For some time now, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have been hot topics within companies and mobility programs are often a huge part of supporting diverse hiring and talent management.
However, in this article from Fast Company, “I came out as autistic at work. Here’s what happened“, Krysta Johnson, a Lexion employee, shares her story along with the making the point that DEI hiring strategies that address neurodivergence are still very rare! Only 7% of companies globally have neurodiversity recruiting plans in place. In the ongoing hunt for talent however, this group of people could offer some big contributions that your company might not have considered!
Let’s provide some definitions first. According to this article in Harvard Health Publishing, neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one “right” way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits. The word neurodiversityrefers to the diversity of all people, but it is often used in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other neurological or developmental conditions such as ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia or other different learning abilities.
And this is a substantial group of people that is becoming even bigger. You may not realize that there are millions of adults living with ASD and that individuals with ASD face disproportionately high levels of unemployment and underemployment. Per HR Brew, “The unemployment rate for people with autism in the US was as high as 85% pre-pandemic, (according to data from Deloitte), a persistent problem for workers with autism that some researchers have attributed to employers’ concerns about perceived costs and accommodations.”
This Forbes article shares that 15% to 20% of the population are neurodivergent. They explain that the National Autistic Society says that people on the autistic spectrum have a variety of exceptional skills that are highly valued by employers, enabling them to thrive in roles ranging from computer programmer to journalist, statistician or sales assistant. Additionally, a report by JPMorgan Chase found in Financial Times that professionals in its Autism at Work initiative made fewer errors and were 90% to 140% more productive than neurotypical employees.
By making small tweaks to working and learning settings, employers and schools could make a world of difference and unlock an incredible amount of talent for themselves. Per “Neurodiversity and the Future of Work” published by AACSB, here are 5 areas that could be implemented now:
- Learn more and debunk myths and misconceptions
- Reimagine accessibility and inclusion
- Partner with neurodiverse communities
- Include neurodivergent perspectives in teaching and practice
- Strengthen an overall culture of inclusion
We’ve asked this question before (“How can mobility programs better support neurodiversity?“), but with the data we’re seeing now, it’s worth questioning again how mobility programs can help extend DE&I practices to neurodiverse candidates? Given that most of corporate America is failing to properly serve this large segment of the workforce, it would not be surprising to find that many mobility programs have done very little.
So, to close out this post, we are going to provide you with 7 tactical considerations for supporting neurodiverse employees and/or their neurodiverse family members that are going through a relocation or assignment:
- Individual support plans: Collaborate with neurodiverse employees and/or their families to create personalized support plans that consider their specific sensitivities, routines, and communication preferences.
- Get records and documentation: Make sure to have copies of all records for things like IEP’s evaluations, medical records concerning medications etc.
- Medications: Be sure to have medications to bring and look into how future prescriptions will get filled.
- Provide information in advance and incorporate visual aids: Provide detailed information well in advance of the relocation. Use visual aids, such as maps and schedules, to help neurodiverse individuals understand the process and the new environment.
- Sensory-friendly accommodations: Ensure that housing and workspaces are sensory-friendly. For example, reduce sensory stimuli (e.g. noise, bright lights) and provide sensory tools (e.g. noise-canceling headphones) to create comfortable environments.
- Clear communication channels: Establish clear and consistent communication channels for neurodiverse employees and their families. Consider using written communication, visual aids, and accessible technology to facilitate understanding and minimize confusion. Then, check-in frequently.
- Supportive resources and network: Connect neurodiverse employees and their families with local support networks, both within and outside of the organization. This can include autism support groups, counseling services and community resources to help during the transition and beyond.
By implementing these tactical considerations, organizations and mobility programs can demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity and ensure that neurodiverse individuals and their families have the necessary support for a successful relocation or assignment.
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