Scientists develop guide to help corporations welcome neurodiversity

Neurodivergent individuals may at times feel out of place in the workplace due to their differences, whether it be dyslexia or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The University of Chicago has now published a new report that offers practical recommendations for corporations to enhance neurodiversity inclusion within their work culture.

“Embracing neurodiversity is both the smart and the right thing to do,” says lead author Dr. Dana L. Ott, in a statement. “Employing and supporting neurodivergent people within organizations also means potentially gaining access to a variety of skills. These include, but are not limited to, unwavering focus and pattern recognition capabilities, excellent analytical and problem-solving abilities, and memory and mathematical skills.”

Dr. Ott starts off by explaining that the first step for employers is to actually get to know someone instead of just thinking they know all about them just by the condition that they possess. They should be accommodating and involved in the employee’s growth and comfort within their organization by asking them what changes they request be made to better support will their potential while still allowing their skills to shine.

According to Dr. Ott, employers should additionally strive for creating an environment that supports employee individualization from start to finish. This begins with the recruitment process, as how some companies choose to go about resume review and interview selection can put neurodivergent applicants at a disadvantage before a face-to-face interaction even occurs.

“Diversity is about visible and invisible uniqueness among individuals so we cannot use the same measures and ways of evaluating all potential employees,” explains Ott.

Lastly, she stresses that companies should prioritize creating a work culture that encourages neurodivergent employees to feel comfortable openly talking about their condition. They shouldn’t have to fear stigma or discrimination by colleagues or managers.

Dr. Ott concludes by explaining that her recommendations can be applied just about anywhere, regardless of company size. Although it may be easier for smaller companies to make progress in this way, it’s the job of all organizations to welcome diverse thoughts and personalities to their work. The employees deserve to have their skillsets acknowledged, but employers also miss out on tons of talent simply by lack of deviation from typical behavior and hiring processes that exclude a large set of people.

Researchers hope that this work marks the beginning of neurodivergent individuals gaining a larger seat at the table in discussions of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

This study is posted in the journal AIB Insights.

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About the Author

Shyla Cadogan

Shyla Cadogan is a DMV-Based Registered Dietitian. She is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in Nutrition and Food Science and has published research on food insecurity in Maryland. She holds specialized interests in integrative nutrition, hormone health, and gastrointestinal health.

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