Neurodiversity describes the full spectra of human differences in the way that information is reasoned with and interpreted. Neurodivergency on the other hand describes the 15-20% of people where some of these cognitive processes differ from the majority population. To date, neurodivergency is commonly labelled with neurodevelopmental conditions such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), Autism, Dyslexia, among many others.
Most organisations now recognise the distinct abilities neurodivergent individuals can bring to the workplace and therefore support the business case for neurodiversity inclusion. However, despite the efforts to increase representation of neurodiverse talent across their workforce, there still appears to be substantial inequity in the way neurodivergent individuals experience opportunities for meaningful stable work or career advancement in comparison to their neurotypical peers.
It’s fair to say the practice of neurodiversity inclusion has not caught up with the efforts put forward by advocates and researchers promoting neurodiversity at work. Researchers argue that diversity is not delivered to the extent intended and we need to go beyond just diversity management. This means making cultural shifts which create a sense of belonging for all individuals in each diversity group making up your workforce. For example, the recent UK government-backed Parker Review highlights the need to supplement diversity efforts, asserting such efforts would work better when the human imperative is addressed alongside the economic imperative. This means combining diversity management with inclusion management practices across the full employment lifecycle. For instance, introducing employee sustainability management strategies that result in opportunities for neurodivergent individuals so they can thrive and progress alongside their neurotypical counterparts. Otherwise, companies will continue to face low retention and high turnover of neurodivergent talent.
Understandably neurodiversity inclusion (or neuroinclusion) is not a straightforward task. While there is a lot of information available, it is not always clear how this can be translated into actions that successfully advance neuroinclusion. At Delta, we define neurodiversity inclusion as the concerted efforts within a given environment where a) cognitive differences between people are positively embraced and b) valued equally as part of an individual’s broader identity profile.
Progress on neurodiversity inclusion can be made by applying broad experience and learnings from diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and seeing what has already worked well. Such an evidence-based approach is proven to help design more effective DEI solutions. Other strands of DEI work (such as race and gender equity work) have a longer history of research and practical application of solutions that build inclusive and equitable workplaces. Neurodiversity is, of course, another facet of human difference that can have significant impact on an individual’s experiences of belonging, thriving and advancing in the workplace. So, crossing DEI boundaries for thought leadership and borrowing tried and tested processes (which can be expertly modified), may steer towards greater success that also speaks to the human imperative of neurodiversity inclusion.
Enhancing current neurodiversity inclusion efforts means addressing barriers on multiple levels and adopting our hallmark Inclusion Ecosystem© approach, to focus on individuals, groups and systems:
In essence, neurodiversity at work programmes require a more holistic approach with the help of a broader lens. If you want to know more about how you can improve your existing neurodiversity inclusion strategy, or create a more sustainable neuroinclusive workplace, reach out to us here at Delta Alpha Psi, where our Inclusion Ecosystem © change programmes can be tailored to help drive effective change in your organisation. Contact us to explore building blocks that can help you address inclusive role designs or sign up to our free intro webinar which covers the fundamentals of neurodiversity and inclusion at work.
1. de Beer, J., Engels, J., Heerkens, Y. and van der Klink, J. (2014). Factors influencing work participation of adults with developmental dyslexia: a systematic review. BMC Public Health, 14(1).
2. Dobusch, L. (2020). The inclusivity of inclusion approaches: A relational perspective on inclusion and exclusion in organizations. Gender, Work & Organization.
3. Parkerreview.co.uk (2023). Available at: https://parkerreview.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/EY-Parker-Review-2023.pdf (Accessed: April 28, 2023).
4. Solkhe, A. (2021). Diversity and Inclusion: An Analysis of Current Status, Dimensions and Methodology through Systematic Review of Literature. Asian Journal of Economics, Finance and Management, 3(1), 315-328.
Author: Uzma Waseem
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