In my discussions with organizations striving to enhance their workforce and foster better employee experiences, one question frequently arises: "How can we create more neurodiverse organizations?" However, the real question that needs to be addressed is quite different.
According to my 2023 study involving over 30,000 workers, data reveals that approximately 1 in 5 workers identifies as neurodivergent, meaning that organizations are naturally neurodiverse. So, the true question isn't about creating more neurodiverse organizations; it's about how you can embrace and support the neurodiversity that already exists within your workforce.
Embracing neurodiversity isn't as daunting as it may seem; it starts with acknowledging its existence. Surprisingly, a March 2023 study conducted by City & Guilds found that only 1 in 4 HR and Senior Leaders in the UK have received training on supporting neurodivergent workers. The situation is even bleaker in the U.S., possibly due to the prevailing "D-first" approach to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). Providing training to your workforce, particularly those involved with hiring and managing employees, is a constructive move towards a more inclusive workplace.
Highlighting the output-focused position of U.S. organizations when it comes to DEIB hiring initiatives, Microsoft, considered a leader in neuroinclusive hiring, boasted a 7.8% disability employment rate in 2022. While commendable, when compared to the 20% of the population identifying as neurodivergent and the 13% of non-institutionalized adults with recognized disabilities in the U.S., there's a still a clear gap in achieving equitable employment. And remember, Microsoft is ahead of the curve when it comes to employers. There is much work to do.
To foster an inclusive and attractive environment for neurodivergent individuals, organizations must rethink their employment process from start to finish. At the top of funnel, here are some key considerations:
Begin by conducting a comprehensive audit of your recruitment, assessment, onboarding, and employment processes. This audit is crucial because ableism, often implicit, remains a significant barrier to achieving true neuroinclusivity within organizations. By scrutinizing each phase of your processes, you can uncover hidden biases and identify areas where inclusivity may be lacking. This step lays the foundation for creating a roadmap to address these gaps effectively.
Rethink Job Requirements: When crafting job descriptions, consider their readability and inclusivity. In a recent study of 1000 job posts on LinkedIn conducted by GBS, we found fewer than one in five job postings on LinkedIn have a Flesh readability score of 60% or higher. Ensure that internal job descriptions, which serve as legal documents, are distinct from external postings to avoid deterring neurodivergent candidates from applying.
To enhance neurodivergent talent attraction, set a goal to improve the readability score of your job postings. Using clear, easy-to-understand language presented in reader-friendly fonts benefits everyone, making your information more accessible to a broader pool of candidates.
Rewrite Those Job Postings: To achieve your readability goal, partner with external experts or use tools like Grammarly with readability scoring and inclusive job language checkers such as Uinclude. By enlisting external support or utilizing these resources, you can craft job descriptions that resonate with neurodivergent talent. Investing in inclusive language and clear communication is a step towards fostering an accessible and inviting environment.
Inform and Educate Prospective Employees: Well-informed candidates contribute to a better experience for everyone involved. Consider providing candidates with insights into each stage of the recruitment process. For example, sharing interview questions in advance can reduce anxiety, benefit those with atypical communication styles or language processing disorders, and lead to more meaningful interactions. Transparency throughout the process ensures that candidates are well-prepared and comfortable.
Rethink Possible in Recruitment: Think creatively about your recruitment process and challenge existing norms. Consider eliminating inefficient practices that neither benefit the candidate nor the organization. Some areas for improvement may include the volume-centric application phase, assessments that don't align with role requirements, and rigid interview structures. The process often prioritizes organizational needs over candidates' requirements. By adopting a candidate-centric approach, you can genuinely rethink the recruitment process, making it more equitable and attractive.
Ultimately, value is defined by your customers, both internal and external. Many organizations primarily serve their internal customers, focusing on their processes. To truly serve external customers, including neurodivergent candidates, it's crucial to understand and address their needs. This shift from internal-centricity to a candidate-centric perspective is the key to moving beyond lip-service diversity efforts and fostering genuine neuroinclusivity.
Embracing neurodiversity isn't just a goal; it's a journey toward a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all. For those ready to transform their organizations into inclusive workplaces for their already neurodiverse teams, if you have questions - let's talk! I'm always here to chat and willing to help.