15% of the British population is neurodivergent, so why is it such a taboo topic in the workplace? Many companies and organisations pledge to bring better working conditions to those who are diagnosed with neurodivergent conditions but the lack of awareness sees little empathy for those who must struggle under neurotypical expectations.
What defines a person as neurodivergent?
The standard dictionary explanation for ‘neurodivergent' is: “Differing in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical or normal (frequently used with reference to autistic spectrum disorders); not neurotypical.” People with conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Bipolar, and Tourette’s Syndrome are defined as neurodivergent along with many others. Up to 50% of neurodivergent people go undiagnosed according to the co-founders of Perfectly Autistic, a blog run to raise awareness around the subject, provide resources and offer support, which leads to a new layer of struggle for a person in the workplace.
While neurodivergent people have a lack of ability in some areas, like those of neurotypical people, the effects can be pronounced. As the main area of employment in the United Kingdom is the service industry at 79% according to a study done by the House of Commons, the ability to be productive, interact with customers, and provide valuable service are the major attributes the neurodivergent must face. Perfectly Autistic have presented that in a safe and healthy environment neurodivergent people can be seen as a powerhouse for employers who have hyper-focus, extraordinary creativity, and a remarkable perspective. However, giving them an unstable work environment with a lack of awareness and support is too common.
Where is change happening?
According to Business Chief, it is the technology and banking investment companies across the world that are nurturing and encouraging neurodiverse talent to join their businesses. The likes of Microsoft, Google Cloud, and Goldman Sachs are offering internships targeted towards the neurodiverse. It is obvious they have seen the talent of such individuals within their workforce with their attention to detail, passion, and innovation. This commitment to neurodiversity within their companies promotes awareness around the issue that lies in many other employment sectors that lack the understanding and receptivity of the value the neurodiverse can bring to their work.
A neurodivergent person may try to mask their condition but it should never need to be the case. It is the responsibility of employers, managers, and our society to educate ourselves with the resources that are freely available to us. As we commit ourselves to supporting neurodiversity we must address the discrimination of neurodivergent people which comes from ignorance and lack of exposure. As resources advance so should our expectation of what employers should be and the support we require from them no matter where we stand in the spectrum of neurodiversity.
How can we help as a society?
By pushing for change within our community whether it be through education, charities, or internally within companies bringing up the subject of neurodiversity is always a step forward. Check out the organisations below to find out the brilliant work that is being done to create safe and stable work environments for the neurodiverse!
Perfectly Autistic - https://www.perfectlyautistic.co.uk/blog/
Mental Health That Works - https://www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk
CIPD - https://www.cipd.co.uk