What does it mean to be neurodivergent?

Andrew Jones tells Amelia Brand in our latest podcast about what recent research shows about the representation and inclusion of neurodivergent individuals in the workplace.

Andrew defines neurodiversity as a way of thinking about people who might be categorised by some recognised way of thinking.

Andrew makes a distinction between neurodiverse and neurotypical people. He highlights a challenge here because he does not think you can categorise everybody else into a neurotypical thinker, since there are so many different ways of thinking.

“IT IS IMPORTANT TO RECOGNISE THAT PEOPLE THINK IN DIFFERENT WAYS.”

– Andrew Jones

Of course, there are certain things which would place people into that neurodiverse category such as those with autism, for example. Autism is more understood, in the sense that it is there and is commonplace in society. 

However, there are many ways of behaving and thinking that are not so recognised. This is where the danger of categories comes into place, argues Andrew.

 

What are companies doing to address the representation of neurodiverse individuals in the workplace?

The research conducted by Agility in Mind found that only 4 percent of FTSE 100 companies have specific initiatives to address this. 

LGBTQ+ initiatives, however, are held by over 50 percent of those companies, followed by a clear statement of inclusivity.

“IT WOULD SEEM, THAT IN GENERAL, THINGS AREN’T REALLY BEING DONE TO ADDRESS NEURODIVERSITY WITHIN THE WORKPLACE.”

– Andrew Jones

Andrew thinks this is perhaps because it is difficult to see, so it is difficult to understand.

Andrew highlights that whilst managers have a responsibility to drive neurodiverse inclusion, they are themselves only human individuals too. This is where the development of empathy has importance, as it helps people see situations from the perspective of others.

 

Neurodiversity in the workplace: what are the benefits?

First of all, recognising that there is diversity of thinking is the starting point.

“GREAT INNOVATIONS COME FROM A CLASH OF THINKING, AND SEEING THINGS FROM DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES.”

– Andrew Jones

Andrew makes a comparison between the clashing of different genres of music, which is something that can be differentiated within the market.

The other aspect is that because we do have neurodiversity within the population, there is a real danger of seemingly thinking in the same way within an organisation. This is because you will not get any representation of thinking,

“IF YOU’RE ONLY SEEING THINGS FROM ONE PERSPECTIVE, YOU REALLY WON’T BE ABLE TO REACH THE BREADTH OF THINKING AND NEEDS WITHIN SOCIETY.”

– Andrew Jones

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Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.