“Neurodiversity may be the birthplace of some of humanity’s greatest minds.” –Harvey Blume
In any industry, prioritising a profound understanding of your team members as individuals is not just a choice; it’s an imperative. When we truly grasp how individuals prefer to work and communicate, we unlock the potential for increased productivity and a sense of belonging within teams. Without this knowledge, businesses are putting employee satisfaction and team synergy at risk.
In recent years, many businesses have made strides to protect, encourage and support individual differences. Company investment into DEI-related efforts, such as employee resource groups (ERGs), is estimated to reach $15 billion by 2026 – double the spending in 2020.
However, there is still significant progress to be made – especially when it comes to neurodiversity, and consequently, neuro-inclusivity.
Talent acquisition (TA) teams have a key role to play in advocating for neuro-inclusivity, striving to provide space for neuro-diverse individuals and ensuring their voices are heard and valued. These perspectives are crucial for business success.
Despite progress in recent years, more needs to be done to proactively offer different ways of working and communicating – and not just for neurotypical colleagues. That means enabling adjustments that remove any barriers that stop your team from performing to the best of their ability. This could include adjusting workspaces, providing tailored equipment and training or simply asking about people’s work environment preferences. The key is to never assume you know how people perform best.
As TA leaders, we are in the business of people. So, seeking to understand individual differences is at the heart of what we do, with the goal of empowering people to challenge and influence perspectives.
Neuro-inclusion from the start of the employee life cycle
Some of our neurodiverse colleagues say that over the years they have felt increasingly able to open up about the subject of neurodiversity in their job interview, but that is not everyone’s experience. Many candidates might be hesitant to check for any support or adjustments provided due to the fear of being underestimated, judged and, ultimately, rejected.
One solution is to evaluate the openness and representation of your interview panels. Without greater representation of different groups in your interview processes, it can be almost impossible for many candidates to imagine themselves in your business.
There is the fear of saying the wrong thing when it comes to the topic of neurodiversity – and around DEI in general – and that’s okay. Much of this caution comes from a natural ‘fear of messing up’ (FOMU) and causing offence. However, the main thing to realise is that showing commitment to consistently improving and asking questions is the only way to break down these barriers and open up honest conversations.
Nurturing an inclusive workplace is not a tick-box exercise. At Elements, we have tried to identify opportunities for us to learn and grow when it comes to our approach to DEI. We started by creating a neurodiversity advocates programme, where a team of our people were formally trained to support neurodivergent colleagues – with a focus on policy and HR. But as we listened and learnt, our plans evolved.
Initially, these dedicated individuals were titled “Neurodiversity First Aiders”, with the intention of creating a safe space for awareness, education and training. However, on talking to our teams, we were encouraged to revisit this language. It was important that this title highlighted the focus on championing the creation of an inclusive workplace, rather than providing ‘help’ for neuro-divergent individuals, leading us to land on the title of “Neurodiversity Advocates”.
While this may seem like a small thing, words matter. So, don’t be afraid to ask your teams, and get feedback.
Empowering future-proof talent acquisition
Forward-thinking TA teams keep inclusivity front-of-mind with everything they do. By nurturing a company culture that values individual voices and welcomes fresh perspectives, we will not only promote creativity and innovation but ensure each and every employee feels a genuine sense of belonging. Inclusion isn’t just about being present; it’s about feeling valued and at home within the team.
This blog series will continue to explore the five key pillars of future-proofed TA teams: