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Diversity is a source of wealth. Neurodiversity is not an exception, especially in the workplace.

Diversity is a source of wealth. Neurodiversity is not an exception, especially in the workplace.
Wednesday, 27 June 2018

The intertwining of our differences, perspectives, experiences, minds, and cultures make us original and one-of-a-kind in our daily life, as well as in our workplace. According to the evolutionary biologist Heying, the success of our species is advanced by the ways in which we’re different from each other. [1] Today as we speak of diversity, we are also increasingly hearing the term "Neurodiversity".

Coined in 1998 by an Australian sociologist named Judy Singer, neurodiversity is a term referring to the infinite variation in neurocognitive functioning within our species. It is like a framework that embraces the infinite variety of neurocognitive styles. The term include neurological development disorders (autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia, ADHD,..) which share common features, in particular differences in how people learn and process information. [2]

However, many still consider that neurodiversity is still overlooked in the workplaces. It is estimated that 80% of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder are unemployed, although many have high education and are eager to work. [3] It is no wonder, from the interview processes to decision making, most of our workplace environments are still not organized in an inclusive way—noisy group work, generally over stimulating settings, eye contact, etc.

But things seem to be getting better. Businesses are slowly moving through new inclusive and open minded perspectives, and the appreciation of the benefits of cognitive diversity has been on the rise. Big companies such as Ford Motor, DXC Technology, EY, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and SAP, launched last October the Autism@Work Employer Roundtable to share best hiring and workplace practices and to help other companies to invest in neurodiversity employment programs. [3]

And this investment is not in vain. According to different studies, companies embracing diversity and inclusion are better equipped to innovate and drive performance. Some interesting research from Harvard Business Review (HBR) backs up its value for a company: “a significant correlation between high cognitive diversity and high performance.”  [1] By enhancing neurodiversity we recognize that there are both great challenges and great benefits in bringing together people who approach things from different angles. In business, these multiple and diverse viewpoints can result in sprouting creativity capabilities and expanded problem-solving. [1]

At the same time, if you are hoping to take advantage of the creative capabilities and performance benefits of neurodiversity, make sure you are creating an environment to support it. Check out this link for tips on how to create an inclusive environment for interviews and make sure to do additional research upon hiring!

[1] https://bigthink.com/amway/dont-confuse-neurodiversity-with-cognitive-diversity
[2] https://autisticuk.org/neurodiversity/
[3] https://www.magzter.com/article/Business/Fortune/Where-Autistic-Workers-Thrive
[4] https://www.fastcompany.com/40421510/what-is-neurodiversity-and-why-companies-should-embrace-it