Neurodiversity Employment in the Upcoming Decade
by Bridget McElroy and Amanda Zorzi
As humans have evolved, variations in the human genome have led to differing neurotypes across our species. Neurodiversity refers to these natural variances in the brain which result in different ways of thinking, learning, and socializing. This diversity in brain functioning has and will continue to have advantages for society as a whole.
The neurodiversity movement challenges the medical model’s idea that a neurodivergence like autism or ADHD is dysfunctional and inherently requires treatment. Instead, it supports the notion that neurological differences among people should be recognized and respected, and calls society to further adapt to meet the needs associated with neurodivergence.
I view ‘autistic’ as a word for a part of how my brain works, not for a narrow set of behaviors and certainly not for a set of boundaries of a stereotype that I have to stay inside. — Amanda Baggs, American blogger
Over the past decade, employers have begun to embrace the benefits associated with a neurodiverse workforce. These initiatives, along with the continued efforts of self-advocates and allies, have sparked increased energy around the topic throughout society. Our organization supports this movement by helping companies diversify their workforce and adapting the socially nuanced interview process to focus on job-related skills. We do this by replacing a traditional interview with a project that requires the same technical skills needed for the identified role and providing candidates with an opportunity to directly showcase those skills to hiring managers. This process has been successfully utilized by SAP, Lincoln Financial Group, Thermo Fisher, Bank of America, VMWare and more.
While considerable progress has been made during the past decade, the stigma around human differences is still undoubtedly present and more work lies ahead in terms of acceptance and appreciation of our varied existences within the workplace. It is our hope that this movement continues to evolve and expand in the next ten years. Here are some of our aspirations for the neurodiversity movement in the workplace:
Increased accessibility of meaningful employment leads to increased innovation across technical fields
Some of the most significant early innovators such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, and Emily Dickinson are thought to be on the autism spectrum based on reported characteristics. In today’s workforce, common interview processes rely heavily on nuanced social interaction which excludes many highly-skilled candidates from the workforce. By relying solely on these hiring methods, we could be missing out on this generation’s most innovative thinkers. As more companies adapt their hiring processes and establish inclusive work environments so that this untapped talent pool has increased access to employment, we anticipate a significant increase in progress and innovation.
Types of opportunities expand for neurodivergent individuals with varying interests and career goals
STEM fields are leading the way in this initiative, but this is not the sole area of interest and skill for neurodivergent individuals. Over the next ten years, we want to see an increase in available job opportunities for candidates interested in journalism, history, library science, education, and beyond. We envision a future where the skills and passions of those with ASD are what determines their futures.
Autistic people are individuals. We are not all math geniuses, we don’t all like trains. I am hopeless with technology and much prefer painting. There is no ‘typical Autistic.’ But I think we probably all like being respected and validated. — Jeanette Purkis
Neurodiversity is a key part of every organization’s talent acquisition strategy
Currently, most neurodiversity hiring initiatives are niche projects led by motivated employees within large corporations. We anticipate this initiative expanding into businesses of all sizes and disciplines, and envision a future where neurodiversity is an integral component of every company’s hiring practices and supported in all workplace cultures. A truly inclusive workplace would utilize accessible interview practices that focus on job-related skills, include access to more varied support services such as job coaching as a standard part of a benefits package, and promote open communication regarding individual needs.
What does the neurodiversity movement mean to you? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you or is someone you know experiencing unemployment due to barriers related to the traditional interview process? We will be facilitating numerous hiring programs nationally in 2020. Fill out our intake form to become a part of our candidate database, and we’ll reach out to you if any of our upcoming hiring programs fit your qualifications and interests.