Not just altruism, but good business

If your company doesn’t actively embrace neurodiversity, lack of inclusivity is only part of the problem. You’re also leaving an enormous amount of talent on the table.

Trivia time!

Fewer than 2% percent of the population has red hair.
A surprising 8% of people are born with an extra rib.
Left-handedness is more common, at around 10%.
Guess what’s twice as common as being left-handed?

Being neurodivergent. Neurodivergence means you perceive and interact with the world differently and may have one or more diagnoses such as ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, or Dyspraxia.

Twenty percent. One in five people. That’s a lot of people. And up to this point, the neurodivergent community has been largely invisible within the contemporary workforce.

That’s partly because unemployment rates for neurodivergent people run as high as 80%, according to the Harvard Business Review. It’s also because neurodivergence is deeply stigmatized, and neurodivergent people who are employed often feel like they have to “mask” at work, meaning actively hide their neurodivergence in order to appear as neurotypical.

It’s exhausting. And I’m speaking from experience. I’m proudly neurodivergent, and I’ve experienced what happens when you’re in a work environment that’s not welcoming to neurodivergence.

What happens when you work for a company that embraces neurodiversity

That’s why I’m so proud to work for Alludo, where being neurodivergent is not only okay, but is actively embraced. I’ve been so fortunate to receive enthusiastic encouragement as I become an increasingly vocal neurodiversity advocate.

As a company, we thrive on the diversity of thought, background, experience, identity, and neural processes that our team members bring to the table. As a company, we recognize the immense potential and unique perspectives that can only come when people think differently.

One of the things I’m most proud of about Alludo’s stance on neurodiversity is that it’s not a PR stunt or fodder for bragging rights or something that gets posted about but never acted upon.  Because let’s be clear: diversity is not just a word. It’s an action. And that action has to take place every day.

Taking action at Alludo

Including different voices in the conversation is a start, but that’s not enough.

When it comes to any form of diversity, bringing voices to the table must include ensuring that these voices are heard and respected.

At Alludo, we’ve implemented practices to better include our neurodivergent employees. We created an Employee Resource Group focused on allyship, which amplifies these voices while creating a safe space and a fantastic forum to discuss how the company can support our neurodivergent team members.

We’ve also become a leader in promoting freedom at work, empowering employees to work where, when, and how they do their best work. We encourage people to bring their whole selves to work, without the need to mask, so they can do their jobs to the best of their unique abilities.

What happens when you embrace neurodiversity in the workplace?

I’m thrilled that our action on neurodiversity has transformed the culture of our workplace. For one thing, we’ve become sought after by incredible talent specifically because of our stance on neurodiversity and our commitment to promoting freedom at work.

And that’s just the start. As a company, we’re people-first but data-driven. And it’s absolutely in our best interest to ensure that people can truly shine in their roles, without the limitations imposed by traditional workplace structures. It’s also in our best interest to attract and retain people who will keep us out of ruts by approaching problems differently and coming up with unique, innovative solutions. That requires diversity of thought. Groupthink is poisonous for innovation. Neurodiversity is the antidote.

What companies can do to embrace neurodiversity

I’m thrilled that Alludo has emerged as a leader in embracing neurodiversity within the workplace, but we’re well aware that we still have work to do. This is an evolving, ongoing process, and we’re committed to it.

Since we’re already on this journey, we want to share what we’ve learned. For companies looking to embrace neurodiversity, awareness is a great place to start. There’s a major lack of understanding surrounding neurodiversity, and that lack is why the stigma is so stubbornly ingrained. This stigma creates barriers that span from the hiring process to the daily work environment, performance evaluations, and promotions. It’s critical for leaders to understand that neurodivergence doesn’t mean reduced neuro-ability; rather, it means different neuro-ability. And that can difference is frequently a major advantage.

In addition to fostering awareness of neurodiversity, here are five best practices to make a workplace more inclusive:

  1. Focus on outcomes, not inputs.
  1. Implement Employee Resource Groups for neurodivergent employees and their allies.
  1. Include neurodiversity at every stage: recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding.
  1. Understand that supporting neurodivergent individuals doesn’t mean lowering standards; it’s about fostering their best performance.
  1. Reduce stigma through open communication about your commitment to embrace neurodiversity. Identify and support internal advocates.

Again, enhancing inclusion isn’t just about altruism. And it’s definitely not a PR stunt. It’s a competitive advantage. We’re going to keep learning, advocating, and sharing insights as we continue the journey toward a more inclusive and innovative work environment. We’re walking the walk, and we’d love for you to walk with us.

In today’s diverse workforce, it’s crucial for businesses to create an inclusive environment that supports the needs of all employees. Neurodivergent individuals, who have unique neurological differences, bring valuable perspectives and talents to the table. To help neurodivergent employees thrive and contribute their best, businesses should prioritize their well-being and provide the necessary support.

