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Is neurodiversity the next big thing in D&I?

Written on Jul 31, 2020

By Jasmine Abukar, M.A., OSCPA manager of diversity & inclusion

Many firms and companies have embraced diversity and inclusion initiatives as the right thing to do or a way to develop a competitive edge in the field. Oftentimes, these initiatives include employee resource groups, gender equity programs and strategic recruitment practices that focus on race and ethnicity.

Yet another dimension of diversity has been gaining attention lately: neurodiversity. Defined as “the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioral traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population,” the term, “neurodiversity” is often associated with the autism spectrum, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities. However, the term itself covers a wide range of differences in how people think and operate.

Companies have begun to embrace neurodiversity in various ways. Perhaps one of the most well-known examples of this is EY’s Neurodiversity Center of Excellence, which recruits, trains and hires candidates on the autism spectrum. EY reports that this initiative has sparked greater innovation, improved manager leadership, strengthened pride among employees and highlighted the firm’s purpose. Other companies, such as JP Morgan Chase, Deloitte and Microsoft have begun to change HR processes or create programs to create greater accessibility for neurodiverse applicants.

The Harvard Business Review offers practical tips for companies looking to hire and retain neurodiverse individuals, including partnering with social organizations, creating non-traditional and non-interview assessment processes and creating support systems. These actionable items do not just focus on diversifying the workforce, but also creating an inclusive environment.

Does your employer have a neurodiversity program? Tell us about it in the comments.

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