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Supporting Neurodiversity in the workplace – What is it & why is it important?

Mental Health

This is part one of supporting Neurodiversity in the workplace, this part of the blogs explains what Neurodiversity is and why is it important in the workplace.

What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiverse [“ND”] and neurodiversity refer to the infinite variation in cognitive functioning that can lead to differences in thinking, attention and memory.

‘We need to admit that there is no standard brain,’

  • Thomas Armstrong in his pivotal work The Power of Neurodiversity.

The reality of treatment towards Neurodiversity…

People work, and function at their best ability in different ways. People with dyslexia, ADHD, autism (those who are Neurodiverse) often struggle in the workplace to perform to their best ability.

A large majority of people do not disclose a neurodiverse condition to their employer or indeed are undiagnosed so unaware for many years. It’s common for adult diagnosis for many ND conditions. Figures vary from sector to sector. In the tech industry non-disclosure is 40%. Others report figures as high as 73%. The fact that so few employers know how many ND individuals are in their organisation is a concern. It makes it harder to provide appropriate help and support.

A lack of support could increase the levels of stress and frustration among individuals who feel they are stuck with no choice but to accept the environment they work in and have to adapt themselves with little support or awareness that they are suffering, or that they feel at a disadvantage.

Why is it important?

‘While neurodivergent people may face their own, specific challenges in the workplace environment, or with particular tasks, they can bring unique and valuable strengths to their work.’

Given the overall prevalence of neurodivergent people, there are clear risks of not taking steps to ensure your workplace is truly diverse and inclusive.

You should think about what it will cost your business when you don’t get most out of your employees in terms of productivity because they are unsupported or can’t show up to work as their true self, or when you lose talent to more diverse and inclusive employers?

You could miss out on the ‘diversity of thought’ that neurodiversity can deliver, and that other firms are setting themselves up to benefit from. This could even affect you in terms of your customers and loss of cost in terms of lost revenue, and even brand reputation.

You should also be aware that a person’s neurodivergence may be regarded as a disability under the Equality Act 2010.

The Equality Act defines disability as a ‘physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’.

Employers are obliged, under the Equality Act 2010, to ‘make sure workers with disabilities, or physical or mental health conditions, aren’t substantially disadvantaged when doing their jobs’. This means employers need to take consideration of reasonable adjustments seriously.

Neurodivergent people will have transitioned to home working differently to Neurotypical employees, checking in on each employee to assess their needs is so important.

The full benefits of neurodiversity inclusion are still being explored and understood, but it’s increasingly clear that this can have benefits both internal and external. One clear advantage is in attracting new talent – a talent that has been substantially overlooked as well as thinking differently to the rest of the workforce giving a completely different perspective.

Disclaimer

Please note this blog is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions on enquires@thrivelaw.co.uk

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