During Neurodiversity Celebration Week (13-19 March), the CIPD is calling for employers to adopt a greater understanding of neurodivergent* people - such as those with autism, ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia - and how to create an inclusive workplace where all people are able to perform at their best.

This comes after data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that autistic people are the least likely to be in work of any other disabled group, with less than a quarter (22%) of autistic adults in paid employment.*

The CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, says organisations that recruit, retain, and nurture neurodivergent workers – people with alternative thinking styles - can gain a competitive edge from increased diversity in skills and creativity. Yet according to CIPD research, just 7% of employers say they have focused on making their organisation more diverse and inclusive with respect to neurodiversity.

To help, the CIPD has collaborated with leading neurodiversity training firm Uptimize, to develop guidance for employers on how to make their workplace and people management approach more 'neurodiversity aware.'

Practical steps for managers in the 'Neurodiversity in the Workplace' guide include training on neurodiversity, communicating clearly, and taking the time to understand each employee’s strengths, challenges and working preferences. Managers must also consider any reasonable workplace adjustments to ensure workers are happy and productive in the workplace.

Daphne Doody-Green, Head of CIPD in Northern England, CIPD, said: "Employers that do not take action to make their organisation neuro-inclusive will miss out on the unique skills of a substantial talent pool. Diversity of thought and creativity can add real value and innovation to an organisation, with the development of more inclusive products and services.

Many reasonable adjustments are low or no cost. For example, providing a quiet place to work or flexible working options. Often, these reasonable adjustments can make a world of difference in helping neurodivergent people to thrive and be comfortable at work."

Organisations such as consulting firm EY, which launched a Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence (NCoE) in 2021, have found that having those with cognitive differences on board has given them a creative edge.

Alison Kay, EY’s Managing Partner for Client Service, UK&I, said: "As a business leader, accelerating progress on diversity and inclusion in the workplace makes commercial sense and fits with our purpose – Building a Better Working World.

"I hope that as EY aims to create a highly supportive working environment for all of our people, our UK NCoE will encourage others to lead with purpose and challenge their own talent strategy, to help transform the employment prospects of neurodivergent individuals," Kay added.

*Neurodiversity refers to the natural range of differences in human brain function. Amongst employers, it’s become the term used to describe alternative thinking styles including dyslexia, autism, ADHD and dyspraxia as they relate to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

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