Bruin Webinar: Thinking Differently about Talent Management: Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage

On 16th June guest speaker Nikki Hayford, Founder of UnikSeek, in partnership with Bruin’s Virtual HR Forum delivered the session ‘Thinking Differently About Talent Management: Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage.

Attended by HR and senior management professionals from the financial services industry, the event introduced the topic of Neurodiversity and autism spectrum conditions (ASC), the benefits of Neurodiverse employees in the financial services sector, and effective talent management strategies for attracting and retaining Neurodiverse talent.

It is estimated that 1 in 7 people in the UK have Neurodiverse conditions, however, organisations are often unaware of the proportion and needs of their Neurodiverse employees or the value that this talent pool can offer. Advantages of Neurodiverse Talent Amongst the many benefits of Neurodiversity for employers are productivity gains, quality improvement, boosts in innovative capabilities, and increased employee engagement. And each variation of Neurodiversity offers its own particular advantages:

Thinking Types
Neurodiverse thinkers are typically split into Visual Thinkers, Pattern Thinkers and Word or Fact Thinkers. Pattern Thinkers in particular have a number of skills that are extremely desirable in financial services, which includes problem solving abilities, attention to detail, and persistence, as well as being highly analytical, all of which are enormous assets in roles such as Actuaries, Financial Analysts, Accountants. Auditors, and Data Analysts. In addition to these skills, Neurodiverse employees are typically extremely conscientious, honest, loyal and reliable, with far greater levels of retention than the Neurotypical employees.

Neurodiverse Employment in the UK
However, despite these obvious advantages, Neurodiverse talent is hugely underrepresented in the UK workforce. Currently only 16% of autistic people in the UK are in full time employment, but 77% of unemployed autistic people want to work. 1/3 of adults with ADHD are jobless at any one time and 50% of adults hide dyslexia from employers and colleagues.

Barriers and Challenges
It is the case that some of the challenges experienced by Neurodiverse people can be barriers to employment, however it is important for employers to recognise that the issue often lies not with Neurodiverse people, but with hiring processes that define talent too narrowly. Especially with reliance on job interviews, which are biased against people with atypical manners of interaction. This bias often goes hand in hand with employment perspectives that view Neurodiversity as ‘the problem’ rather than addressing the inappropriate management of diversity.

Attracting and Retaining Neurodiverse Talent
To attract and retain Neurodiverse talent, having a People Centred Approach is key. Many Neurodiverse people will have had negative experiences as a result of their condition and are therefore not always comfortable in disclosing this information, either during the recruitment process or in employment. It is therefore essential that organisations review their policies and processes, and are able to clearly demonstrate that their workplace is supportive and inclusive. Suggestions for focus include:

1. Sourcing candidates from Neurodiverse communities
2. Ensuring that your Employer Brand is fully inclusive
3. Demonstrating how you support your Neurodiverse staff
4. Removing bias from every point in your recruitment process
5. Offering support throughout the recruitment process
6. Offering reasonable adjustments – to everyone!

How Can Organisations Support Their Neurodiverse Employees?
By offering reasonable adjustments to all employees enables those who are Neurodiverse to feel supported and engaged, but also allows people who may not be aware they are Neurodiverse to fulfil their full potential. Adjustments are usually cost effective and cover a number of areas across:
1. Aural
2. Visual
3. Environment
4. Working Practices
5. Communication
6. Support Ecosystem

Bruin is an award winning diversity recruiter and is delighted to be working in partnership with Nikki and Unik Seek to broaden access to the financial services sector for Neurodiverse people, and assist organisations in harnessing the value of their existing and future Neurodiverse talent.

For more information about the competitive advantages of Neurodiverse talent, how to retain Neurodiverse employees and design an inclusive recruitment strategy using a People Centred Approach, please contact:
Kirstin Duffy (COO, Bruin) kirstin.duffy@bruinfinancial.com
Matthew Tynan (Consultant, Bruin) matthew.tynan@bruinfinancial.com
Nikki Hayford (Founder, Unik Seek) nikki@unikseek.co.uk