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Neurodiversity and Inclusion: What you need to know

Is your company neurodiverse? Well, the short answer is yes! Nonetheless, your company might still be missing the mark when it comes to attracting neurodivergent candidates and building a neuro-inclusive workplace even if you have diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) practices and frameworks in place. In too many instances DE&I strategies fail to extend to neurodiversity hiring. Here are a few things you should know about this overlooked candidate pool and what you can do to be a more inclusive employer.

So, what exactly is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity refers to the individual differences in brain functioning that are regarded as normal variations within the human population. In other words, neurodiversity includes everyone. Within our neurodiverse population, a subset is considered neurodivergent, which is the term most frequently used to categorize specific profiles that “diverge" from those of the majority of the population, such as those with autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Tourette’s Syndrome, and other conditions.

Why should you care about hiring neurodivergent individuals?

The short answer is because they can do the job and often bring something extra to your workplace. Microsoft, EY, SAP, and other companies have their own specific neurodiversity hiring programs and are reporting tremendous success. JP Morgan Chase even goes so far as to state that neurodivergent employees make fewer errors and are 90 to 140 percent more productive than neurotypical* employees. In addition to performance and efficiencies, neurodivergent employees can enrich workplace culture by introducing new perspectives or ways of thinking.

What can you do to become a more neuro-inclusive employer? Here are just a few things to help you get started:

  1. Write your job descriptions using plain language. Cut the fluff by focusing only on what skills/knowledge are actually needed for the job.

    • Advertise your inclusiveness. Include a link to your diversity and inclusion policies in your job postings and review the language describing your commitment to hiring neurodivergent individuals and information on how to request accommodations.

  2. Provide an overview of your interview process and timeline.

    • No one likes not knowing what is happening or where they stand as a candidate. Having a simple overview of how many rounds of interviews, length of interview process, potential interviewers, etc. can allay any fears neurodivergent candidates may have about the process.

  3. Adjust your interview process by offering different ways to assess candidates’ skills, such as through written/technical assessments or practical exercises.

    • Neurodivergent candidates can sometimes struggle with navigating the social complexities of traditional interviewing processes, which leads to many being overlooked as a result. Assessments or skills tests allow neurodivergent individuals to be judged more fairly. Plus, they tend to be a better indicator of a candidate’s actual skill set, neurodivergent or not.

  4. Share your accommodations policies with ALL candidates and employees on a regular basis.

    • Your company probably already has employees who could benefit from simple workplace accommodations. Giving people natural openings to disclose their diagnosis can help to assuage any fears or anxiety they might have about timing.

If you are not looking for ways to tap into the neurodivergent talent pool, your competitors are. Don’t miss your chance to recruit great talent. Hire Autism, an autism-specific job board, allows employers to post jobs and connect with autistic candidates at no cost and can help with taking those first steps toward becoming a more neuro-inclusive company.

If you’re looking for other great resources on disability hiring or accommodations, check out the Job Accommodation Network and Employer Assistance and Resource Network.

*Neurotypical: an individual who isn’t neurodivergent


About Hire Autism:

Hire Autism is a free program of Organization for Autism Research (OAR), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, with the mission to improve employment opportunities for autistic individuals and help businesses create more inclusive workplaces.

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