How to Customize Your Case for Neuroinclusion
Enterprises are increasingly embracing neuroinclusion and pursuing neurodiversity initiatives. Various “cases for neurodiversity” have emerged to broaden the appeal of neurodiversity at all levels of enterprise. Neurodiversity sponsors know it is imperative to assess the enablers and the barriers to change before launching initiatives. For said sponsors of neuroinclusion, this means tailoring arguments for adopting neuroinclusive business practices to align with various stakeholders’ agendas. For example, your CEO, executive leaders, sales team, customers, and human resources department might have different incentives for investing in neurodiversity. Depending upon whom you are speaking with at your company, the following cases can be adapted to convince them that neuroinclusion is a win-win.
Make the Business Case
Practicing neuroinclusion improves the bottom line for businesses. With 20% of the population being neurodistinct, enterprises that practice authentic neuroinclusion have access to talent pools unavailable to their less inclusive competitors. In addition to the innovation and productivity gains many neurodiversity sponsors report, adopting neuroinclusion drives many other employee experience benefits appreciated by neurodistinct and neuromajority employees alike – higher job satisfaction, improved communication, and better relationships with managers, to name a few.
Several well-known enterprises have testified to how neurodistinct employees and neuroinclusive cultures strengthen their businesses:
- JP Morgan Chase & CO. found that autistic employees were 90-140% more productive than their more experienced neuromajority peers.
- A Hewlett Packard Enterprise study indicated that a neurodiverse software testing team was 30% more productive than teams composed of neurotypicals.
- Wells Fargo has retained 99% of neurodistinct employees hired in 2022.
- SAP reported that embracing neuroinclusion has driven innovation and mitigated the risks of groupthink.
Research from the academic community demonstrating how folks of different neurotypes, on average, outperform others in desired vocational skills is in its infancy. Unfortunately, much of the research agenda continues to be slanted toward unhelpful “cures” and “treatments” topics, rather than ways to improve the lives of neurodistinct people. While we wait for the academic community to align with the priorities of neurodistinct communities, preliminary evidence from the business community, combined with the lived experience of neurodistinct adults, validates the business case for neurodiversity.
One caveat: while using corporate testimonials to portray neurodistinct workers as more productive, innovative, and loyal can help generate buy-in from key stakeholders, be sure that you do not perpetuate stereotypes and overgeneralizations. With more than one billion neurodistinct people on the planet, there is as much variety amongst the neurodistinct as there is amongst the neuromajority. Do not expect every neurodistinct candidate to possess superhuman vocational skills. Many self-advocates caution employers to consider how the ’neurodiversity as a competitive advantage’ narrative can create psychologically unsafe environments for neurodistincts by setting expectations that they can’t, and shouldn’t have to, meet. Rather, the competitive advantage of neuroinclusion is that, when businesses get things right for neurodistinct people, they get things right for everyone.
Embrace Corporate Responsibility
Neurodistinct people are arguably the largest minoritized group on the planet. Most likely, either you, members of your family and some of your friends, coworkers, or customers are neurodistinct. Businesses can no longer overlook their talents, needs, and pain points. Rather, they should include neuroinclusion within their corporate responsibility mandate.
For organizations, aligning neurodiversity with D&I agendas and social impact initiatives increases potency and reduces costs. Practicing authentic neuroinclusion also strengthens your brand as a company of choice for neurodistinct workers and consumers.
While some neurodistinct employees do not identify as disabled, they may still be entitled to protections under federal law depending upon their country of employment. Implementing neuroinclusive best practices, like universal design and a robust menu of accommodations, helps companies avoid the landmine of noncompliance. Compliance should be viewed as the floor rather than the ceiling in these cases. Given that many neurodistinct people are unidentified, and only 1 out 10 who are identified disclose to their employer, compliance-based support systems are insufficient.