Skip To Main Content

Embracing Neurodiversity is a Key Component to Workplace DEI

Reading Time 


Posted On MAR 25, 2024 

In recent years, the idea of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace has not only grown in importance, but it has evolved from traditional ideas of gender and race inclusivity to one with a much broader spectrum. This spectrum is one that now encompasses a range of human experiences and abilities, including that of neurodiverse individuals. Which, according to the National Symposium on Neurodiversity, neurological differences include, but are not limited to dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, autism spectrum, Tourette syndrome, and others.


But understanding and appreciating neurodiversity is not just a moral imperative; it's also a strategic advantage for businesses striving to create successful, inclusive environments. As with all people of different backgrounds, neurodiverse individuals bring a unique set of strengths, perspectives, and skills to the table. Contrary to traditional stereotypes, neurodiverse people excel in areas like creative problem solving, pattern-recognition, and attention to detail, among others. But despite these unique skillsets, there is still a disproportionate need for neurodiversity in the workplace, and it’s an area where many companies, unfortunately, are falling short.


Stigma and a lack of understanding are driving home this gap in the workforce. But consider this: inclusive teams make better decisions 87% of the time, and are 8X more likely to achieve better outcomes (LHH Inclusivity Report). Barriers to employment for this group of workers is holding back progress for a diverse workforce, and as a result, companies are missing out on opportunities for growth and the opportunity to bring on exceptionally talented individuals.


Plus, due to greater awareness levels from social media and online platforms, people are increasingly identifying as neuroatypical. Research indicates that around 15-20% of the U.S. population falls under this category. So, perpetuating non-inclusive hiring patterns could be eliminating a huge pool of potential candidates.


How Can We Make Strides Towards a Truly Inclusive Workforce?


Creating a workforce that embodies DEI needs to go beyond mere rhetoric. It needs to encompass a culture of genuine interest, understanding, and action when it comes to hiring and retaining neurodiverse employees. This means going beyond the first stages of the hiring process and taking major leaps to build a work culture around inclusion—one where employees and managers alike are interested in seeing this kind of progress within their own organizations.


In our 2024 Workforce Trends Report, we discovered a major gap in how well employers and employees think their organizations are prompting diversity—91% of employers feel their organizations are doing enough to promote diversity in the workplace, with 68% of employees thinking their companies could do more. So, it’s up to leaders to actively work towards closing this gap. Your organization may have a clearly defined DEI philosophy and set of values, but implementing DEI effectively is more than a one-time initiative. It requires ongoing effort, as well as support and sponsorship from company leaders to build on that foundation and incorporate DEI into your day-to-day recruitment, talent development, and career management programs. Below are some suggestions, to help you get started.


1. Neurodiversity training for leadership


Any serious changes in workplace culture have to start at the top—so it’s crucial for leaders to undergo training to promote a better understanding and acceptance of neurodiversity. Managers need to be equipped with the right tools to effectively lead teams of diverse individuals, including understanding neurodiverse communication styles, addressing unique challenges, and having a firm grasp of the value that these individuals bring to organizational success.


2. Neurodiversity training for staff


After educating and getting managers on board, it’s imperative to train employees on practices for maintaining a neuro-diverse-friendly workplace. Training sessions and workshops can help to reduce stigma, dispel myths, foster greater empathy, and educate on the benefits of working alongside team members who possess different skillsets and ways of thinking.


3. Structured support systems


Implement mentorship programs, 1:1 coaching, buddy systems, or peer support groups to help neurodiverse employees navigate workplace cultures and expectations. A good way to do this is by appointing one point of contact for accommodations and resources, that will help to make their integration experience a successful one from the get-go.


4. Practice unbiased hiring


Ensure your hiring practices are inclusive and equitable at every recruitment stage. This means going beyond hiring at the entry level, and following candidates through the hiring funnel to ensure they see success at higher-level positions over time. Consider implementing AI for blind resume screening and promoting cultural competence by training your hiring managers to effectively interact with candidates of various backgrounds.


5. Provide upskilling and reskilling opportunities


Provide upskilling opportunities to existing in-house talent, including those from neurodiverse backgrounds. Because these individuals may possess unique skill sets but may lack those such as fast-paced adaptability, providing learning opportunities to upskill and reskill is a great way to continually invest in their future within the organization. Some ways to upskill:


  • Mentorship and 1:1 coaching
  • Online learning programs/courses
  • Job rotation and shadowing
  • Internal workshops or lunch-and-learns
  • Feedback and comprehensive performance reviews


By embracing neurodiversity and implementing some of these practices, organizations can build a future workforce that not only champions DEI, but embodies it. Embracing the diverse perspectives and skills of employees from all backgrounds is not just the right thing to do—it’s imperative for businesses that want to build a stronger, more adaptable, and ultimately, more successful workforce. Acknowledging the distinct strengths of neurodiverse hires will help to shape an economy where all individuals can excel and participate in shaping a future centered on inclusivity.


At LHH, our mission is to achieve a continuously evolving work environment in which all individuals feel valued, supported, and respected. Contact an LHH expert today to learn more about how we can help you achieve your own DEI ambitions.