the workplace. If neurodiverse people are hired, managers often feel the need to micro-manage them. But not only are neurological differences perfectly natural – they’re often assets. And by encouraging a neurodiverse environment, businesses can gain access to a number of hidden opportunities. In this article we’ll explore why employers need to embrace neurodiversity in the workplace.
- To access untapped talent
Roughly 70% of neurodivergent people are unemployed, representing a large untapped market of talent for employers to benefit from. This is amplified by the fact that neurodiverse people often bring value to the table as a result of their conditions.
Neurodivergent people think differently than most people. This allows them to provide fresh perspectives, insights, and solutions to problems that neurotypical people can’t. Some neurodivergent conditions also facilitate special skills, such as enhanced pattern recognition, memory, or mathematical abilities. By hiring more neurodiverse people, employers can broaden the variety of skills and thinking in the workforce.
- To uphold legal duties
Embracing neurodiversity isn’t just about hiring more neurodiverse people. It’s also about how you treat them after onboarding. Neurodiverse people think and often behave differently compared to most people. Because of this, they’re often subject to bullying, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace – all of which is against the law under the Equality Act 2010.
Under this act, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to protect their neurodiverse employees. In an unsupportive work environment, a culture can be fostered where abuse is tolerated or ignored.
When abuse of any kind is condoned in the workplace, the likelihood of incidents occurring increases, as does the risk of an abuse claim being filed. You can reduce this risk by creating a supportive and respectful environment in which employees feel safe and valued.
- To improve equality and diversity
It’s estimated that as many as 15% of the UK population is neurodivergent. With so many people falling into this category, this is simply too large a group of people to ignore. Yet this seems to be exactly what’s happening. According to data published by the Office for National Statistics, people with severe or specific learning disabilities have an employment rate of 26.2% and autistic people have an employment rate of 29% – the two lowest rates of all disability types. When it comes to making equality, diversity, and inclusion improvements, this is an area where employers can easily make huge strides forward.
Neurodiversity – a hidden opportunity
A working environment that celebrates differences harnesses a fuller range of talent, gives employees a sense of belonging, and takes greater ownership of ESG factors that are becoming increasingly important to stakeholders. Embrace neurodiversity, both during the recruitment process and after. Your business will be better for it.
Photo credits: Coworking London