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WM People has published a white paper on recruiting for and managing neurodiverse teams.
WM People, workingmums.co.uk’s parent group, has published a white paper on best practice when it comes to neurodiversity in the workplace.
The white paper is based on a roundtable with employers and neurodiversity experts in March, sponsored by Roche, which aimed to bring employers together to discuss best practice in recruiting for and managing neurodiverse teams.
Guest speaker was Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge who spoke about his new book, The Pattern Seekers: A New Theory of Human Invention. The book argues that, while autistic people have disabilities when it comes to their social relationships and communications, they have strengths and talents when it comes to pattern recognition and that that ability to spot patterns is behind humans’ unique capacity for invention.
He said autistic people are very good at spotting patterns and at taking systems apart in order to understand them. Being able to look at the details and spot patterns leads to systems improvements, said Professor Baron-Cohen.
However, despite these strengths, the majority of autistic adults [around 85%] are unemployed and face barriers to getting into the workplace. Professor Baron-Cohen said the traditional way of hiring people through face to face interviews is one of these barriers – autistic people often find it hard to make eye contact and hold fluent conversations. They may also face bias and subtle discrimination in the recruitment process, with employers thinking they may need extra support. Unemployment is bad for mental well being and the majority of autistic adults have poor mental health, said Professor Baron-Cohen, citing a survey showing two thirds admitting to having felt suicidal at some point and a third having actually attempted suicide.
There is, he said, a social and moral responsibility to make sure autistic people are not excluded from the workplace in addition to a business benefit of employing neurodivergent people who bring a different skillset and perspective and can enhance innovation and productivity. It is, said Professor Baron-Cohen, time to wake up to the historic legacy of exclusion of neurodivergent people from the workforce and to address the moral and business case for doing so.
Neurodiversity encompasses everything from autism to dyslexia and dyspraxia. The discussion with employers and experts from the Exceptional Individuals consultancy covered everything from the recruitment process and onboarding process to career progression for neurodivergent individuals.
Key takeaways include:
*To order your free copy of the white paper, please click here.