In a recent global survey of nearly 1,000 neurodivergent employees, we uncovered what it takes to optimize their work experience. Here are five ways businesses can create an optimal work environment for neurodivergent employees to thrive:

  1. Give employees the freedom and flexibility to work from home.

    Neurodivergent individuals often have different sensory needs and may find it challenging to focus in a traditional office setting. By offering the option to work remotely, businesses can create a comfortable and productive work environment. Remote work eliminates potential distractions and allows neurodivergent employees to structure their workday in a way that best suits their needs.

  2. Encourage people to take regular breaks throughout their workday.

    Extended periods of focused work can be mentally and physically draining for neurodivergent individuals. Heck, it can be draining for anyone. Encouraging regular breaks not only promotes well-being but also enhances productivity. Breaks offer the opportunity to recharge, process information, and regulate sensory input. Employers can educate employees about the importance of breaks and create designated spaces (for those coming into an office) or relaxation areas where employees can unwind and rejuvenate.

  3. Implement company-wide mental health and/or wellness days.

    Mental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, and it’s especially important to prioritize in the workplace. By implementing company-wide mental health and wellness days, businesses send a clear message of support to their neurodivergent employees. These dedicated days allow individuals to focus on self-care, engage in activities that promote mental well-being, and seek necessary support. Employers should actively encourage employees to utilize these days for a break from their routine and to prioritize self-care.

  4. Encourage employees to use all their allotted PTO, without repercussions.

    Neurodivergent employees may experience heightened stress or burnout due to the demands of their work and the challenges they face in navigating the neurotypical world. Encouraging the use of all allocated Paid Time Off (PTO) without any negative consequences fosters a culture that values work-life balance and self-care. Employers should communicate that taking time off is not only acceptable but also essential for maintaining optimal performance and well-being.

  5. Foster a culture of flexibility where people can work whenever they work best.

    Flexibility is key to creating an inclusive work environment for neurodivergent employees. Recognizing that individuals have different peak productivity times and work preferences allows employers to accommodate diverse needs. By providing flexible work schedules or options for personalized adjustments, businesses empower neurodivergent employees to work when they are most focused and productive, ultimately leading to better outcomes for both the individual and the organization. 

Looking for more neurodivergent resources? Check out 5 strengths neurodivergent employees bring to the workplace.

Talent left behind 

In a tight talent market, can you afford to alienate 20% of potential candidates and employees? What if that 20% held disproportionate capability for accelerated innovation, creative problem-solving, and smashing through plateaus? 

What if you were not only alienating that 20% right now, but—actively or inadvertently—stigmatizing them? 

We’re talking about literally hundreds of millions of people, based on estimated global employment figures. 

What do they have in common? They are neurodivergent. That means they have one or more conditions that lead to them perceiving and interacting with the world differently than the neurotypical majority. These conditions may include ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, and others. 

The subject of pervasive discrimination—particularly in the workplace, where neurodivergent people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed and far less likely to hold leadership positionsi—we at Alludo believe neurodiversity is poised for a major reimagining.  

An ambitious new survey 

With a new ERG devoted to neurodiversity—sponsored by a member of our ELT who is outspoken about her own neurodivergence—we’re leading the way on welcoming, embracing, and outright celebrating neurodiversity within our ranks. We truly believe diversity of all kinds leads to better outcomes. According to one study, companies that offer an inclusive environment for neurodivergent workforce segment achieved 28% higher revenue, 30% greater profit margins and about double the net income compared to their competitors.    

What gets measured gets improved, so we wanted to take a pulse on neurodiversity in the workforce today.  

What are employers missing about supporting neurodiversity? 

What do neurodivergent individuals say about how, when, and where they do their best work? 

What benefits can employer gain by better supporting neurodivergent employees? 

How can the future of work take neurodiversity into account to drive better outcomes? 

These are just a few of the questions Alludo set out to answer with a new research project. Alludo surveyed nearly 1,000 neurodivergent individuals and compiled the results in an eye-opening report that should be a must-read for leaders, allies, neurodivergent individuals, and anyone who wants to simultaneously accelerate innovation and tolerance. 

The gap heard ‘round the world 

Respondents report a major gap between the environment needed to leverage their exceptional capabilities, and the environment they’re currently in. While neurodiversity looks different for everyone, respondents report having particular strengths in creativity, flexibility, outside-the-box thinking, observational skills, pattern recognition, and problem-solving.  

The flip side: They frequently reported struggles with signature characteristics of a classic, structured work environment—especially one with in-office mandates. Distractions, interpersonal communication, eye contact, sitting still—none of these make respondents less skilled or talented. They all have the potential to make respondents less able to do their best work. 

What happens next? 

The survey not only into the unique capabilities and challenges of neurodivergent individuals, but how these insights can be evaluated and turned into a better working environment with better outcomes for everyone. We have a long way to go, but this information is a critical first step. 

Read the exclusive full report here. 

i Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics