Around 10% of the UK population is in some way Neurodivergent, but most organisations aren’t taking advantage of the unique strengths they could provide

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According to a poll from the CIPD, only 1 in 10 organisations consider neurodiversity in their people management practices, this is despite 10% of the UK population being classed as neurodivergent.

Neurodiversity is the concept where neurological differences such as Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others, are recognised and respected as they relate to diversity and inclusion within the workforce. Neurodivergent people can have a variety of unique strengths, ranging from data-driven thinking to sustained focus over long periods, an ability to spot patterns and tends and the capacity to process information at extraordinary speeds.

Dr Jill Miller, Diversity and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD, said: “We’re just scratching the surface of understanding how neurodiversity at work can help organisations be more creative and innovative, but the insights we already do have show the unique value that neurodivergent individuals can bring to the workforce. However, even at a time when employers are under pressure to identify new talent pools to fill skills gaps, recruitment and development practices are screening out such individuals and the unique skills they possess. Rather than measuring potential employees against a long wish list of capabilities, we need to be clear on the key skills each job requires and enable people who possess those to play to their strengths.”

However, due to lack of awareness and focus in improving diversity and inclusion being directed elsewhere, most organisations are physically and structurally set up for ‘neurotypicals’, meaning neurodiverse employees are not able to perform to their full potential. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of HR professionals admitted neurodiversity was not considered in their people management practices and 17% were not aware of the term at all.

“Ultimately, everyone has the right to feel accepted and included at work and organisations have a responsibility to be a place where everyone can reach their potential. While workplace adjustments will be dependent on individual need, they are often small and inexpensive, and many actually benefit everyone. Why wouldn’t you want a more navigable intranet or clearer communications with your manager?” Miller adds.

Ed Thompson, CEO of Uptimize, said: “In the past, attention was solely on the challenges faced by neurodivergent individuals at work, but now leading employers are documenting the huge advantages of employing people who literally think differently. We believe that embracing neurodiversity can be a significant competitive advantage – organisations have the opportunity to leverage the skills of this high potential, available talent pool. Our guide can develop employer awareness and understanding of neurodiversity and provides practical suggestions to make your organisation neurodiversity smart.”

As a result, the CIPD, in collaboration with Uptimize, the leading provider of neurodiversity inclusion training, has developed a guide for employers to raise awareness and understanding of neurodiversity at work, and the simple workplace adjustments needed to enable people to perform at their best.