As part of my journey in learning more about Neurodiversity and doing my bit in helping make the workplace accessible for all both now and in the future, I felt it was time to start putting my learnings to paper and hope that my tiny circle of influence can get something from my ramblings.
Not sure how many parts this will end up being as I haven’t done this kind of thing before, but let’s see how it goes…
As If It Wasn’t Hard Enough for Anyone to find Work Right Now!
Many Neurodivergents tend to leave school with less qualifications than their potential suggests they should’ve got. This would be due to the support not always being in place in schools to enable them to achieve their best, along with the difficulties of peers who seem them as “different” or “odd”. Schools are trying to change this and SEND is now starting to get more focus, but there is a long way to go.
It’s not just schools either, Higher Education and Vocational Qualification settings also have not been equipped with the ability to support such a wide range of neurodiverse conditions, so it’s no wonder that students with Autism/ADHD/Dyslexia etc may not get the grades or qualifications they wanted or needed.
Find an Ally, Find A Job!
Finding the right job is difficult for us all, but finding a job when you’re Neurodiverse can be 10 times harder. So how can organisations start to make jobs accessible to all and not mean that individuals feel they need to hide their condition as best they can to try and get in the door?
In the current job world, (especially in Tech and other M&A functions), a large proportion of roles are now not publicly advertised and instead come about due to networking and building personal reputations. For people who enjoy socialising and enjoy being an active part of an industry community, this works in their favour, but for someone with Autism who may not feel able to socialise, this can cause additional anxiety and debilitate an individual. This could increase a lack of confidence, self-doubt and cause someone to go back into their shell, meaning they wouldn’t find out about these hidden roles. In some markets, these roles equate to 80% of the market, so straight away the window of opportunity is reduced significantly.
So what can be done? This is a tricky one, because we can’t force people to socialise more in the industry they wish to grow in, but one suggestion might be to find allies. This could come from various sources, but could involve organisations and individuals advocating for Neurodiversity, building bridges with neurodiverse charities and organisations (eg. National Autistic Society) to open a channel with them, to enable jobs to be advertised through their connections.
It may also be an opportunity for some people within major companies to buddy up with neurodiverse talent too, maybe being someone to talk to, to mentor and coach, while also making them feel at ease with what the working world may be like
This would certainly help to open a slightly larger amount of jobs to a market that haven’t usually been given a chance to apply. The next challenge will be to make sure the jobs being advertised are accessible to Neurodiverse candidates and the interview process does not exclude them either.
Guess you’ll be coming back for part 2 for more on that!