Adrienne Lawrence

Legal analyst, law professor & award-winning author

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Opinion

Time for employers to see neurodiversity as a qualification, not disability

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Adrienne Lawrence

Legal analyst, law professor & award-winning author

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An estimated 15% to 20% of the world’s population is neurodiverse, and many of those individuals are not part of the global workforce. The unemployment rates for neurodivergent people are often much higher than those for people with physical disabilities. In the U.S., for example, the unemployment rate for neurodivergent individuals can be as high as 40%. In response, some companies have changed their hiring practices and developed more inclusive programs to level the playing field for neurodivergent employees.

Watch the video above as Straight Arrow News contributor Adrienne Lawrence argues that much more needs to be done to fully integrate these bright minds into the workforce.


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The following is an excerpt from the above video:

Because in order for that to happen, though, organizations must improve their inclusivity efforts, deprogram themselves from excluding others because of their personalities not necessarily fitting the mold.

Look at how tech can accommodate, such as providing chatbots for people who may not want to necessarily interface with HR. Practice neuroinclusivity so people who thrive in different environments can thrive in your environment.

America is currently facing unemployment rates, as I mentioned, as high as 30% to 40% from neurodivergent adults. That’s huge. And that also means that there is a loss in economy there, in benefits to our GDP, because individuals aren’t being allowed in the door. Research before the pandemic, in fact, said that about 50% of autistic adults in the U.S. were unemployed.

Bill Gates is an autist, as is Elon Musk, Amanda Seales, Eminem, Lionel Messi, Tim Burton, Dan Ackroyd, the list goes on and on of talented individuals, including myself.

[LAWRENCE]

From being able to hyper focus and multitask with the tenacity of 10 Highly caffeinated women to having the power to predict the future due to enhanced pattern recognition to mastering a keen eye for detail that locates errors with precision, people with neuro divergent minds can bring a host of benefits to the workforce. The incredible value of neurodiversity has long been recognized in the tech world. And as recently reported in The Wall Street Journal, workforces outside of Silicon Valley are now finally embracing the bad Asri that people with neuro types like mine bring to the table. accounting firms, retailers, banks and other employers are just now starting to tap into the rich reservoir of neurodiverse workers recognizing that our unique skill sets can take their organizations to new heights. While that is absolutely great. Still, many neurodivergent workers remain under employed or unemployed. The United States is currently facing unemployment rates as high as 30 to 40%. For neuro diverse individuals, that’s three times higher than the rate for people with physical disabilities, and also eight times higher than the rate for non disabled people. That must change. If companies want to take home more coins stay relevant and ahead of the innovation curve. They must intentionally invest in workers with different neuro types, ADHD, autism and the like are just that different neuro types. They are not necessarily disabilities. Rather, they simply are a different way of communicating and processing information. It’s because our neurological mapping is different than that of neurotypicals. That difference can bring considerable strengths that translate to big benefits for business. Some organizations outside of tech are finally getting it at Ernst and Young. For example, the neuro divergent workforce has grown more than 10 fold in the past four years. The leader of the accounting conglomerates neuro diversity efforts says that the number of neuro divergent employees have increased substantially because many are exceptional at doing things like labeling for generative AI. The company recognizes and values this skill set. So instead of passing on people who may not be particularly chatty, or may prefer to conduct their interview via zoom, Ernst and Young is striving to be more inclusive in their hiring practices. That’s more of the anomaly than it is the actual practice, though, too often do organizations and those who conduct hiring look for people who look and act like them. Because of that affinity bias, they miss out on the values different people bring to the table, and as a result, they lose out on valuable human capital. That is utterly foolish. Wouldn’t you rather be able to wet the legend at the bank than to gossip with your co worker about nonsense? Well, that may mean that you have to have a co worker who’s a little bit different. And that should be okay. Because in order for that to happen, though, organizations must improve their inclusivity efforts, deprogram themselves from excluding others because of their personalities, not necessarily fitting the mold. Look at how tech can accommodate such as providing chatbots for people who may not want to necessarily interface with HR practice neuro inclusivity. So people who thrive in different environments can thrive in your environment. America is currently facing unemployment rates, as I mentioned, as high as 30 to 40% from neurodivergent adults. That’s huge. And that also means that there is a loss in economy there in benefits to our GDP because individuals aren’t being allowed in the door. Research before the pandemic, in fact, said that about 50% of autistic adults in the US were unemployed. Bill Gates is an artist as is Elon Musk, Amanda seals, Eminem, Lionel Messi, Tim Burton, Dan Ackroyd, the list goes on and on of talented individuals, including myself, there are so many of us out there, and so many incredible talents we can bring to the table when organizations start seeing neurodiversity as a qualification rather than as a disability. Because if that happens, that means we all win.

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