Seven in 10 employers do not include neurodiversity – alternative ways of thinking such as autism, dyslexia and ADHD – in their people management practices.
A poll of more than 300 HR professionals by the CIPD found that neurodiversity was ignored in the policies of 72% of employers across the UK.
Around 17% said they did not know whether their organisation had a neurodiversity policy, while only 10.2% said they had one in place.
The CIPD claimed that, given that around 10% of the population is neurodivergent in some way, the majority of employers are missing out on the benefits associated with alternative ways of thinking.
It said neurodivergent people can have unique strengths including the ability to spot patterns and trends, sustained focus over long periods and processing information quickly.
Dr Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said employers were “screening out” neurodivergent people at a time when they needed to fill skills gaps.
“Rather than measuring potential employees against a long wish list of capabilities, we need to be clear on the key skills each job requires and enable people who possess those to play to their strengths,” she added.
The CIPD has created a guide with Uptimize – which provides training tools for neurodiverse individuals – to improve awareness and understanding of alternative ways of thinking in the workplace and the benefits of neurodiverse employees.
Its recommendations include:
- removing jargon from job descriptions and reviewing the use of competency-based recruitment frameworks
- completing a desk assessment for new starters and avoiding bright lights in the office
- encouraging regular one-to-one feedback sessions between neurodiverse employees and their managers
- making sure neurodiversity is championed by senior personnel
- ensuring that support is available to all individuals and is clearly advertised
Ed Thompson, CEO of Uptimize, said: “In the past, attention was solely on the challenges faced by neurodivergent individuals at work, but now leading employers are documenting the huge advantages of employing people who literally think differently.
“We believe that embracing neurodiversity can be a significant competitive advantage – organisations have the opportunity to leverage the skills of this high potential, available talent pool.”