Reaping the Rewards of a Diverse Workforce
2nd September, 2019
recruiting and retaining top tier talent has been a
long-term challenge for organisations
of all sizes, with in-demand staff becoming more
aware of their bargaining power as unemployment rates remain low.
This shifting dynamic is driving employers to
reassess how they can tap into the skill-set of an increasingly diverse
workforce, in particular those with
the modern workforce, most organisations pride themselves on having a diverse and inclusive workplace when it comes to age,
gender, sexuality and ethnicity. But the idea of a neurodiverse workplace is
still relatively new.
6.3 million people (around 10% of the UK population) have dyslexia, and people
with dyslexia often have other conditions, including dyscalculia (difficulties
with numbers), ADD (attention deficit disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit
types of hidden disabilities are now more understood and organisations are
growing acutely aware of the importance of ensuring work environments are
welcoming to neurodiverse staff.
are beginning to learn that they need the benefits that diversity can bring. For example, neurodiverse
individuals may not flourish in a traditional interview format, but they still have lots
to bring to the table, including the ability to approach problems from a
different angle and consider innovative solutions to business challenges.
Similarly, people on the dyslexia spectrum may be a good fit for
careers in creative industries, due to their unique strengths in interpreting
and visualising designs.
Autistic people, too, are usually disproportionately skilled in
data analysis and IT-related tasks, compared to their neurotypical counterparts.
Many high-profile businesspeople, politicians and celebrities have
spoken openly about their neurodiversity, such as Virgin Group founder Richard
Branson, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad,
HP co-founder William Hewlett and
filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
Prominent examples of neurodiverse individuals making their mark
on the C-suite and, in part, crediting their rise to the benefits of their
neurodiversity, clearly shows how alternative
thinking styles can make a real impact in business.
However, the full potential of neurodiverse people isn’t being
realised as a result of both structural and informal workplace barriers,
starting at the recruitment stage.
If you think of how organisations recruit staff, it can be
an unnecessarily complex process for neurodiverse job seekers. If you go onto
the vast majority of job websites they ask for a cover letter and CV, which
means a lot of writing and literacy skills will be required in this process.
speak to organisations
on how to better reach out to the large number of talented neurodiverse job
seekers, I always ask them, “Do you want a member of staff who is good at interviews
or one that is good at doing the job?”
For task-oriented jobs, like coding, it’s better
to have a practical interview, where
applicants are given a task to perform - demonstrating how they will actually do the work itself, rather than how
they can answer questions.
Once a neurodiverse candidate has been hired there can be issues
around managers not fully understanding what exactly Autism or Aspergers is and
how best to support staff who are neurodiverse.
Reasonable workplace adjustments, such as providing a screen reader
or noise cancelling headphones can drastically change the work environment for
neurodiverse people. Software, too, can be a key enabler.
I've spoken to many people who, because
of their neurodiversity, have had the glass ceiling imposed on them when
starting a new job.
But once they begin using the right software and tools, they start to climb the
corporate ladder. It's a small piece of software that
turns their career into a success story.
and inclusion are rapidly moving up the C-suite agenda, and what I would say to
organisations is, don’t be afraid of recruiting someone from a neurodiverse
background. They can bring a great strength and a real depth to your business
that you’ve never had before; this can enable your organisation to be more
productive, more creative and experience more success in the future.
Interested in learning more? Get Texthelp’s
comprehensive Unlocking Neurodiversity Guide for HR Professionals here.
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Louise McQuillan has been with Texthelp for six years; and as Workplace Solutions Manager she specialises in helping public and private sector organisations to support workforce wellbeing strategies, increase staff productivity and customer engagement.
Texthelp create smart, easy-to-use support technologies that help to create an inclusive working environment where everyone - including those with neurodiversities - can achieve their personal and professional goals. And, by removing communication barriers online to bring equal access to the web and facilitate self-service.
Learn more about how Louise can help your organisation, by contacting her on email: email@example.com or following her on twitter @TH_LouM.