Workplace Allyship: Neurodiversity
The Neurodiversity Edition
Why you should be hiring more Neurodiverse people and how to be an ally to them in the workpace.
As an executive search agency specialising in placing talent into the creative industries, we are connected to, work with and place neurodiverse individuals who consistently push boundaries and inspire groundbreaking work.
Neurodiverse refers to the natural variation in neurological functioning and cognitive abilities among individuals
Neurodiversity recognises that people have different ways of processing information, experiencing the world, and interacting with others due to their unique neurological profiles
All in all, it promotes an inclusive and respectful approach that appreciates the strengths and perspectives of individuals with diverse neurological conditions, such as but not limited to; autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and others. It emphasises the importance of valuing and accommodating these differences rather than stigmatising them.
Taylor is a guru of all things social and content. She was one of the original team at Refinery29 in New York, worked for Amazon in London as Head of Content on their Private Labels before moving to Amsterdam with Edelmen and Hey Honey - she’s now expanding her own business, Tailored the Agency.
Having been diagnosed in her 30’s, Taylor talked us through her experience working within the creative world and how life would be so much easier if we all came with a crib sheet. She also gave some pointers about how to interview neurodiverse people and make the world a more harmonious place.
⭐️ Make sure to ask the candidate if they need any specific accommodations e.g. breaks, extra time.
⭐️ Be mindful of different communication styles
⭐️ People might perform better in an out of office environment
In recent years, there has been a notable rise in the visibility and acceptance of neurodiversity, driven by several influential factors. These include:
Advocacy and Activism: There has been a strong push from advocates and activists to promote equal rights and opportunities for neurodiverse individuals.
Advances in Neuroscience and Psychology: Scientific findings have provided evidence supporting the validity and value of neurological differences.
Cultural and Social Change: The cultural and social landscape has undergone a transformation, largely influenced by the younger generations, including Millennials and Gen Z.
Digital Connectivity and Social Media: Digital platforms have allowed for the sharing of personal stories, disseminating information, and connecting individuals globally, leading to increased visibility and understanding.
Cue the Neurodiversity Paradigm.
The neurodiversity paradigm promotes the idea that neurological differences are natural and valuable aspects of human diversity, akin to differences in ethnicity or sexual orientation. By shifting the focus from deficits to abilities, society can create an inclusive environment that supports the diverse needs of all individuals, regardless of their neurocognitive profiles.
Something worth mentioning here, is that neurodiverse individuals often face the challenge of being misdiagnosed due to the overlapping symptoms and difficulties in discerning the underlying causes.
This misdiagnosis can have profound consequences, as it obscures the true nature of their neurodivergent characteristics. In addition to this, misdiagnosis is known to be even more prevalent in women.
"Nearly 80% of women with autism are misdiagnosed – often with conditions such as borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, bipolar disorder and anxiety. It’s currently unknown how often women with ADHD are misdiagnosed."
As Taylor mentioned in the podcast, she was diagnosed when at 32 and she probably wouldn’t have been diagnosed if she hadn’t taken control.
"It did feel comforting having something to attribute certain behaviours to, because I think you carry a lot of shame with those behaviours and you’re like, why can’t I be normal?”
During a D&AD talk titled 'Neurodiversity and its Importance in the Workplace’, we had the opportunity to hear from Kim Lawrie, Head of Tech at House 337. Kim discusses the element of shame during her talk, “there is a scientific impact of shame and we should talk about that more.”
This links directly back to our conversation with Taylor, when she refers to her life, post-diagnosis.
“People were calling me weird,” she says, and “I felt like there was just something wrong with me”.
This is relevant because shame is a survival response in the brain that cuts off creativity. Kim explains further;
“The prefrontal cortex, where creativity and productivity are stored, goes completely dark when the part of the brain that stores shame gets activated. You scientifically cannot function when you’re ashamed, so you go into fight or flight mode.”
Kim goes on to share her personal experience of searching for a junior role in the tech industry and the disparity that she encountered. Out of the ten positions she applied for, she disclosed her autism in five applications and omitted it from the remaining five. Surprisingly, all five businesses that received her CV with the autism disclosure rejected her application, while she received interview invitations from all five companies where she did not disclose her autism.
In addition to this story, she shared that only 20% of autistic people are employed and of the 20% who do have jobs, 67% are unwilling to disclose that they are neurodiverse.
For some, sharing their diagnosis or condition can be empowering, as it allows them to advocate for necessary accommodations and support. But there is still a lot to be done in terms of businesses fostering more inclusive work environments.
With all this in mind, the main question is, how can businesses create a more inclusive environment for neurodiverse individuals?
⭐️ Develop clear policies
⭐️ Foster inclusivity in hiring
⭐️ Encourage open dialogues
⭐️ Provide relevant accommodations e.g. sensory-friendly spaces, flexible work options, mental health support, support networks
⭐️ Offer neurodiversity training and educate colleagues
⭐️ Embrace different communication styles and focus on abilities