By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.
Left arrow
Back
Three coworkers in the office join hands in a high five.Three coworkers in the office join hands in a high five.
Three coworkers in the office join hands in a high five.

Embracing Neurodiversity in the Workplace: Insights from Disclo x Cornell ILR’s Latest Webinar

TL;DR Discover key insights from the recent Disclo x Cornell ILR webinar on fostering an inclusive workplace for neurodiverse employees, featuring best practices and strategies for HR leaders. Learn how to leverage neurodiverse talent for competitive advantage and improved employee retention.

Team Disclo
June 20, 2024

Introduction

In our recent webinar, "Creating an Inclusive Workplace for Neurodiverse Employees: Best Practices," we explored essential strategies for fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment for neurodiverse employees. The session featured insights from Kai Keane, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Disclo, and Susanne Bruyère, Academic Director of the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability at Cornell University. This recap will cover the key highlights and provide actionable advice for HR managers, HR directors, and HR business partners.

If you missed the live webinar, watch on-demand here.

Understanding Neurodiversity

What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity refers to the diversity of human brains and minds, encompassing a range of neurological conditions, including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dyslexia, dyspraxia, and Tourette syndrome. Neurodiverse people may process information and experience the world differently compared to neurotypical individuals. For a comprehensive definition, visit Harvard Health Publishing.

Prevalence and Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of neurodiverse conditions has been steadily increasing. For instance, the rate of autism diagnosis has risen to one in 36 children as of 2020. Moreover, when considering the broader spectrum of neurodivergent conditions, approximately one in five people are neurodivergent. Learn more about these statistics on the CDC's Autism Data and Statistics page.

The Business Case for Neurodiversity

Competitive Advantage

Organizations that embrace neurodiversity inclusion can gain a competitive advantage. Neurodiverse employees often bring unique skill sets, such as pattern recognition, problem-solving, and creativity, which can drive innovation and improve business outcomes. Companies like Microsoft and SAP have successfully integrated neurodiverse talent, leveraging their distinct abilities to enhance their products and services.

Webinar highlight: According to Susanne Bruyère, “When you design your workplace for inclusion of neurodiverse individuals, it does help if you're thoughtful about how you create and structure your employment processes.”

Improved Retention and Well-being

Creating an inclusive workplace not only helps attract neurodivergent job seekers but also improves retention and well-being among existing employees. When neurodivergent workers feel supported and understood, they are more likely to stay with the company and perform at their best.

Overcoming Challenges

Barriers Faced by Neurodivergent Employees

Neurodivergent employees often face significant barriers in the workplace, including self-limiting behaviors, lack of confidence, and stereotypes that affect perceptions of their competence. These challenges can hinder their career advancement and overall job satisfaction.

Webinar highlight: Kai Keane noted, “Nearly one in four neurodivergent workers said they were either fired or demoted after requesting accommodations.”

Disclosure and Accommodation

One of the critical points discussed in the webinar was the importance of a supportive disclosure process. Neurodivergent individuals are more likely to disclose their needs to supervisors rather than HR, emphasizing the need for supervisor training. Companies must create a safe and confidential environment for employees to discuss their needs and request accommodations.

Read More: Navigating Reasonable Accommodations: Rights, Responsibilities, and Practical Solutions

Building an Inclusive Workplace

Organizational Commitment

Successful neurodiversity initiatives require a top-down commitment to inclusivity. This involves articulating a clear mission, providing resources and support, and fostering a culture of understanding. HR leaders play a crucial role in driving these initiatives and ensuring that the entire organization is aligned with the goal of inclusivity.

Best Practices for Neurodiversity Hiring

1. Tailored Hiring Process:

2. Inclusive Workspaces:

  • Creating neurodiversity-friendly workspaces can make a significant difference. Simple adjustments like providing noise-canceling headphones or offering flexible workspaces can help neurodivergent employees thrive.

3. Continuous Support:

  • Ongoing support and mentorship are crucial for the success of neurodivergent employees. Regular check-ins and a clear channel for feedback can help address any issues promptly.

Read More: Creating Inclusive Recruitment: 5 Best Practices for Candidate Accommodations

Prominent Companies Leading the Way

Several companies have set exemplary standards for neurodiversity inclusion:

Microsoft

Microsoft's Autism Hiring Program aims to attract talented autistic individuals by providing a more accessible and supportive hiring process. The program includes a multi-day workshop to assess candidates' skills in a comfortable setting, leading to better job matches and higher retention rates.

SAP

SAP's Autism at Work program focuses on integrating autistic people into their workforce. The company has seen significant benefits, including enhanced problem-solving capabilities and improved team dynamics.

Deloitte

Deloitte has implemented initiatives to support neurodivergent workers, such as tailored onboarding programs and continuous professional development opportunities. These efforts have contributed to a more inclusive and productive work environment.

