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Assessing and supporting Neurodiverse Talent

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

The global diversity movement has brought with it an increased awareness of the importance and strengths of individual differences. One of the areas of focus and recent research is that of neurodiversity. Organisations are increasingly recognising and truly appreciating the strengths that those with neurodivergent conditions can bring to a role and making adjustments to their internal practices to encourage and support such diversity.

There is considerable research highlighting the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace, including:

At GFB we are committed to ensuring that our testing, development and selection solutions are fair, inclusive, and accessible for all individuals. Specifically, helping our clients attract and retain neurodivergent talent is one of our key focuses. We constantly review the latest research and recommendations on best practices in this area for our clients to ensure we maintain this commitment.

Why is it important?

Individuals with neurodivergent conditions are believed to make up about 15-20% of the population. Although the term covers lots of different conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, dyspraxia, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), tourette syndrome and more, the one thing that is clear is that appreciating and accommodating individual differences is an important part of every organisation.

Best practice for neurodiversity in the workplace

The CIPD have a really useful guide for those starting out with best practice across the workplace; Neurodiversity at Work. It has two aims:

1. To raise awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace among employers;

2. To inspire more employers to action – to take steps to encourage neurodiverse job applicants, remove potential ‘friction points’ in the hiring process and to support their staff to achieve their potential.

‘To be neurodiversity smart, firms should strive to develop a language and acceptance of neuro-difference, and to celebrate and leverage neurodiverse strengths while taking steps to accommodate specific challenges that an individual may face.”

Psychometric testing and neurodiversity

We work with a number of different test publishers with regards to best practice and recommend an individualised, supportive approach for individuals disclosing such conditions.

Reasonable adjustments: Many modifications can be offered to support neurodivergent candidates while taking assessments, including screen readers, extra time, having someone present to support, providing colour contrast, sharing interview questions in advance, and more. As with any condition disclosed, we recommend an individualised approach to assessing the needs of each individual and this is even more relevant for neurodiversity , given the overlap between conditions and variations in how each individual experiences the assessment.

In terms of awareness and appropriateness of assessments, resent research by SHL identified that:

  • Cognitive ability is a promising option for assessing neurodivergent talent. Compared to those not disclosing a disability, individuals with autism and other neurodivergent conditions who took three types of ability tests performed similarly, if not better and took comparable amounts of time to complete them, if not less.

  • Neurodivergent talent is likely to have a ‘spiky profile’. Using an objective measure to assess personality and motivational preferences can help identify areas of real strength or greater challenges for neurodiverse individuals within a particular role. Identifying strengths of preferences can have the benefits of informing further discussions around preferences and role requirements and how such differences can be accommodated and understood for all individuals assessed.

The full findings from the SHL research is on their website.

Lets keep talking

It is important to understand and appreciate neurodiversity to allow workplaces to be inclusive and supportive. Candidates and colleagues should be encouraged to feel comfortable disclosing such conditions and reasonable adjustments should be made. We will continue to play our part in supporting neurodiversity within our client projects and our own practices and enjoy the benefits this brings.

As the CIPD Neurodiversity at work guide puts it:

The full benefits of neurodiversity inclusion are still being explored and understood – but it’s increasingly clear that this can have benefits both internally and externally. Early programmes are beginning to produce enticing, positive data – longer-term initiatives are now getting interest and recognition.

Let’s keep the conversation and research going in this area – we have come so far but there is much more we can do to move this forward. There is never a better time than now to engage, support and utilise diverse talent.

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