This week, 13th – 17th March, is Neurodiversity Celebration Week, a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions around neurological differences.
Why should we do that then?
Neurodiversity in its various forms has been met with negativity and harmful assumptions over the years. Neurodiversity Celebration Week aims to change the narrative, with a focus on the strengths that these conditions can bring both to the individual and, for organisations, their team.
Approximately 20% of the population has a neurological difference. Instead of labelling people with deficits or disorders, neurodiversity encourages a balanced view of an individual’s unique strengths and challenges. Although in fact the ‘challenges’ faced are more to do with the environment and systems put in place by the rest of society.
A large number of us here at STR are affected by conditions that come under this umbrella, whether that’s personally or through friends, family or colleagues, and we want to take this opportunity to say how much we appreciate those with neurodiverse abilities, want them to feel included, and are here to provide support when needed.
The strengths of neurodiversity
Conditions such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Autism and ADHD can all be considered alternative thinking styles. According to The Brain Charity, the strengths of many people with these conditions include:
- Reliability, conscientiousness and persistence
- High levels of concentration
- Detailed factual knowledge and an excellent memory
- Attention to detail and the ability to identify errors
- Strong technical abilities in their specialist areas
- Creativity, especially in visual, spatial or process activities
- High levels of intellect
- The ability to look at the bigger picture and think laterally
“I often find I see things differently from everyone else in the room. Dyslexia seems to give me a different way of approaching problems and finding solutions that others wouldn’t think of.”
James Rolfe, Financial Controller
One of our Senior Recruitment Consultants and life sciences specialists, likewise focuses on the advantages that his (peer-diagnosed) ADHD gives him.
“When I’m set a goal, I keep going until I achieve it, no matter how challenging it might be, whereas others might not have the same sticking power. There are things that I’m not interested in that I find it more difficult to focus on but that’s ok when you’re part of a team that knows it strengths and weaknesses; you balance each other out and support each other in doing so.”
James Gigg, Blackfield – Senior Recruitment
What can I do as an employer?
Those with neurologically diverse conditions process information and communicate in different ways, at least when compared to the roughly 80% majority of the population that has standardised and set our expectations as to what should be considered ‘normal’. Therefore, they may be unsuccessful at interview as they don’t ‘come across’ well, despite numerous professional and academic qualifications on their CV.
According to a Harvard Business Review article, ‘Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage’, most companies need to adjust their recruitment, selection and career development policies and processes to make sure their companies are fully accessible to neurodiverse talent and that these individuals will be successfully nurtured there.
Also, keep in mind that everyone is different, one person’s experience with autism, for example, will be entirely different from another’s, so be prepared to make individual adjustments in the workplace such as providing headphones for those with autism and ADHD to reduce oratory over-stimulation, and a quiet space to work when they need to concentrate.
This was confirmed by one of our Lead Recruitment Consultants, who sepcialises in architecture and interiors, when we spoke to her last year for ADHD Awareness Month.
“When I joined STR I spoke to my manager, Mark, who did his research and then came back to talk to me about what we could do to play to my strengths and mitigate anything I might find challenging. He started by adjusting the seating plan, providing noise-canceling headphones, and ensuring I knew I had a quiet space available where I could get my head down, without distractions.”
Abbi Kelly, urban – Lead Recruitment Consultant
Her success is a testament not only to Abbi’s own abilities and determination, but also shows how even small adjustments on behalf of an employer can enable those with neurodiverse conditions to thrive. More information can be found for organisations via the link below.
Where can I find support?
If any part of this article resonates with you and you would like to find out more, try the links below in the first instance or contact your GP.
If you’re an individual with any of these or other conditions that come under the neurodiverse umbrella, and you’re interested in a career in recruitment (or just need a chat), we’d love to hear from you! Contact out Talent team via the button below to learn more about the opportunities we have available and how the STR Group will support and celebrate you!