Neurodiversity: Bringing those on the autism spectrum deeper into the workplace

31 Dec

When people with different ways of thinking come together, diversity can produce better decisions overall.

Workplace diversity now includes people on the autism spectrum and employees with ADHD and dyslexia, according to Fortune magazine. In other words, the differences now include categories having to do with someone's brain. The new civil rights movement is calling for neurodiversity as a way to help people think differently at the workplace, and companies as large as Freddie Mac are taking notice and hiring more people whose brains operate in ways previously considered outside the norm.

Diversity in areas like this are important because people who want to work for companies typically cite diversity as something they care about, according to a study by Glassdoor, cited by Human Resources Executive Online. Fully two-thirds of 1,081 respondents said they consider diversity important, and the number increases when examining minority groups, such as women, African-Americans, Asians and Latinos. Even so, the majority of white respondents said they were concerned about diversity, as well.

The bottom line is that it's becoming increasingly important that those charged with human resource planning care about who they hire, whether this means hiring people from groups considered to be racial or ethnic minorities or people who are on the autism spectrum. The ultimate goal of a diversity program is to create a workplace where people can get along and think differently by virtue of having different backgrounds and perspectives. When everyone has a unique way of thinking, then the ideas that groups come up with will be stronger because of the joint effort of people getting involved. This is up-to and including people who are on the autism spectrum or have ADHD.

"We see differences in physical, cognitive, and mental health as differences in the human condition," said Lori Golden, abilities strategy leader for EY. "The most relevant challenge for business is to bring in the very best talent for the work we do and create an environment that can unleash the full abilities of every person."

The neurodiversity movement is just one of a continuing progression of movements designed to get everyone in the workplace operating together cooperatively. According to the study by Glassdoor reported by Human Resources Executive Online, people respond very positively to this way of doing things, choosing to work where they can enjoy working with a large number of different people, rather than cookie-cutter molds of the same sort of person.

Starting a diversity program
The best way to begin a diversity program is to start internally, according to HRE Online. The second way to work is by targeting specific talent pools or groups of people. The most important thing is really for everyone in the company to actually care about the project, however.

"It is very, very difficult for any important initiative to get traction if the head of the firm isn't behind it," said Corbette Doyle, a lecturer in organizational leadership at Vanderbilt University.

The benefits that come from things such as neurodiversity include a stronger workplace overall and a more attractive one to applicants.

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