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DE&I is More Than Race and Gender – Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Unfortunately, Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion work has been defined by race and gender by people with ulterior motives. Mostly, they just want to return to working with people like them and quit thinking about these things.

What is too often left out of these discussions are the other groups we should consider when discussing inclusion. One group would be the neurodivergent. There is a wide scope of people who fall under that definition. You might have people with diagnosed ADHD, dyslexia, on the Autism spectrum, or those with mental health issues. One thing they have in common is that they often struggle with processes in our workplaces because their brains don’t work that way.

For example, I’ve talked before about people who struggle to navigate a commute for various reasons, including being at risk of having a seizure while driving or an inability to deal with public transit. Those are only scratching the surface, though. I’ve also worked with people who struggle with task-switching as often as others. (Granted, all this task switching makes us less productive and effective, but for someone with ADHD, it might be quite impossible even to function.)

I often find myself thinking about coworkers like that when politicians start talking about abolishing DE&I programs at universities and public programs because no matter how you might feel about affirmative action-type rules or the gender pay gap, these programs also make it possible for neurodivergent people to be accommodated in the public space. This is something we should all be in favor of.

Given all of this, I was glad to see this article recently:

Autism, ADHD, and other neuro types can be an asset in the workplace — and companies are finally doing the work to recruit and retain neurodivergent staff

Granted, this was written in January, and I am worried that with all of the layoffs that have occurred since then, things may have changed for the worse.

That being said, this is an important takeaway from that article:

About 15 to 20% of the world’s population identifies as neurodivergent.

We have so many companies complaining about finding talent, and we also have a massively underemployed group who could be great at these jobs with some small accommodations. I’m no data scientist, but this seems like an opportunity. The article above lists some considerations that could make a huge difference and help you find and retain talented people who need someone to understand that their brains work differently.

This is what inclusion looks like too.

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