Neurodiversity acknowledges that people experience and interact with the world in diverse ways. There is no single “right” way of thinking, learning, or behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits. This understanding is crucial for fostering inclusivity within organisations. The umbrella term generally includes those who identify with dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism, and ADHD. Although some widen the term to include conditions such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia and wider.
While awareness of neurodiversity is increasing, are businesses taking sufficient action to ensure that this often-overlooked group is not being left behind?
Depending on the definition and which statistics you look at, 15 per cent to 40 per cent of the population in the UK is considered to be ‘neurodivergent’. Yet, despite this significant portion of the population, the unemployment rate among neurodivergent individuals remains alarmingly high. As an example, according to the Office for National Statistics, only 29 per cent of unemployed autistic people who are eager to work are currently employed. This disparity highlights the urgent need for businesses to prioritise neurodiversity and create inclusive environments where all individuals have equal opportunities to thrive. This is a potential loss of creative thinking, and talent.
The other burgeoning need for companies to focus on inclusion for neurominorities, is that they are already in the workplace, and likely not experiencing the workplace in the way that might get the best from them. Businesses should strive to foster diverse cultures within their teams to encourage innovative thinking. Different perspectives lead to great ideas, and fostering an environment of excitement, passion, and innovation should be the goal.
A study conducted by Sparta Global revealed that 87 per cent of digital leaders believe neurodiversity will be a top priority for their companies in 2023. Sparta Global's survey of senior employees and C-suite executives in the UK found that only 21 per cent worked for businesses with recruitment practices tailored to neurodivergent candidates. This means that almost four in five companies have taken no action in this regard.
The survey also revealed that 83 per cent of neurodivergent employees reported feeling worried, nervous, and fearful about discussing their neurodiversity with their employers. Many feared negative repercussions on their career and believed there was insufficient support available within their organisations.