Written by Josh Musominari
One of the less frequently highlighted elements of recruitment is the topic of neurodiversity and the variety of personality traits that are seen across the population and their representation in the workforce.
Estimates suggest that over 15% of the UK population experience some form of neurodivergence and process information and function differently with some of the common conditions that fall into these criteria being Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders.
While these conditions are for the most part protected by employment legislation, individuals can find that there are barriers to entering the job market and research suggests that the vast majority of organisations don’t consider neurodiversity in their people management and recruitment process, but at what cost?
While there are challenges involved in making the necessary alterations to promote and support advancing neurodiversity there are real benefits to be considered. Some of the characteristics and natural abilities held by those with neurological conditions such as eidetic memory, enhanced numeric ability and pattern recognition can make them extremely skilled at some of the most complex tasks. Those that work in the fields of data and analytics or cyber security will tell you how valuable and important this skill set is, and how much of a skills gap there is within the labour market. Organisations can often find it difficult to navigate these market forces and the talent pool of candidates from neurodiverse backgrounds in this area tends to be underutilised. There is a huge opportunity to expand an organisations skillset if accessibility is adjusted to encourage engagement with these individuals.
Unique Perspectives and Creativity
In addition to the many different talents neurodiverse candidates can bring, the need to expand creativity and innovation has always been important and is often a catalyst to success and competitiveness in the marketplace. Many organisations can suffer from a groupthink mentality where diversity as a whole is not prioritised but in particular the unique perspectives that when brought forward can lead to serious improvements and positive changes when afforded the opportunity to add value.
One of the main reasons that neurodiverse candidates are underrepresented is the fears that this would require adjustments in the workplace and could lead to difficulty in integrating and managing these individuals. While this may be the case in extreme cases, it is often found that there are numerous individuals with these traits that are less pronounced already performing successfully and that these conditions can be more common than perceived. Additionally, with the opportunity for management and organisations as a whole having the opportunity to grow and expand skills in management and teamwork, there is a real opportunity to learn with and from neurodiverse employees.
There are numerous employers that have successfully implemented programs targeting neurodiversity to measurable benefit that extend beyond reputation. While there are challenges to implementing these programmes and adjusting one's recruitment practices to accommodate those that are not “neurotypical” the benefits and skillsets these individuals can bring can really benefit organisations and wider society as a whole.
We will be following this piece up with some of the discussions around how to make your recruitment more accessible and what you need to consider when recruiting for neurodiversity.