The Benefits of Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Neurodiversity is a term used to describe the spectrum of Dyslexia, ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Autism and Dyspraxia amongst some others; all of which are classed as disabilities under the Equality act 2010.  As to whether a neurodiverse person classes themselves as disabled or not wholly depends on the individual.  Nevertheless, as with many disabilities, neurodivergent individuals are not always impaired by their disability but more by the obstacles put before them.

Having been told my whole life that I was ‘on the spectrum’, I often believed that my way of thinking was the wrong way. In the playground it may be forgiven but more recently I had an ex-boss who would take every opportunity to make a point of shutting me down due to the fact I was ‘Aspergic’.  I have often found it hard to speak and voice my opinions due to the fear of being called out, but I am happy to say I now work in an environment that not only encourages me to come out of my shell and share any ideas I may have, but also celebrates thinking unconventionally.

Just for the record I have never been diagnosed with any form of Asperger’s or Autism.

More so than ever, workplaces are more appreciative of the importance of a diverse and inclusive workplace especially when it comes to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or circumstance. I believe the legal profession would greatly benefit from neurodivergent minds, however; the idea of a neurodiverse workplace is still a relatively new one. Individuals are often highly creative problem solvers, have long term memory, are lateral thinkers, innovative, possess fine detail analytical abilities and are committed and novel thinkers.  All of which can be essential qualities in the world of law.

According to the professional body for HR and personal development, CIPD, where a poll of more than 300 HR professionals was conducted, it was found that neurodiversity was ignored in the policies of 72% of employers across the UK.  Given that 1 in 10 of the population is in some way neurodivergent, more needs to be done to ensure we are welcoming and leveraging the skills of a highly gifted talent pool.

‘Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will be best at any given moment?’ Harvey Blume, The Atlantic, 1998

If you would like to discuss anything relating to this article, please contact Marie-Claire Byrne at [email protected]