The workplace is not a happy place for many neurodivergent people. According to our research, the majority of diagnosed autistics, dyspraxics and dyscalculics reported that people in their workplaces behave in ways that exclude them, with just under half of dyslexics and people who have ADHD/ADD having similar experiences.
However, the research did indicate that the third sector and public sector seem to be more inclusive places, where either more neurodivergent people are employed or it’s more acceptable to be open about the conditions.
Yet neurotypicals seem unaware of this - a major finding of the research is that workplaces are far less inclusive of neurodivergent people than neurotypical people would like to believe.
While the majority of neurotypicals think their workplace encourages behaviours that are inclusive of neurodivergent people, half, or less, of autistic people, people with attention deficit disorders (ADHD/ADD) and dyscalculics disagree.
The extent to which a workplace is perceived to lack inclusivity varies according to the nature of an employee’s neurodivergent condition. Autistic people consistently report worse experiences compared with people who have other forms of neurodivergence. Dyscalculics and people who have ADHD/ADD are also inclined to say that the workplace lacks inclusivity. Dyslexics and dyspraxics enjoy a better workplace experience than other neurodivergents – although, even their experiences are not as positive as neurotypicals tend to imagine.
Many neurotypical respondents are confident that reasonable adjustments for neurodivergents are made in their workplaces during recruitment and selection processes, but many autistics, dyscalculics and dyslexics disagreed. This suggests that leaders and managers may believe they are making adjustments for neurodivergent people but are either not making sufficient adjustments or, perhaps more importantly, not making the right adjustments.
There does appear to be a high level of awareness around neurodivergent conditions among respondents to the study. More people were knowledgeable about dyslexia than other forms of neurodiversity. The majority knew at least a little about ADHD/ADD, autism, dyslexia and Tourette’s, with fewer than 3% saying that they had never heard of these conditions. Dyscalculia and dyspraxia are the least-known conditions.
A perception gap between what managers think is happening and how that is experienced by others in the organisation is a consistent and recurrent finding almost irrespective of the issue being researched. Nevertheless, this research highlights how detrimental this perception gap can be on the day-to-day experience of neurodivergents at work.
Although our findings show there are varying levels of inclusion in different sectors, there is a serious absence of references to neurodiversity in official policies and procedures - it is estimated one in seven people are neurodivergent so it is easy to imagine that this must be impacting talent acquisition and retention. A fully inclusive workforce is not only likely to be more innovative and productive but also more compassionate, an environment that is good for all employees.
Read the recommendations from new report here to help your organisation create a more inclusive workplace and benefit from the diversity of thought neurodivergents bring to the business.