At Consciously Unbiased we believe we are all different; we all belong. Our differences can also be our greatest strengths. Not everyone has strengths that can check a box during the interview process.
April is World Autism Month. In this special episode of Break the Bias, Director of Content Holly Corbett interviewed different voices who advocate for neurodiversity, which is the idea that neurological differences, such as autism, dyslexia and ADHD, are a natural variation in the human population, and that neurodiverse people bring unique strengths to the workplace and the world.
With approximately 1% of the global population on the autism spectrum alone, for example, companies who ignore this talent pool are missing out. There are benefits to hiring people with cognitive differences. There is strength in building teams where everyone doesn’t think the same, and some neurodiverse people may excel in areas such as pattern recognition and attention to detail as compared with neurotypical people. That’s why many companies—including SAP, EY, and Microsoft—are revising their HR programs to attract and retain neurodiverse talent.
In this episode you’ll hear from Dr. Stephen Shore, who was diagnosed with autism as a child and recommended to be institutionalized. Today Dr. Shore is a professor at Adelphi University and travels the world speaking to audiences about self-advocacy for those on the spectrum. He is also the author of more than five books.
You’ll also hear from Hiren Shukla, founder of EY’s NeuroDiversity Center of Excellence; Gena Mann, co-founder of Wolf + Friends, an app that is like a meet-up for the parents of kids with special needs, as well as other voices. Read on for a few takeaways, and listen here to get the full story.
NEURODIVERSITY IS NOT A ONE SIZE FITS ALL
“The autism spectrum is incredibly wide, it’s incredibly diverse, and, while we DO have characteristics that group us together; it’s also important to understand that if you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person.”
~Stephen Shore, Clinical Assistant Professor at Adelphi University and author of Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum
IT’S NOT CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY—IT’S GOOD FOR BUSINESS
“We have seen innovation, creativity and technical activities and skill in the areas of blockchain, cyber security, and artificial intelligence. These are areas where we know there is an active shortage of talent that every company is vying for. We’re saying those employees that you’re looking for are the ones who are bagging your groceries, driving your Uber, delivering your pizza, and working as a janitor in your children’s school. These are real examples of [neurodiverse] individuals we have hired, and who today are doing linear and logistic-regression analysis. They’re building machine learning algorithms. We realize we have struck a gold mine with talent.”
~Hiren Shukla, founder of EY’s NeuroDiversity Center of Excellence
CHECK YOUR ASSUMPTIONS DURING THE HIRING PROCESS
“The biggest thing we could do from a recruiting perspective is avoid the assumption that, say, because a person is not making direct eye contact with you, doesn’t mean they’re not following your train of thought or they’re not engaged. Don’t assume that a person is not qualified just because he or she is not able to articulate the way you think he or she should or could. The ability to avoid assumptions allows you to be able to ask a question that gives you a different level of knowledge about who that person is and what they can bring to the table.”
~Jamell Mitchell; Chief Talent and Strategy Leader at EY’s NeuroDiversity Center of Excellence
Related: Understanding DEIB in the Workplace
ACKNOWLEDGE AND EMBRACE OUR DIFFERENCES
“I’m neurodiverse, and my colleagues are neurodiverse; we’re just as different as a neurotypical person is to a neurodiverse person. Everyone has differences. Some differences though can cause a person to struggle with things that [our culture deems] are necessary to succeed in school or work…the best thing we can do for everybody else is just understand the differences that each person has, and support them.”
~Scott Snow, Account Support Associate at EY
CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL
“[Hiring neurodiverse talent] is going to be amazing for companies, because they’re going to get really loyal, fantastic workers who are good at certain types of things. That said, [corporate neurodiversity] programs are really going to be more for the high-functioning community, such as kids who are very talented at math and memorization and the like. I love it, but it’s not going to be for everybody. My son [who is on the spectrum] is starting work at a local bakery that employs young adults with special needs. There are lots of little businesses, such as bakeries and movie theaters, starting up to help employ kids with all sorts of disabilities, which is amazing. But there needs to be more [of all types of neurodiversity programs], because these kids are going to have long lives. They need to be occupied and have meaningful work and a sense of purpose for many, many years.”
~Gena Mann, co-founder of Wolf and Friends, mother of two boys on the autism spectrum
SHOW NOTES AND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
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