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.

Did you know that up to 20% of the global population is neurodivergent? That means they perceive and interact with the world differently than the neurotypical majority, and have one or more neurological differences that may include ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, and others. 

While many of these individuals face challenges when it comes to things like social interaction and organization, these obstacles are outweighed by the incredible strengths they bring to the table. When given the space and psychological safety to thrive, neurodivergent people can significantly enrich an organization’s capacity for innovation and problem solving and can help challenge the status quo. 

Based on feedback from a recent global survey of nearly 1,000 neurodivergent individuals, let’s explore the top five strengths of neurodivergent employees and how these strengths can help your business go further, faster: 

1. Creative, flexible, and outside-the-box thinking   

Neurodivergent employees are masters of creative and unconventional thinking. They excel at approaching problems from new perspectives and coming up with innovative solutions. As more conventional work becomes automated with the use of AI, the ability to innovate, think outside the box, and approach problems with entirely different frameworks will become significantly more valuable. 

2. Strong observational skills and attention to detail   

Leveraging their photographic memories, neurodivergent employees possess a remarkable ability to pay attention to the smallest of details. Their self-proclaimed perfectionism drives them to spot the smallest details that others might miss. This ability makes them particularly valuable in roles where accuracy is critical.  

3. Ability to stay focused for long periods of time   

Neurodivergent employees have an impressive capacity to maintain focus for long periods. Their hyperfocus and determination also means that they rarely give up on difficult tasks.  

4. Excellent ability to recognize patterns   

Neurodivergent employees have excellent pattern recognition skills. Their ability for spotting patterns and trends enhances operational processes and improves efficiency across various tasks. This strength proves particularly beneficial in roles that involve customer service and analytics.  

5. Excellent math skills   

Neurodivergent individuals often exhibit extraordinary math and logical reasoning skills.  According to Harvard Business Review’s Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage, neurodivergent individuals possess a unique ability to understand complex mathematics, identify obscure patterns in data, and memorize intricate details that others might miss. 

It’s time for the global workforce to recognize that neurodiversity is diversity. Neurodivergent employees can help organizations break through plateaus that have been plaguing their teams for months, years, or decades because they kept approaching the challenges with the same types of minds. Fresh ways of thinking are especially important during challenging economic times. 

In an ever-accelerating race for competitive advantage, employers who embrace the strengths of neurodivergent employees fully are likely to find themselves moving to the front. Embracing neurodiversity means embracing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to work. The future is about true freedom and flexibility in the workplace. Let people show you their full potential by working where, when, and how they do their best work. 

I’m a neurodivergent executive. I’m lucky to work in an industry that allows alignment between my role and my own interests, and specifically with a company that views my neurodivergence as an asset rather than a hindrance. 

Working in marketing and communications, I get to leverage many of my neurodivergent strengths and characteristics—both to my advantage and to the advantage of the company. Creativity, innovation, problem-solving, and leading with emotional intelligence are where I shine, and I love that I get to use those skills every day. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy (in fact, it’s rarely easy). 

Measuring up 

The corporate world is built for neurotypical people. I have faced my share of challenges navigating this world, with its relentless pace and rigid demands on schedules and approach to work. I’ve met and battled hurdle after hurdle trying to measure up against a measuring stick that wasn’t made for me. I know I’m not alone.  

From the early days of my career, and even as a student, technology has been a constant ally. I’ve spent my life using technology to lower barriers and help bring out my strengths. I wouldn’t be where I am without it.  

Finding the right tools 

I’m vocal about embracing neurodiversity at work, and that means being vocal about the ways technology can do for others what it has done for me. In recent years, technology has emerged as a game changer for neurodivergent people, providing tools and accommodations that cater to their unique needs. 

As technology becomes ever more personalized and tailored to our needs, it becomes an even more powerful ally, helping neurodivergent people be more successful and productive at work. 

Of course, technology is always evolving. The tools I use today are different from those I started with. Discovering the right tools for me is transformative. One tool that has made a major impact for me recently is Parallels Toolbox. To be clear, I work for the company that sells this product. But full disclosure: of the many products Alludo sells, this one is by far my favorite because of the way it complements the way I work. 

How Parallels Toolbox empowers me: A neurodivergent use case 

Software like Parallels Toolbox has made me exponentially more productive. It has so many features that streamline my daily tasks and make me more efficient and less distracted. It allows me to stay focused on the task at hand and get more done with less stress. 

