Neurodiversity at Work
April is Autism Acceptance month, and it is a great time to discuss the importance of employing neurodiverse people. We often discuss diversity recruiting as hiring more women or people of color. However, people with disabilities are unemployed at a rate of twice that of people who are not disabled. According to the Autism Society, more than 66% of young adults on the autism spectrum are unemployed two years after high school and not enrolled in college. Even with those statistics, people with autism are employed in nearly every profession. Despite the stereotypes and biases they face, adults with autism are able to work and could likely be accommodated with minimal cost to the employing organization.
The truth is, to some extent we are all differently abled (a term preferred by many neurodiverse people). We are all raised differently, born in different circumstances, and have our own experiences that make us different. It is what makes us unique and what makes diversity work in the workplace. As a good friend often says, “Normal is a setting on the dryer.”
With low unemployment numbers on a national level and a large population of adults on the autism spectrum who are unemployed or underemployed, it’s a simple math problem. Companies can hire adults with autism, offering training and support, including job aides or communication aides, as necessary. State and local agencies offer various services, as well as Autism Society affiliates in every region.
Organizations who are struggling to recruit diverse candidates have an untapped market at their fingertips. There are best practices for recruiting and retaining people with autism. This article from Harvard Business Review, “Neurodiversity As a Competitive Advantage”, includes some incredible resources and recommendations. Hiring neurodiverse employees requires making changes to the recruiting and hiring process. Companies who have made the effort have benefited from a highly engaged committed population. Need help getting started? Neuro Talent Works can help.
Does your organization hire neurodiverse talent? My hope is that employers will begin to see the advantage of hiring diverse candidates from all underrepresented groups.