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HR professionals lack confidence in spotting neurodivergence

Neurodiversity awareness levels remain low in the workplace compared with other aspects of diversity and inclusion (D&I).

Research conducted by assistive technology company Texthelp found just 28% of HR professionals felt very confident in identifying different types of neurodivergent conditions, while one in 10 (9%) described themselves as not confident at all.

Race was selected as the top diversity priority for HR and D&I professionals, with 38% of those surveyed describing it as the most important issue.

Gender followed with 25%, while just 15% thought of disability as the priority.

More on neurodiversity:

Opening up the neurodiversity conversation in recruitment

Speaking plainly: inclusivity and accessibility starts with the written word

The big office reopen is a neurodiversity dilemma

Speaking to HR magazine Cathy Donnelly, chief people officer at Texthelp, said she believes neurodiversity often gets overlooked as the signs are not always visible.

She said: “Often people don’t feel comfortable admitting to employers that they have a neurodivergent condition.

“Employers should clearly signal that their organisation welcomes neurodiverse individuals through job descriptions and recruitment materials. If candidates know they are entering a workplace that embraces inclusion they are more likely to feel comfortable to talk about any extra support they may need.”

Of the 291 HR and D&I professionals polled, a third (33%) believed they knew what accommodations could be provided for neurodivergent employees.

Methods that have already been implemented included giving dyslexic candidates more time for reading and writing tasks in the recruitment stage (53%), installing assistive reading and writing software (54%), and providing special keyboards (55%).

Gabrielle Pendlebury, clinical director of psychiatric service at mental healthcare company Onebright, believes that all employees in a workplace should be trained to assist those with neurodiverse needs.

She told HR magazine: “It is also important you take steps to make sure your whole workforce is aware of the best ways to support neurodivergent employees. Implementing awareness training programmes, management plans and comprehensive workplace assessments for all staff are some of the best ways to do this.

“Employers should be sure to pay particular attention to the different ways that neurodiverse employees process information in any training, as well the different ways that they manage stress and anxiety.”