Around 1 in 7 of the UK population is neurodivergent. According to NHS Health Education England, neurodiversity is the diversity of our minds and brains, following many differences in us as individuals, our brain function, and behavioural traits [1].

It should be noted that neurodiversity does not affect intelligence, this is a common misconception.

The most typically occurring conditions that are classed as disabilities under the Equality Act 2010 [2], include:

  • Dyslexia: A general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letter, and other symbols.
  • Dyspraxia: A disorder that affects movement and co-ordination. It can affect tasks that require balance, sports and fine motor skills.
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder): A mental health disorder that includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviour.
  • Autism and Asperger’s syndrome: Generally associated with social and communication difficulties. Those with autism often engage in repetitive behaviours.
  • Tourette Syndrome: A neurological disorder characterised by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalisations called tics
  • Acquired Brain Injury: This refers to any kind of brain injury that happens after birth. Can be caused by blows to head, alcohol and drug use, or oxygen deprivation
  • Chronic neurological conditions: Any disorder of the nervous system. Structural, biochemical, or electrical abnormalities in the brain, spinal cord, or other nerves

Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Employers are obliged to put in place “reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities under the Equalities Act 2010.

Current statistics on Neurodiversity in the workplace:

  • Approximately 25% of CEOs are dyslexic
  • 96% of employers think there are benefits to having a neurodiverse workplace
  • Only 16% of autistic people are in full time paid work
  • 75% of creative industry employers do not have policies in place to support neurodivergent staff
  • Just one in five autistic people in the UK are in any form of employment [3]

Current Government Strategy

Within Government, there are working support groups that have been formed to promote diversity in the civil service.

Analysis Function Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2021-2024 [4]:

This was developed to support those who work in analytical roles in government. It is committed to making the Government Analysis Function an accessible place for everyone to work.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond is Head of the Government Analysis Function and National Statistician [4]. Sir Ian has stated that those working in analytical jobs in government have a responsibility to reflect the diverse society that they serve.

Consequently, diversity and inclusion should be at the heart of government analysis and decisions.

Catherine Bean is a Fast Stream Social Researcher at the Office for National Statistics (ONS), she is also autistic [5].  Catherine is a co-chair of the ONS Neurodiversity Support group and a member of the Analysis Function Diversity and Inclusion working group.

Catherine discusses the need for working support groups such as the Analysis Function Diversity and Inclusion group:

“The working world supports neurotypical people by default, and often neurodivergent people are left to advocate on our own behalf to get reasonable adjustments. Without good support, neurodivergent people like me may not progress in our organisations or may even leave jobs altogether.”

“The best advice I can give is to have conversations with your colleagues to understand how work can work best for everyone. Make sure that everyone’s thoughts and opinions are listened to. You may find there are better ways of working that you hadn’t even considered, or the answers to problems you didn’t even know existed.”

The Neurodiversity at Work Guide

The Neurodiversity at Work Guide was published in 2018 by the CIPD [6]. It provides guidance for HR professionals on supporting neurodivergent employees.

The guide has two main aims: first, to raise awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace among employers; and second, to inspire more employers into action – taking steps to encourage neurodiverse job applicants, remove potential ‘friction points’ in the hiring process and supporting staff to achieve their potential.

Summative excerpts from the report include:

‘To be neurodiversity smart, firms should strive to develop a language and acceptance of neuro-difference, and to celebrate and leverage neurodiverse strengths while taking steps to accommodate – and not belittle – any specific challenges that an individual may face.”

‘While neurodivergent people may face their own, specific challenges in the workplace environment, or with particular tasks, they can bring unique and valuable strengths to their work.’

‘Creativity and big picture thinking are likely key factors in the extraordinary link between dyslexia and entrepreneurship.’

Mental health and neurodiversity are not the same; however, the terms are often mixed up and the difference between them misunderstood.’

The report is broken down into four sections:

  • Why neurodiversity matters
  • Common neurodivergent thinking styles
  • Making your people management approach neurodiversity smart
  • Being an inclusive and neurodiverse workforce

These could act as points of reference for workplaces and HR teams when starting conversations around inclusivity and neurodiversity in their organisations.

[1] Health Education England NHS, Neurodiversity Support

[2] The Equality Act 2010

[3] Universal Music UL, 2020. Creative Differences A handbook for embracing neurodiversity in the creative industries

[4] Analysis Function Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2021-2024

[5] Bean, Catherine. 2021. Co-chair of the ONS Neurodiversity Support group and a member of the Analysis Function Diversity and Inclusion working group

[6] CIPD, 2018. The Neurodiversity at Work Guide

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Around 1 in 7 of the UK population is neurodivergent. This article explores neurodiversity, highlighting issues surrounding diversity, inclusion and understanding neurodivergent people in the workforce.

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