By s1jobs

FOR those struggling to find suitably talented staff, the problem might be that they aren’t looking in the right places.

There’s been much discussion and some progress on the issue of gender diversity, with the drive for ethnic inclusion following in its wake. Meanwhile, sexual orientation is dealt with as standard in virtually every diversity and inclusion policy.

What is often not addressed is neurodiversity. A recent report by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) found only 27 per cent of organisations could say with certainty that appropriate references are included in their policies.

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This even though as many as one in seven people are estimated to be neurodivergent, which covers a range of conditions such as autism, dyslexia and Tourette syndrome. Furthermore, though the vast majority of neurodivergents are qualified and enthusiastic about gaining employment, half of leaders and managers in the ILM’s research admitted they would be uncomfortable hiring a person with one or more of these conditions.

The highest level of bias is against those with Tourette syndrome and ADHD/ADD, with the hesitancy seeming to stem from negative stereotypes of these conditions. For example, most people assume everyone with Tourette’s has a swearing tic, but only 10-15% actually do.

There are also prevailing misconceptions that neurodivergents will be more difficult to manage, or lack the ability to function well in a workplace. This too often overrides the skills they bring to the table – many are highly analytical and excellent at solving problems, with an outstanding ability to focus on the task at hand.

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So how best to go about harnessing this talent? The obvious first step is for organisations to review their inclusion policies to ensure there are provisions for neurodivergent conditions.

From there, employers need to examine their hiring processes, as these are often set up in ways that filter out neurodivergents. Microsoft, for example, has implemented a more autismfriendly interview experience that takes place over several days to give applicants every chance of showcasing their talents.

For those who doubt whether it’s worth the investment, consider this: billionaire Howard Hughes suffered from OCD, entrepreneur Richard Branson has dyslexia, and teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg has Asperger’s syndrome. No one could question the impact each has had on the world around them.