Neurodiversity is a framework that embraces a variety of brain makeups. It understands that not everyone is the same and instead of outcasting certain brain disorders, it embraces them for their unique strengths. Workplaces today are built around neuro-typical people for example, eye contact is important and offices can have several over-stimulating features. The impetus for encouraging neurodiversity is that, not only are neurodiverse people underserved in the workplace but they are overlooked.
The business case for neurodiversity in the workplace
A few months ago, Yahoo announced it's Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group (ERG) to help neurodiverse individuals be open about their strengths and challenges and get their needs accommodated in the workplace. The ERG was started by Margaux Joffe, Yahoo’s head of production, global marketing department, who also has ADHD and founded The Kaleidoscope Society for women with ADHD. In her interview with Jenara Nuremberg for Fast Company she states, "This goes way beyond the personal, and there is absolutely a business case for embracing neurodiversity at work...Many times, the only thing holding us back is thinking we need to work like others. Build on your strengths and be fearless. This goes for everyone.”
Entrepreneur and writer Nick Walker agrees about the importance of embracing differences at work. Walker, in his blog about being autistic,states, “The greater the diversity of the pool of available minds, the greater the diversity of perspectives, talents, and ways of thinking–and thus the greater the probability of generating an original insight, solution, or creative contribution.”
The point is, by only empowering a certain type of person to have a voice, you are excluding the possible genius of another. By simply making a few amendments in the workplace you can embrace neurodiversity.
How to make your business embrace neurodiversity
- Educate HR and workers on neurodiversity, if you want to be more inclusive you need to gain an understanding of how others work.
- Incorporate flexible working. For some neurodiverse individuals the over-stimulating workplace crushes their ability to be successful - give them the option of working from a quieter space or from home.
- Use roles that rely less on linear thinking. More creative roles can produce better results for the company and the employee.
- Make mental health challenges habitual by holding regular support circles on wellbeing, self-esteem, diversity, boundaries, and communication.