Legal and Compliance Considerations

ADA and PWFA Regulations

Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is essential for creating a supportive work environment for neurodivergent employees. HR leaders must ensure that their accommodation processes are safe, confidential, and efficient. For more information on ADA compliance, visit the ADA National Network.

Career Advancement and Growth

Addressing Self-limiting Behaviors

Neurodivergent employees often need encouragement and support to participate in career advancement opportunities. Supervisors should be proactive in identifying and addressing any self-limiting behaviors, helping employees build confidence and pursue growth.

Webinar highlight: Susanne Bruyère emphasized, “It's usually not so much the nature of the neurodiversity itself, but the person's own engagement in self-limiting behaviors that can hinder their advancement.”

Overcoming Stereotypes and Stigmas

Stereotypes and stigmas can significantly impact the career progression of neurodivergent employees. HR leaders must work to dismantle these biases through education and awareness programs, ensuring that all employees have equal opportunities for advancement.

Future Directions and Conclusion

The landscape of neurodiversity in the workplace is continually evolving. As more companies recognize the value of neurodiverse talent, the need for ongoing education and awareness becomes even more critical. By fostering an inclusive and supportive work environment, organizations can harness the unique abilities of neurodiverse employees, driving innovation and success.

Additional Reading

For further reading and support, consider exploring the following resources:

By implementing these strategies and embracing neurodiversity, HR leaders can create a work environment where all employees can thrive, contributing to a more innovative and successful organization.

Related Resources

  1. [Read] Managing Employees with Autism: Creating an Inclusive Workplace | Disclo Resource 
  2. [Learn] Interactive Process Template | ADA Accommodations 
  3. [Read] Corporate Inclusion: Language in the Workplace 
  4. [Learn] Creating Inclusive Recruitment: 5 Best Practices for Candidate Accommodations | Disclo Resource  

About Disclo

Built by 2x disability-focused founders, the software is a workplace ADA and PWFA accommodations platform for companies focused on making workplaces inclusive for everyone. Disclo is a HIPAA-compliant platform that requests, tracks, and manages workplace accommodations—all in one place. 

Disclo makes handling accommodations seamless by combining automation, in-app medical e-verification, out-of-the-box analytics (so you can auto-track against EEOC and ADA standards), and the ability to connect to any HRIS and ATS with pre-built integrations.

Strengthen workplace inclusivity and future-proof ADA and PWFA processes while establishing a digital paper trail for your organization. Learn more at disclo.com/demo.

Introduction

In our recent webinar, "Creating an Inclusive Workplace for Neurodiverse Employees: Best Practices," we explored essential strategies for fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment for neurodiverse employees. The session featured insights from Kai Keane, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Disclo, and Susanne Bruyère, Academic Director of the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability at Cornell University. This recap will cover the key highlights and provide actionable advice for HR managers, HR directors, and HR business partners.

If you missed the live webinar, watch on-demand here.

Understanding Neurodiversity

What is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity refers to the diversity of human brains and minds, encompassing a range of neurological conditions, including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dyslexia, dyspraxia, and Tourette syndrome. Neurodiverse people may process information and experience the world differently compared to neurotypical individuals. For a comprehensive definition, visit Harvard Health Publishing.

Prevalence and Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of neurodiverse conditions has been steadily increasing. For instance, the rate of autism diagnosis has risen to one in 36 children as of 2020. Moreover, when considering the broader spectrum of neurodivergent conditions, approximately one in five people are neurodivergent. Learn more about these statistics on the CDC's Autism Data and Statistics page.

The Business Case for Neurodiversity

Competitive Advantage

Organizations that embrace neurodiversity inclusion can gain a competitive advantage. Neurodiverse employees often bring unique skill sets, such as pattern recognition, problem-solving, and creativity, which can drive innovation and improve business outcomes. Companies like Microsoft and SAP have successfully integrated neurodiverse talent, leveraging their distinct abilities to enhance their products and services.

Webinar highlight: According to Susanne Bruyère, “When you design your workplace for inclusion of neurodiverse individuals, it does help if you're thoughtful about how you create and structure your employment processes.”

Improved Retention and Well-being

Creating an inclusive workplace not only helps attract neurodivergent job seekers but also improves retention and well-being among existing employees. When neurodivergent workers feel supported and understood, they are more likely to stay with the company and perform at their best.

Overcoming Challenges

Barriers Faced by Neurodivergent Employees

Neurodivergent employees often face significant barriers in the workplace, including self-limiting behaviors, lack of confidence, and stereotypes that affect perceptions of their competence. These challenges can hinder their career advancement and overall job satisfaction.

Webinar highlight: Kai Keane noted, “Nearly one in four neurodivergent workers said they were either fired or demoted after requesting accommodations.”

