Recruitment and Neurodiversity

Recruitment and neurodiversity

When I read statistics that say just 16% of autistic adults are in full-time paid employment, and that this figure hasn’t remained static for almost a decade, I often wonder what more organisations can do to bridge this gap. How can we make improvements to get more neurodiverse talent into the workforce?

Clear untapped potential

At Lexxic I work with people with a neurodiverse condition in the workplace, such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Conditionsn(ASC) and Cognitive Functioning Difficulties. We provide support to individuals to maximise their strengths and provide practical solutions to line managers to enhance the value individuals can bring.

Having worked with these individuals, I can see clear untapped potential that employers are missing out on. Neurodiverse individuals bring amazing talents and skills to a team. People with ASC are found to be analytical and have high levels of attention to detail – an ability to focus on detailed tasks for long periods. They are excellent at identifying patterns in large volumes of data – they possess higher than average visual and cognitive pattern recognition. ADHD individuals can see innovative ways of tackling problems and are good at project work. Dyslexic individuals are creative and innovative thinkers, with strong verbal communication skills and excel at problem solving.

Some organisations have identified this and are gaining a competitive advantage by recruiting people with ASC. Microsoft, for example, launched a programme in 2015 called the ‘Inclusive Hiring for People with Disabilities’ campaign specifically to hire people with autism. What stood out for me about Microsoft’s campaign was Corporate Vice President of Worldwide Operations, Mary Ellen Smith’s words: “Microsoft is stronger when we expand opportunity and we have a diverse workforce that represents our customers. People with autism bring strengths that we need.” So what can other organisations do to make their teams more neurodiverse?

It starts with recruitment.

The language used in job adverts can sometimes contain information that is largely irrelevant to the role and can deter neurodiverse candidates away. For example, a job role may have a person specification profile to be a “a good communicator” when that is often not a core element of the role. A neurodiverse candidate may be perfect for the role, but unnecessary language on the need to be a good communicator may deter them. This unnecessarily reduces the talent pool for recruiters. It is important for employers to recognise that for the core role, a neurodiverse individual can match, or even surpass, the requirements, but may need reasonable adjustments or support with other competencies.

Another point to consider is ensuring that job application forms and other written material are in an easy to read format, such as size 12 font and Arial. Colour contrasting the text onto a background that is not black text on a white background can make words appear a lot clearer.

What about the application process?

You also need to consider how the application process fits in with the actual job. If the candidate is required to pass an assessment and one of the assessments is to produce a written report from materials provided. This task may measure a certain competency, but in the actual job, when do we not use our computers and laptops to write reports? Does this give an accurate reflection of the persons skill to perform in the job?

Interviews can also be an area where organisations can improve on. They can ensure that the interviewer or interviewing panel is trained in best practice where they have an awareness of neurodiversity, so that they can make the necessary accommodations for the individual. Our e-learning platform Neurotalent Unlocked has some great CPD accredited courses on neurodiversity which is a great way to raise awareness in line with the digital working world that most organisations are aspiring to.

Just a few small adjustments to processes and approaches to recruitment could make a very big difference to the type of talent your organisation attracts. I’d love to hear your thoughts and please do share what has worked within your organisations to make your teams more diverse.

Aidan Healy