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Neurodivergent people can bring a great new way of thinking to business

As one of the newer terms in the disability sector, Neurodiversity is a skillset still greatly misunderstood by people. It is important to recognise the unique skills that people who are neurodiverse possess and why they can make great leaders in the workplace.

When people think of neurodivergence, they often jump straight to extreme examples of negative traits. Yet on the flip side, examples of successful people who are neurodivergent are seen as outliers. The truth is that the stigma around neurodivergence – especially ADHD, Autism, Tourette’s, and Dyslexia – is far from the reality. In the changes of thinking that workplaces are going through, it is vital to be an ally to and support neurodivergence. Further, the potential of neurodiverse thinking to have a great effect on leadership cannot be ignored.

Getting the job initially

In many instances, the first step begins with recruitment and “fit” in a business. Many employers engage in online testing to get an idea of the traits that someone has and to see how they might fit into a workplace. But the language and questions used are often written with standard thinking in mind. As such, many neurodivergent people face bias before even getting a foot in the door.
Instead, companies need to be more mindful of this and look to add to their business rather than have people fit. Being more open-minded will open the door for neurodiverse people to be part of the process and help inclusivity from the inside. A more diverse and open workplace will see your culture grow, rather than stagnate. Check out EmploymentHero for some great recruitment advice.

Supporting neurodiverse people in the workplace

Just because you have people employed doesn’t mean they are automatically happy. The support needs to be there for them as for anyone in the workplace. This can be as simple as removing jargon and commercial speak where possible. Simple communication is a key to the Virgin business, something which translates to customers as well. As a person with lived experience of dyslexia, Richard Branson ensured this was a key factor.

On the other end of the scale, having flexible support in place is important. These don’t have to be extreme or costly – simply accessible. People who are diverse may react to a smell, sound, or sight and just need to move. Sometimes, if the environment is temporarily changed in a big way, consider allowing remote work for a short period of time. There are no huge costs or changes, yet by being flexible differences can be accommodated.

BHP, Telstra and NAB are some of the Australian workplaces that have taken a great step forward in supporting current neurodiverse employees and also actively recruiting new neurodiverse employees.

Developing neurodiverse people in leadership roles

The next step from there is considering ways to evolve and expand a workplace through its leaders. In many places, the same ongoing problem of culture stems from constant traits. Instead, it is vital to have varied thinking in leadership roles.

This is where the true value of a well-supported ND person shines. Their often original, honest way of thinking can help break through groupthink. This is of extra value when it comes to helping to create a strong and inclusive culture in the workplace. The issue of discrimination against minority workplace groups of any sort is huge. But if a leader understands it, they will work to support a diverse and understanding culture. They will have empathy and a desire to make it better both now and in the future.

For a more in-depth look at ND people as leaders, check out this article from Fast Company.

We hope this helps improve your workplace and for any further advice, reach out!

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