Disclosure and Accommodation

One of the critical points discussed in the webinar was the importance of a supportive disclosure process. Neurodivergent individuals are more likely to disclose their needs to supervisors rather than HR, emphasizing the need for supervisor training. Companies must create a safe and confidential environment for employees to discuss their needs and request accommodations.

Read More: Navigating Reasonable Accommodations: Rights, Responsibilities, and Practical Solutions

Curious to see how accommodations can support your employees?

Schedule a free demo today.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Building an Inclusive Workplace

Organizational Commitment

Successful neurodiversity initiatives require a top-down commitment to inclusivity. This involves articulating a clear mission, providing resources and support, and fostering a culture of understanding. HR leaders play a crucial role in driving these initiatives and ensuring that the entire organization is aligned with the goal of inclusivity.

Best Practices for Neurodiversity Hiring

1. Tailored Hiring Process:

2. Inclusive Workspaces:

  • Creating neurodiversity-friendly workspaces can make a significant difference. Simple adjustments like providing noise-canceling headphones or offering flexible workspaces can help neurodivergent employees thrive.

3. Continuous Support:

  • Ongoing support and mentorship are crucial for the success of neurodivergent employees. Regular check-ins and a clear channel for feedback can help address any issues promptly.

Read More: Creating Inclusive Recruitment: 5 Best Practices for Candidate Accommodations

Prominent Companies Leading the Way

Several companies have set exemplary standards for neurodiversity inclusion:

Microsoft

Microsoft's Autism Hiring Program aims to attract talented autistic individuals by providing a more accessible and supportive hiring process. The program includes a multi-day workshop to assess candidates' skills in a comfortable setting, leading to better job matches and higher retention rates.

SAP

SAP's Autism at Work program focuses on integrating autistic people into their workforce. The company has seen significant benefits, including enhanced problem-solving capabilities and improved team dynamics.

Deloitte

Deloitte has implemented initiatives to support neurodivergent workers, such as tailored onboarding programs and continuous professional development opportunities. These efforts have contributed to a more inclusive and productive work environment.

Legal and Compliance Considerations

ADA and PWFA Regulations

Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is essential for creating a supportive work environment for neurodivergent employees. HR leaders must ensure that their accommodation processes are safe, confidential, and efficient. For more information on ADA compliance, visit the ADA National Network.

Career Advancement and Growth

Addressing Self-limiting Behaviors

Neurodivergent employees often need encouragement and support to participate in career advancement opportunities. Supervisors should be proactive in identifying and addressing any self-limiting behaviors, helping employees build confidence and pursue growth.

Webinar highlight: Susanne Bruyère emphasized, “It's usually not so much the nature of the neurodiversity itself, but the person's own engagement in self-limiting behaviors that can hinder their advancement.”

Overcoming Stereotypes and Stigmas

Stereotypes and stigmas can significantly impact the career progression of neurodivergent employees. HR leaders must work to dismantle these biases through education and awareness programs, ensuring that all employees have equal opportunities for advancement.

Future Directions and Conclusion

The landscape of neurodiversity in the workplace is continually evolving. As more companies recognize the value of neurodiverse talent, the need for ongoing education and awareness becomes even more critical. By fostering an inclusive and supportive work environment, organizations can harness the unique abilities of neurodiverse employees, driving innovation and success.

Additional Reading

For further reading and support, consider exploring the following resources:

By implementing these strategies and embracing neurodiversity, HR leaders can create a work environment where all employees can thrive, contributing to a more innovative and successful organization.

Related Resources

  1. [Read] Managing Employees with Autism: Creating an Inclusive Workplace | Disclo Resource 
  2. [Learn] Interactive Process Template | ADA Accommodations 
  3. [Read] Corporate Inclusion: Language in the Workplace 
  4. [Learn] Creating Inclusive Recruitment: 5 Best Practices for Candidate Accommodations | Disclo Resource  

About Disclo

Built by 2x disability-focused founders, the software is a workplace ADA and PWFA accommodations platform for companies focused on making workplaces inclusive for everyone. Disclo is a HIPAA-compliant platform that requests, tracks, and manages workplace accommodations—all in one place. 

Disclo makes handling accommodations seamless by combining automation, in-app medical e-verification, out-of-the-box analytics (so you can auto-track against EEOC and ADA standards), and the ability to connect to any HRIS and ATS with pre-built integrations.

Strengthen workplace inclusivity and future-proof ADA and PWFA processes while establishing a digital paper trail for your organization. Learn more at disclo.com/demo.

Share this article
Related Articles

Collect, verify, and manage workplace accommodations all in one place.

Disclo helps you manage health disclosures and accommodation requests — while staying compliant with HIPAA and ADA regulations.

Let's Disclo!

Schedule a 30-minute demo with a member of our team.
We respect your data. By submitting this form, you agree that we may use ​this information in accordance with our Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.