Victoria Hill, Director of Diversity and Social Impact, Advanced Clinical
In May and October of this year, I had the opportunity to facilitate a staff training entitled Understanding & Valuing Neurodiversity. This training deepened our understanding of Neurodiversity and expanded our view of “normal”. We learned to appreciate that everyone learns differently, and how to reduce the stigmas around learning and thinking differences. The most important take-away was learning how to create a more accepting and inclusive environment so all members of Advanced Clinical can thrive!
We learned that being Neurodivergent means someone who thinks differently than the majority (Neurotypical). There is a large spectrum of Neurodiversity which includes ADHD, Anxiety, OCD, Dyslexia, Bipolar Disease, Autism, and many more.
The best part of the training was that it created a safe space for our employees to share stories about their beautiful and unique minds! Various employees shared stories about triggers, roadblocks, and how they can thrive as a Neurodivergent employee. We also had leaders share how they accommodate their Neurodivergent employees through communication and empathy.
There are so many ways to create an inclusive culture for our Neurodiverse staff including:
- Updating Job Descriptions so the requirements are clear and concise. Also, using different formats such as video clips to accompany text-based job descriptions
- In interviews, be direct, limit hypothetical or abstract questions, and focus on skills
- Evaluations should be given to all employees, but more frequent feedback may be a helpful accommodation for Neurodiverse employees
- Providing workspace, work schedule, or other workplace accommodations makes a significant difference in ensuring positive, productive experiences for neurodiverse employees
Change can start with one person! Below are few ideas that every employee can practice to create a more inclusive culture:
- Listen to understand
- Ask questions and create genuine relationships
- Be patient, don’t be quick to judge
- Be ready and willing to accommodate
- Continue the conversation/educate others
- Foster a culture of empathy and openness
- Use of respectful, preferred language and labels (ask don’t assume)
- Leaders – avoid giving vague instructions, explain mistakes in private
- Communication is key
- Identify gifts/strengths
- Recognize that no two people are the same
Let’s start leveraging neurodiverse strengths while also taking steps to accommodate and not belittle any specific challenges an individual may face. Neurodiversity is a help – not a hindrance! Neurodivergent people have superpowers or gifts which are advantageous to the workforce including but not limited to being hyper-focused and creative.
Hiring and retaining neurodiverse employees can provide any organization with a competitive edge that brings measurable benefits, both financially and in terms of an inclusive safe workplace culture.