Neurodivergence isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. Far from it. While I know how well Parallels Toolbox works for me, I also feel comfortable recommending it to neurodivergent (and neurotypical!) colleagues because of the wide range of features that can be harnessed to help meet individual needs. Here are a few of my favorite features: 

  • Break Time: Break Time is a simple tool that reminds users to take regular breaks from their work. This can be particularly helpful for neurodivergent individuals, who may struggle with time management or have difficulty taking breaks due to hyperfocus. 
  • Presentation Mode: For those who experience anxiety or sensory overload during presentations, Presentation Mode can be a lifesaver. It disables notifications and distractions, allowing the user to fully concentrate on their presentation without interruptions. 
  • Clipboard History: As someone who regularly juggles multiple tasks, Clipboard History has been a lifesaver. It stores a record of my copied items, making it easy for me to access them later without losing track. (And when my ADHD brain forgets to paste something and then I copy over it, I can go back and retrieve anything I had copied in the past!) 
  • Focus on Window: This feature helps users concentrate on the task at hand by showing a single window and dimming other open windows. This is a major advantage for many neurodivergent individuals or anyone who is easily overwhelmed or distracted by visual clutter. 
  • Do Not Disturb: I am highly sensitive to interruptions (who isn’t?), and the Do Not Disturb feature allows users to temporarily silence notifications and alerts, providing a distraction-free environment that can be invaluable for those of us who are sensitive to interruptions. 
  • Date Countdown: I have been known to struggle with keeping track of deadlines and events. With Date Countdown, users can track important deadlines and events, which can help neurodivergent individuals who struggle with time management or forgetfulness to stay on top of their schedule. 
  • Recognize Text: This tool extracts text from images, which can be beneficial for dyslexic individuals or those who have difficulty reading small or unclear text. As the parent of a neurodivergent child, I can already see the ways in which this feature can support people who interact with information in different ways. 
  • Sleep Timer: I used to lose track of time while working late, affecting my sleep schedule. The Sleep Timer has helped me prioritize rest by automatically putting my computer to sleep at a set time. For those of us who are prone to hyper focus, this forced shutdown mechanism can make a big difference in our quality of life.! 
  • Window Manager: This feature helps organize and manage open windows, reducing visual clutter and making it easier for neurodivergent individuals, or anyone else, to focus on their work. 

It has taken me a long time to realize that the barriers I’ve faced aren’t because there’s something wrong with me. It’s because, again, I’m being measured against a standardized measuring stick that doesn’t take into account the many strengths I offer. Neurodivergence isn’t a lack; it’s a difference. And accommodation doesn’t mean there’s a problem; it means we get to find a solution that lets us work better and live better. 

Tools like Parallels Toolbox not only help neurodivergent people thrive in a neurotypical world, but also help them flex their unique skills. This benefits everyone. Let’s harness the power of technology to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all. 

Get started:Download Parallels Toolbox 
Learn more: Read the latestParallels Toolbox review from Macworld

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 

What’s it like when you’re neurodivergent but haven’t been diagnosed yet? It’s different for everyone, of course, but in my case, I spent decades trying to present myself the way I thought I should be. I struggled daily with things that seemed to come easily to others. When measured against neurotypical standards, I constantly came up short.

If you’d only apply yourself.

If you’d only focus and pay attention.

I heard these all the time. To me, they meant: If you’d only not be the way you are.

Advocating for neurodiversity

When I was finally diagnosed as neurodivergent as an adult, it was a relief. I began to lean into my neurodivergence, working with my strengths (and, it turns out, I do have a lot of strengths) and seeking accommodations and workarounds for things that are harder for me.

I’ve become a vocal advocate for embracing neurodiversity in the workplace, because I know firsthand what a monumental difference it can make when you’re part of an organization that not only recognizes but genuinely values diversity of thought. I’m fortunate to have found that in my current role, and I believe that what I experience here should be the rule, not the exception.

Now that I’m in the right work environment, I’m perceived as an effective executive and leader not in spite of my differences, but in many ways because of them. That’s important. And it’s not because people are indulging me. Neurodivergence like mine leads to breakthroughs and innovations. Homogenous groupthink never busted through plateaus. Filling a room with people of different backgrounds, experiences, and ways of thinking means challenging the status quo and going further, faster.

Everyone should feel safe to thoroughly, openly, and unapologetically be their whole, authentic selves at work, whether they’re neurotypical or neurodivergent. The world is just beginning to warm up to embracing neurodiversity, but overall, it’s still deeply stigmatized—especially in the workforce, let alone at the executive level. We have a long way to go. And I think the deeply rooted stigmatization of neurodiversity is a big miss for today’s workforce.

