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Neurodiversity is trending up! What are you doing?


Transcript of 'Neurodiversity is Trending Up!'

A lot of companies are walking the walk when it comes to diversity in their hiring but many others are lagging behind. Why is this? Are they waiting to see how this ‘diversity experiment’ is going to pay off for those who have started these programmes? Are they watching the competition and will only react to this growing success story when they have the full facts, or equality and diversity laws are enforced more?

Well, it’s starting to look like the facts are coming in and presenting themselves, so risk averse reasons are looking a little like a company that is out dated and scared to change instead of willing to join in with this proven and inspiring method of hiring.

In 2015 McKinsey made a report on 366 public companies and found those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above mean. Do I need to continue? It seems I do, here's some more:

Credit Suisse conducted an analysis of 2,400 companies and found those with at least one female board member yielded higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those that did not have any women on the board. So far so impressive right?

Here is the fact, hiring people different to you and getting a diversity balance will help overcome out of date thinking and increase performance.

People from diverse backgrounds can also alter the behaviour of a group’s social majority in ways that lead to improved and more accurate group thinking. For instance, in Singapore and Texas, scientists put financially literate people in simulated markets and asked them to price stocks.

They assigned people to either ethnically diverse teams or homogenous teams. The researchers found individuals in the diverse teams were 58% more likely to price stocks correctly. Whereas those in homogenous groups were more prone to errors in pricing, according to the study. This is because diverse teams examine facts more carefully and are more objective by checking each other’s biases, which stops them from filtering facts to suit their own bias preference.

This is a difficult one to sell, I find, as an experienced interviewer trainer, because unfortunately people are inclined to hire people that are more like themselves. They subconsciously can’t help it, I always offer the tip ‘You aren’t looking to hire friends’ so cut the bias hiring out!

Neurodiversity is starting to become red hot right now in the hiring world of the large switched on employers. They are creating environments specialised to accommodate people with autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and other neuro differences.

Many people with these disorders have higher-than-average abilities; research shows that some conditions, including autism and dyslexia, can bestow special skills in pattern recognition, memory, or mathematics. Yet, those affected with these disorders, often struggle to fit the hiring profiles sought by prospective employers who aren’t trained to see the benefits.

Companies with informed neuro diverse programmes are making accomodations such as allowing those team members with stimulus sensitivity to wear headphones while working, which enables them to work more effectively. And the return on investing in these neurodiverse programmes is rewarding. Some of the companies who have introduced such programmes are SAP in marketing analytics and Google, HP, EY, Microsoft and Ford, who have hired autistic people, so far largely in software testing roles. SAP’s programme has been running for 4 years with great returns beyond initial expectations, such as productivity gains, quality improvement and boosts in innovation. Kirsten Sutton MD at SAP Canada says “They work in marketing analytics and the third-party IP team, as developers. Many things most of us find redundant and difficult to stay focused on for a long length of time, they thrive in doing.”

Goldman Sachs is another neurodiverse employer who have hired a pool of autistic people, one of their managers listed just some of the benefits of employing someone on the autism spectrum:

  • Dependable and hard-working individuals

  • High level of technical ability and attention to detail

  • Good memory for facts and figures.

One of the drawbacks, has been employers looking to interview autistic people using normal interviewing methods, such as interviewing for cultural fit – forget about it! A cultural fit will be a real challenge, as people on these spectrums do not think or behave in the same way as people without these neuro set ups.

It is important to train employers in how to use the right recruitment methods and onboarding when hiring for neurodiversity.

Another big trend is not hiring from the same university pool time and again.

A study was published in the 'Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin', by Katherine Phillips of Northwestern University in America. Her team divided college members into four-member groups, each of which had to read interviews conducted by a detective investigating a murder.

Three people in every group, referred to as ‘oldtimers’ in the study, came from the same college, whereas the fourth, the so-called ‘newcomer’ was either a member of the same college or a different one.

The three ‘oldtimers’ in each group gathered to decide who was the most likely murder suspect. Five minutes into their discussion, the newcomer joined the deliberation and expressed their opinion as to who the suspect was. It turned out that although groups with different college newcomers felt less confident about the accuracy of their joint decisions, they were more likely to guess who the correct suspect was than those with newcomers who belonged to the same college as the group.

Wow! This is backing up the interesting move by some of the biggest graduate hiring companies to remove university names and candidate names from applications to prevent biased screening and no wonder! Some of the Big 4 professional service firms in the UK are dropping the need to provide details on grades at A level instead they are looking contextually, as with Deloitte, to the actual high school itself and the school's performance, and if the average at that school was 3 C’s then if someone got 3 B’s and no A’s were awarded then this is demonstrating natural drive and academic prowess under difficult circumstances, important traits in a Big 4.

A true case of academic determination and resilience and valuable competencies. The main reason scientists think that diverse teams can outperform homogenous ones in decision making is because they process information more carefully.

Another study shows how companies can be more innovative if they hire more women and different cultures.

In a study published in 'Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice', the authors analysed levels of gender diversity in R&D teams from 4,277 companies in Spain. They found that companies with more women were more likely to introduce radical new innovations into the market over a two-year period. A real boost for hiring more women in technology R&D.

Though it may feel easier working with people who share the same background, gender and mental characteristics it’s time to step out of the comfort zone and realise the potential in working within diverse teams and environments to encourage less bias, better rewards and greater innovation. Thereby making the company proactive and more intelligent than those waiting to see if it’s worth their while implementing a diversity strategy, it’s time to leave them behind.

For more information on these points and how your company can benefit from a diversity hiring assessment and strategy contact Clare Reed at or book in a call.

#Neurodiversity #diverseworkforce #diversity #HumanResourcestrategy #TalentAcquisition #autismatwork #Graduatestrategy #genderdiversity #culturediversity #diversitystrategy

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