Failure to understand how to support neurodiversity in the workplace can make it difficult for neurodivergent candidates to find work. It is three times the unemployment rate for a person and eight times the unemployment rate for adults without disabilities. Also, according to ONS data, the employment rate for people with autism is 29%, which is lower than the employment rate for people with disabilities with other types of disabilities.
Neurodiversity describes brain differences that cause differences in thinking, learning, processing, and behavior in some people. Some conditions fall under the umbrella of neurodiversity. People with these conditions are often described as “neurodiverse.” These conditions include attention deficit disorder, autism, dyslexia, and ataxia. Neurodivergents may have different strengths and struggles compared to neurotypes.
“The biggest disability is disability discrimination,” said Nathan Chung, who is openly autistic with ADHD and has won multiple awards for advocating for diversity and inclusion. He also hosts the NeuroSec podcast, writes the NeuroSec newsletter, and amplifies the voice of Neurodiversity. “Organizations often see people with disabilities as a negative and a burden, focusing on what they can’t do instead of what they can do. The script needs to be flipped.”
Marissa Borzykowski is Chief Staff of the Spectrum Designs Foundation, a custom apparel and promotional items business with a social mission to create meaningful and inclusive employment opportunities for people with autism. Borzykowski agrees that there are misconceptions about neurodiverse employees in the workplace. “Some see it as unproductive, anti-social, and with poor quality control, but these beliefs aren’t far from the truth,” she said.
While there is a growing commitment to recruit this untapped talent pool, some companies are still struggling with how to get the best executives for this. Below are recruiting experts, Applied’s CEO, his Khyati Sundaram, Borzykowski, and Chung.
How to recruit neurodivergent talent
Make your job ads inclusive: Sundaram suggests that job ads should inform candidates about the role in question. But for some neurodiverse candidates, it can be the first hurdle in the application process.
Chong agrees. “Eliminate words that negate neurodivergent, such as ‘team player’ and ‘good communication skills,'” he suggests.
Also, for dyslexic candidates, for example, words in job advertisements and application forms may move around the page or appear inverted, making the information more difficult to process and digest. .
To make your job ad more inclusive, make it available in wide, easy-to-read fonts such as Arial, Comic Sans, Verdana, and Century Gothic in sizes 12-14. It’s also helpful to consider the readability of the language you’re using. Hard-to-read sheet music, for example, is readily available online. Simple, straightforward language with easy-to-read fonts benefits everyone and helps more candidates feel comfortable working with the information you present.
Consider restructuring your interview process: ““The way we conduct interviews is from back to front,” Sundaram said. You are expected to participate in a brief, unstructured telephone interview, including: Designed to assess “cultural fit”. These two stages leave room for unconscious bias. They tell employers little about a candidate’s skill set, but can put candidates with different communication styles, career gaps, or different employment histories at a disadvantage.
For example, test takers with autism often understand language literally and may have difficulty understanding rhythms, inflections, and colloquialisms on the phone. Also, the phone interview screening process runs the risk of excluding people with unusual communication styles. Once this process element is removed, another hurdle is removed so neurodivergent candidates can work their way through it and play to their strengths.
“Our interview process is very flexible and depends on the candidate and the job,” explains Borzykowski. “Depending on the job seeker, we may conduct phone calls, Zooms, in-person interviews, written assessments, or in-person training sessions. We take a strengths-based approach to all applicants and engage people where they are. We will meet in as many ways as possible.”
Chung also recommends that employers provide accommodation to facilitate the interview process. Examples include obtaining interview questions in advance to reduce anxiety, conducting online interviews instead of face-to-face, reducing the number of interviewers, and providing breaks.
Use the “working sample” test. When hiring for neurodiversity, instead of using phone interviews and resumes, employers should instead use “work sample” tests to assess candidates. It involves asking candidates to complete role-specific tasks designed to test the set. A job sample is a more accurate predictor of performance than an interview or resume, and can fairly judge all candidates on merit and skills alone.
“Too often, the interview is a ballroom dance, a nightmare for neurodiverse job seekers who struggle with social interaction,” Chung said. “Instead, have job seekers demonstrate their skills by drawing solutions on whiteboards, preparing presentations, or demonstrating how to perform specific tasks. Better.”
Make the interview process inclusive: “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to how people want to be evaluated and interviewed. As such, it can be difficult to accommodate all needs. The best thing you can do to support neurodiverse candidates is figure out which parts of the hiring process are most triggering and offer alternatives where possible.
“For example,” says Sundaram. “Suppose you tend to offer a group ‘interview date’ where many candidates are asked to attend. In that case, you might place candidates who struggle to process information on the fly, or who find large group scenarios too stimulating or difficult to follow. Social cues – a disadvantage. If public presentation is not a required skill for your advertising role, do not make it part of the interview process. Make the option available to those who wish to show off their skills in another way. ”
Preventing “cultural fit” questions by using a “structured” interview, where all candidates are asked the same set of questions in an interview, is an effective way to ensure that all candidates have a chance to shine during the interview process. is an excellent way to equalize
Ask for feedback: “One of the best ways to find ways to improve the way you do things to be more inclusive is to ask people who have gone through it,” Sundaram advises. Recently applied to a role with you – and use it to identify your blind spots and assess areas of improvement that could be implemented during your next hire. ”
Matching the right people with the right jobs
There are many reasons to consider hiring neurodiverse individuals. A 2018 study by Accenture, AAPD, and Disability found that companies that hired neurodiverse people had 28% higher revenue, twice the net profit, and 30% higher revenue compared to other companies in the same sample. It turns out that we have achieved an economic rate of return.
“Neurodivergent workers are amazing,” said Chung. These are competitive advantages that can propel your team or organization forward. ”
And research supports this. According to various studies, an autistic consultant finds, on average, 10% more bugs in her than her non-autistic colleagues when checking software her code for errors.
Borzykowski said: “Diversity across the workforce is a proven asset for both employees and employers. As we at Spectrum like to say, ‘Great minds don’t always think the same way.’ “
As for Chung’s advice to other neurodiverse people looking for work, “Many neurodiverse people try to hide who they are to appear normal. If we cannot accept who we are, how can we expect others to accept us? It will make job hunting and interviewing easier.People will be amazed.”