How Does Promoting Neurodiversity in the Workplace Offer a Competitive Advantage? 

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Growing evidence shows how promoting neurodiversity in the workplace gives companies a competitive advantage. But, in practice, few companies are investing in it. 

A joint report by Neurodiversity in Business and Birkbeck University entitledNeurodiversity at Work 2023’ revealed that employers rate the top strengths of their neurodiverse employees as creativity, hyperfocus, and innovative thinking.

Plus, evidence from Sparta Global’s ‘EqualTech Report 2023’, shows that attracting and retaining neuro-inclusive digital teams can lead to increased adaptability, imagination, and better computational thinking skills

Despite the benefits, the same report says around 80% of businesses aren’t taking steps to support their neurodiverse candidates in the recruitment process. So, with more work to do, we want to share the data that can help you understand the benefits of supporting neurodiversity in the workplace.  

Neurodiversity in the Workplace Statistics

Neurodiversity in the workplace refers to groups of workers who display a variety of thinking styles. And while there are business benefits to increased neurodiversity, there are also challenges to increasing the rates of diversity.  

  • Bank of America’s data shows 33% of the population is neurodivergent. 
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) experienced a 30% productivity gain from neurodiverse software-testing teams compared with non-neurodiverse teams.
  • The report by Neurodiversity in Business found 64.7% of neurodivergent survey respondents worried about stigma and discrimination from management.  
  • A Deloitte podcast estimated 85% of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder experience higher rates of unemployment compared with 4% of the general population.
  • Cisco’s John Chambers suggests 25% of CEOs are dyslexic.
  • Neurodiversity inclusion advocate Andrew Pfeiffer suggests 1 in 3 autistic adults is unemployed.

Key Benefits of Promoting Neurodiversity in the Workplace

With some data behind it, let’s highlight the key benefits of supporting neurodiversity in the workplace. 

  • Enhanced design: The report by Neurodiversity in Business suggests neurodivergent staff are more focused and creative. But they also have a better capacity for imagination. In practice, these attributes translate into enhanced visual design and creation capability. 
  • Solution-focused: Neurodiverse teams are more focused on problem-solving and can often spot opportunities for growth and business development.  
  • Data visualization: Neuro-inclusive teams show higher rates of productivity for data visualization and data analytics, according to the EqualTech report. 
  • Specialisms: Employers have an opportunity to create bespoke, specialist roles for neurodivergent staff based on their most beneficial skill sets.  
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Examples of Promoting Neurodiversity in the Workplace

There are many benefits to hiring neurodivergent employees. So what can you do in your business setting to make staff feel safe to disclose? Here are two examples to aid your thinking. 

JP Morgan

A key leader in supporting neurodiversity at work, JP Morgan launched their Autism at Work programme in 2015. Six months into the pilot, employees with autism worked 48% faster and were over 90% more productive than their peers. 

People with autism often show strong visual acuity, attention to detail, and a strong ability to focus. And JP Morgan optimised this potential by achieving 140 percent better productivity and 99% retention from the Autism at Work program. 

NTT – Nippon Telegraph and Telephone

NTT is a Japanese telecomms company in Tokyo. They introduced a new communications initiative called IOWN to improve connection and inclusion for neurodiverse staff. And they’re using OriHime-D robotic technology to facilitate more flexible and remote working patterns for staff with disabilities. By enabling seamless remote communication methods, NTT is offering an exciting way to normalise neurodiversity for individuals and their non-neurodivergent peers.

How Does Promoting Neurodiversity in the Workplace Offer a Competitive Advantage? , Caption.Ed
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Encourage Leadership to Accelerate Change

If you’re a diversity leader, there are steps you can take to accelerate change and improve rates of neurodiversity in the workplace. For example, the founder of the Valuable 500 Caroline Casey suggests gaining leadership buy-in is the most critical factor in influencing change. And the Valuable 500’s guiding principles reflect this: 

  • Inclusive Leaders – create inclusive business
  • Inclusive Business – creates inclusive society
  • Working together – accelerates and scales system impact

To start at the top and influence your leadership to think differently and neurodiversity, here are a handful of ways to consider.

Lead by Example

By disclosing and embracing their neurodivergence, C-Suite execs, and senior leadership can influence others to do the same. According to a review by the Valuable 500, only three C-suite level executives at FTSE 100 Index companies have a declared disability. But with the Bank of America suggesting over 30% of the workforce is neurodivergent, it seems very many aren’t coming forward to disclose their challenges.

Raise Awareness Beyond the Workplace

The Valuable 500 recommends companies aim for more transparency and inclusion when reporting to senior stakeholders. Committees such as steering groups, boards, and senior shareholders should be aware of the percentage of neurodivergent staff and the impact they have in the workplace.

Advocate for Change

Diversity leaders and DEI representatives should look to develop support networks for neurodivergent staff. Promoting inclusion can also include encouraging staff to use tools that promote inclusivity, like Caption.Ed. When non-neurodivergent staff members use these tools, it can normalise their use and reduce the stigma that neurodivergent staff can sense. 

Use Caption.Ed to Promote Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Caption.Ed is a high-performing assistive technology tool that transforms team performance and promotes better inclusion at all levels.

One way it does this is by reducing stigma when added to internal virtual meetings like Zoom or MS Teams. Adding captions and transcribing in-person meetings helps participants confirm what they’ve heard, but also supports better focus and concentration for neurodivergent staff with ADHD or autism, for example.   

Contact our team today to ask about how to use Caption.Ed to become more inclusive.

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