Neurodiversity is the concept that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are a natural and valuable part of human experience. The exact percentage of neurodiverse people versus neurotypical people in Ireland remains to be determined, as reliable statistics in this area are unavailable. However, according to a study by the National Council for Special Education in 2019, approximately 4.5% of school-going children in Ireland have a neurodiversity diagnosis, including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia. Around 5% to 10% of the global population has dyslexia.
The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 160 children will have Autism Spectrum Disorder worldwide in 2019.
Neurodiversity in the Workplace is the understanding that employees with neurodiverse conditions can bring unique skills, perspectives, and creativity.
The benefit of employing a neurodivergent workforce
As recognition and understanding of creating an inclusive work culture have gained momentum, so too has the number of businesses who recognise the benefits of having a neurodiverse team as a real benefit.
Global companies already include Neurodiversity in their workplaces; corporations such as Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, and JP Morgan leverage a neurodivergent workforce. These companies note how skills necessary for technical jobs, such as the ability to concentrate on one subject for prolonged periods and superior data skills, are held by candidates with autism.
Another example is Yahoo, which created a neurodiversity employee resource group to gain insight into how employees see their strengths and challenges within the work environment. Yahoo’s head of production, Margaux Joffe, has ADHD and founded the Kaleidoscope Society for Women with ADHD, helping women with ADHD find lasting employment. Joffe noted that hiring a neurodivergent workforce is not to comply with regulation but to value different types of minds.
Other companies with neurodiverse initiatives include:
Accenture Ireland: Accenture has launched a program called “Accenture Neurodiversity Centre of Excellence” to identify and hire neurodiverse individuals.
Intel Ireland: Intel has created a “Neurodiversity and Inclusion” program to create a more diverse and inclusive environment for neurodiverse employees.
SAP Ireland: SAP has launched a “Neurodiversity Inclusion Program” to support recruiting and retaining neurodiverse employees.
KPMG Ireland: has launched a program called “KPMG Neurodiversity” to help identify and recruit neurodiverse individuals.
When initiatives like this are added up, the opportunities available for those within any neurodiversity, including those with autism or ADHD or other processing differences, are vast.
Both companies and employees benefit from including a diverse workforce, and maximising the opportunity each employee provides should always be of paramount concern to a growing business.
Open dialogue about Neurodiversity is Important
Creating a space for open dialogue about Neurodiversity is essential to creating an inclusive work environment. Employers can create a more diverse and inclusive team by fostering an atmosphere of acceptance, understanding, and respect.
In addition, initiating dialogue around Neurodiversity can reduce the stigma associated with neurological conditions and create a positive environment for neurodiverse employees.