Embracing Neurodiversity: Celebrating Differences, Creating Inclusive Cultures

Katie Austin

Minutes
19th March 2024
Neurodiversity, ED&I, Employee Experience

This week, from March 18th to 24th, we're celebrating Neurodiversity Week. This worldwide initiative challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences. It aims to transform how neurodivergent individuals are perceived and supported by providing schools, universities, and organisations with the opportunity to recognise the many talents and advantages of being neurodivergent, while creating more inclusive and equitable cultures that celebrate differences and empower every individual.

What is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity is the idea that it’s acceptable and normal for people’s brains to function differently from one another. Instead of thinking there’s a problem, or that a person has something wrong with them when people don’t operate similarly to others, neurodiversity embraces the differences in behavioural traits and brain functions as natural – and demonstrates just how diverse the human race is.  

The concept of neurodiversity was first introduced by sociologist Judy Singer (who is Autistic) during the fight for Autism awareness and rights, but the term now encompasses additional ways that brains function differently, including ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia and more.  

There are two sides of neurodiversity – Neurotypical and Neurodivergent.  

Neurotypical  
These are people with standard brain processing and functioning. Neurotypical people often do not know they are neurotypical and are just seen as “normal”  

Neurodivergent  
These are people whose brain function and processing deviates from what is considered as “typical”. Neurodivergent people are usually made aware that their brain functions differently and are seen as “abnormal”  

Instead of trying to fix neurodivergent brains to make them neurotypical, neurodiversity advocacy focuses on embracing and celebrating them. There is much more understanding now, and we can see that many differences are beneficial. The qualities and traits that neurodivergence creates are widely varied, and include everything from high perception, to strong abilities with computer systems, to enhanced creativity.  

Between 30-40% of the population in the UK are thought to be neurodiverse.

Neurodiversity in the workplace

Recognising and including neurodivergent people in the world of work isn't just about meeting legal requirements or ethical obligations — it's about harnessing the power of diversity to create more dynamic, innovative, and equitable workplaces for everyone.  

Diversity and inclusion, have been shown to enhance creativity, innovation, and problem-solving within teams and organizations. Neurodivergent individuals often possess unique perspectives, talents, and abilities that can contribute positively to workplace dynamics.  

Secondly, creating an inclusive environment for neurodivergent employees fosters a sense of belonging and well-being, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention rates. When individuals feel valued and supported at work, they are more likely to thrive and reach their full potential.  

Furthermore, embracing neurodiversity can help address talent shortages in certain industries by tapping into a pool of skilled individuals who may have been overlooked or underutilized in the past. By adapting work environments to accommodate diverse cognitive styles and needs, organisations can unlock the full potential of their workforce and drive sustainable business growth.
It's not too late to get your organisation involved – find out more or sign up here for a number of free events and resources here
More like this?
• You might also like to read this People Lab blog from 2022, which looks at different traits associated with neurodiversity and how you can best support them in the workplace
• Or you can read this popular blog from our founder Emma’s husband Ted, and son Harry who are both Aspergers - or you can watch this podcast recorded live
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