Neurodiversity concept. Multicolored figures of the brain on a dark surface.
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This article and checklist is reproduced from Econsultancy’s Neurodiversity and Digital Inclusion Best Practice Guide, authored by Rose Keen.

A note on scope:

The report does not cover all forms of inclusion and accessibility. It focuses on neurodiversity and ‘digital inclusion’, where the principles of accessibility are applied to digital experiences. The report recognises every neurodivergent person is an individual with unique experiences, however it does not cover every condition or requirement. It instead focuses on approaches which will have the broadest benefits.

Over the past few decades, there has been a rapid increase in the awareness of the value of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to an organisation – as well as to society as a whole. It is hard to calculate the full value of having a wider set of customers to sell a product to, and the broader benefits in terms of organisational resilience and innovation. However, it is such that brands are projected to spend $24.4bn by 2030 on diversity, equity, and inclusion related services.

Neurodiversity and neurodivergence are relatively new terms, having emerged in the 1990s. Neurodiversity is centred on the idea that differences are not viewed as deficits and there is no one correct way of thinking, learning or behaving. The term neurodivergent can include, but is not limited to, people with dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and autism, and is underpinned by the belief that cognitive variation is beneficial at a population level.

Research estimates that approximately 15–20% of the global population is neurodivergent. Despite this prevalence, the vast majority of DEI programmes overlook neurodivergence, with estimates suggesting that only 1 in 10 organisations specifically include neurodiversity within its DEI programmes.

A more inclusive approach to recruitment and employee experiences comes with a raft of advantages, from widening the candidate pool to allowing talented hires to do their best work. “To face an uncertain world, we need a varied and diverse set of brains around the table,” explains Pierre Escaich, Ubisoft’s Neurodiversity Talent Program Director.

Read Econsultancy’s Neurodiversity and Digital Inclusion Best Practice Guide for chapters on context and definitions; accessibility; inclusive hiring processes, job descriptions and interviews; awareness raising and training; inclusive ways of working; creating a safe and supportive environment; empowerment, promotion and development; measurement and reporting; as well as sections on inclusive customer experiences and the business case for inclusion.

A checklist for creating a more inclusive employee experience

  • Ensure the organisation is meeting its legal obligations around disability. Depending on the region, an organisation may have legal requirements as to what adjustments or support are available to employees.
  • Make inclusion for everyone, including neurodiverse talent, a pillar of the organisation’s broader talent strategy. Communicate this commitment both internally and externally. Incentivise engagement with the process by tying bonus schemes to DEI performance.
  • Ensure all employees are put through neurodiversity awareness and support training. This will help create a more positive working environment and reduce harmful misunderstandings or stereotypes.
  • Provide managers with specific coaching on how best to support neurodivergent talent and how to recognise the distinct value they bring to an organisation.
  • Review hiring practices to remove any potential barriers for marginalised candidates. This should include the way job descriptions are written, where jobs are advertised and the ways candidates are assessed. Consider moving to a skills-based hiring practice.
  • Be flexible. Simple adjustments to a working environment or pattern can support neurodivergent talent in being able to do their best work. In addition, resist imposing solutions. Changes or adjustments designed by the individuals affected will be more successful.
  • Start the conversation early. As part of hiring and onboarding, share the organisation’s commitment to creating a more inclusive working environment and detail what support is available.
  • Listen to your neurodivergent employees. Be open to and actively seek feedback around what is working and what could be improved.

All these steps will help create an environment of psychological safety and allow an organisation to benefit from the competitive advantages that come from having great minds that do not think alike within the organisation.