This week was International Men's Day and the Global Institute for Women's Leadership...read more
Thom Dennis of Serenity in Leadership says that neurodiversity is something businesses should welcome and encourage.
While many employers recognise the value of neurodiversity in principle, a large proportion of leaders still believe that there isn’t a business case for hiring people with neurodiverse differences and that they hinder rather than augment and enrich an organisation.
Neurodiversity refers to differences in the human brain relating to emotions, learning, mood, attention and development and includes conditions like autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia. More than 1% of us are on the autistic spectrum and 10% of us are dyslexic, 10% are dyspraxic and the prevalence of ADHD in the adult population is thought to be between 3% and 4%, which totals a considerable percentage of the working population, but these often talented individuals are still struggling to get good jobs. Over 80% of autistic adults are unemployed and 28% of long-term unemployed are dyslexic.
Many companies who are ahead of the game, such as GCHQ, Dell and Microsoft, actively seek neurodivergent talent for their unique abilities because their ability to think differently is highly valued and indeed EY recently announced that it is to roll out a network of neurodiverse centres of excellence, including one in Manchester, to work on emerging technologies. However, Thom Dennis, CEO of Serenity in Leadership believes we are too slow at recognising neurodiverse talent.
“We see employers struggling to want to go the extra mile to support those who might have a few extra needs like needing more time to complete a project or wanting to work certain hours. However, the advantages of employing those whose brains are wired a bit differently means benefitting from their abundant strengths, abilities, talents and ways of thinking, and seeing their talent as an opportunity, rather than some sort of drain or extra hassle.
“Colleagues who are neurodiverse often have increased valuable skills such as lateral thinking, analysis, consistency and creativity. They may be more resilient, possess an advanced capacity to pay attention to intricate details, have a fantastic memory and thrive at repetitive, structured work. Let’s not forget that some of our global past and present greatest talents were thought to have or have dyslexia, for example, Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon, Winston Churchill, Carl Jung, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Keira Knightley, Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg and Daniel Radcliffe amongst many.
“Ultimately, businesses who value neurodiversity appreciate other viewpoints, attitudes, original ideas and innovative thinking. They want to be part of the fight against ignorance, prejudice and stereotypes and to lead towards improved understanding and respect. They also welcome people to bring their genuine selves to work and want to foster a healthier, more inclusive and creative work environment. Whilst benefiting from all of that, they are also likely to see a boost to company reputation and benefits to the bottom line.”