A competitive advantage

Tolerating neurodiversity isn’t enough. Sprinkling it in for the sake of tokenism isn’t enough. (For the record, that goes for other forms of diversity, too.) Diversity of thought is a gift, and it should be seen as such. I truly believe it’s a competitive advantage for businesses. And in order to really embrace neurodiversity, you have to create a safe space for it. It’s one thing to say that you welcome neurodiversity, and it’s another to have established an environment with such psychological safety that people are comfortable showing up as they are, leveraging their unique skills and different ways of approaching problems.

I can’t tell you exactly what gifts you’ll get by embracing neurodiversity in the workplace, because neurodiversity isn’t one-size-fits-all. For me, being able to show up as I am means offering up highly creative problem-solving. It means that when a crisis hits, I’m a go-to because I can be calm, strategic, and develop a crystal clear action plan. (I may not be able to put my laundry away in a reasonable time, but I am excellent in a crisis.) I’m an empathetic leader who has a knack for disarming people and encouraging transparency and authenticity.

Being neurodivergent is not all sunshine and rainbows, of course. Some of the neurotypical majority takes for granted how easy it is for them to get dressed in the morning, show up for work or stand up and give a presentation in front of others. The world is built for the neurotypical majority, and I still run up against barriers daily. I believe a remote-first, outcomes-oriented environment is an essential component of an inclusive workplace, and I wish more companies embraced it. This approach allows me (and people who share my circadian rhythm) to work where, when, and how I do my best work. (If you schedule a call at 8 a.m. ET, you can expect that I will decline or openly show up with limited brain capacity.)

Embracing neurodiversity in the workplace

My company Alludo is leading the way when it comes to embracing neurodiversity in the workplace, and we’re still learning. We recently launched an internal Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group, for which I’m the executive sponsor. I am so excited to have more conversations about the gifts of neurodiversity and the unique and varied obstacles we each face. Again, if you interview 100 neurodivergent people, you’ll hear 100 different sets of strengths and challenges. That’s why I can’t tell you exactly what to expect if you create an environment of psychological safety and embrace neurodiversity at your organization. But I can tell you that you, your employees, and your entire organization will be better off if you do.

Hi. My name is Becca Chambers, and I am a neurodivergent executive. 

What does neurodivergent mean? It’s a big question, but at a high level, neurodiverse populations are those who have diverse thinking styles and have conditions like, but not limited to, ADHD (that’s me!), autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and other diagnoses related to the way people perceive and interact with the world. 

According to numerous studies, around 20% of the world is neurodiverse. Yes, that’s a lot of people. It’s also important to call out that many neurodivergent people go undiagnosed and live their lives experiencing difficulties with organizational skills, social perception, and social interactions. Up to 80% of those on the autism spectrum face unemployment. It’s not because neurodivergent lack something or are less capable. It’s because the world was built for the neurotypical majority. When held against those standards, neurodivergent people are set up to struggle. Despite advancements in acceptance of mental health, there remains a significant stigma around neurodiversity. I believe some of the responsibility falls on leaders across all industries to help break down this stigma. At my company Alludo, I’m doing my part to help the company embrace and lean into neurodiversity. I’m proud that Alludo is on the forefront of leading this revolution and breaking the stigma for good. How are we doing it? For starters, Alludo isn’t afraid to hire great talent that is born out of diverse backgrounds, locations, and thinking styles. Here, we believe that neurodiversity—that is, diversity of thought and perspective—is diversity. And we know that diversity begets innovation and accelerates progress. It breaks through plateaus and ruts, allowing organizations to go further, faster. 

Bringing your true self to work

As SVP of Brand and Communications and a person who is neurodivergent, I’ve yet to work with a leadership team like the team at Alludo. For the first time in my career, I can finally be my whole, neurodivergent self. It’s a gift I’ve never been given until now. I have always walked a tightrope of balancing my gifts with my perceived shortcomings, struggling to present as neurotypical. How can we bring our absolute best and innovative selves to work if our thinking style is not embraced? (Spoiler: we can’t.)

Leaning into neurodiversity  

At Alludo, I am empowered to lean into my neurodiversity. I don’t hide it. I embrace my whole self, and by doing so, I give people around me permission to embrace their whole selves—neurodivergent or not. Even though Alludo is at the leading edge of this revolution, we’re nowhere near done yet. We have a wonderful and challenging journey ahead of us. We’re starting with a newly launched Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group, a safe space for neurodivergent employees and allies to discuss, share, and educate each other on the challenges and opportunities associated with neurodiversity.  

Until this point, the world has missed out on an incalculable volume of creativity, inspiration, and innovation stemming from stigma around neurodiversity. Now that we’ve started to break down that stigma, the possibilities are endless. I’m excited about where we’re going. I finally feel true freedom (one of Alludo’s values) in my career and won’t settle for anything less. And I want that same feeling for every one of the 1 in 5 people around the world who don’t fit the neurotypical majority.