Six ways to create a neuro-inclusive workplace

The City & Guilds Foundation, which specialises in developing skills, has published its 2024 Neurodiversity Index report.

The report found that more organisations are focusing on neuro-inclusion, with more employers having neuro-inclusion strategies and adapting their recruitment practices to accommodate neurodivergent applicants than in the previous year.

However, it also found that 50% of individual respondents had been off work during 2023 owing to neurodivergent-related challenges, with more than a third of neurodivergent workers not having received any guidance from their employer and a fifth claiming to be still waiting for promised adjustments to be made.

The report also made various recommendations aimed at creating a neuro-inclusive workplace, including:

1          Job descriptions

Reviewing job descriptions for inaccessible terms or bias is important because it can help to ensure that a company’s recruitment process is inclusive and fair to all potential candidates.  Terms can be inaccessible owing to the use of language or terminology that may be difficult to understand or may exclude certain groups of people. For example, using jargon or acronyms specific to a certain field or industry can make it difficult for people unfamiliar with that industry to understand the job description.  Only one in three organisations had reviewed job descriptions to make them neurodiverse.

2          Interview

Offering different interview options for potential candidates can help increase the diversity of the applicant pool.  It can also help reduce recruitment bias, as some individuals may feel more comfortable or perform better using alternative formats such as phone or video instead of in-person interviews.  This way, an interview can create an environment that induces less anxiety and means the candidate can better demonstrate their skills and capabilities.

3          Accessibility

Websites in the UK should be accessible to people with disabilities.  This includes ensuring that text can be resized, that the site can be navigated using a keyboard, that images have alternative text, and that the site works well with screen readers.  Websites should also be tested for accessibility by people with disabilities to ensure they are usable for everyone.  This year only 35% of organisations said their websites were accessible.  Ensure that physical, technological, and communication accommodations are in place to support all employees, including those with temporary or more permanent challenges.

4          Support and mentorship

Implementing employee resource groups, creating neurodiversity champions, and developing mentorship programmes to support neurodivergent employees can help them succeed and make progress in their careers.  Targeted training where there are skills gaps or a lack of confidence remains important, and the content may need to be differentiated for Human Resources (HR), Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) and Learning and Development (LD) Managers.

5          Inclusive policies

Review and update all policies to eliminate barriers and create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all employees.  Listen to honest feedback from ability groups and employee resource groups to hear what is and is not working already. Make sure these policies are visible and accessible to everyone. A great place to start is recruitment, retention, ED&I and well-being processes, and policies to ensure neurodiversity awareness training is integrated to create an inclusive workplace for all.

6          Representation

Encourage and support the representation of neurodivergent individuals at all levels of the organisation. Discuss this with your C-suite/Senior Leadership Team to see how diverse your business really is.

Source: City & Guilds Foundation: Championing and supporting Neurodiversity in the workplace (7 May 2024)