We all talk about Neurodiversity and the importance of implementing it in the workplace. Quite often though, we forget to mention how vital it is to have the right culture in an organization so that Neurodiversity and Neuroinclusion can be encouraged. In order to reap the benefits of Neurodiversity, organizations need to build a culture of neuroinclusion.
Neuroinclusion does not mean hiring neurodivergent individuals just to tick a box or for the sake of following a directive. In fact, neuroinclusion has many aspects such as inculcating a feeling of belonging in neurodivergent employees, making them feel valued, creating career growth paths around their strengths, and ensuring the environment around them is safe and supportive. For that to happen, the culture of a company must change in fundamental ways. An organization’s culture consists of its values, mission, policies, goals, leadership, and employee attitudes/behaviors. How do we create a culture that enables the building of genuinely inclusive environments? Follow these five steps to form an inclusive culture in your organization:
- Listen – The first step is to listen. If you do not know what your employees think about Neurodiversity, it will not be possible to implement measures for neuroinclusion. Listen to opinions and understand what your employees are trying to communicate. Value input from all levels not just from those at the executive level. Getting the pulse of where your workforce currently stands on Neurodiversity is a great way to embark on achieving neuroinclusion.
- Act – Don’t assume that your employees understand the nuances of neurodiversity and inclusion. Ensure there is proper training. Engage professionals such as our team at NeuroGifted, to conduct training that not only informs but also educates on Neurodiversity-related matters. This includes training on recognizing and dealing with implicit biases, the correct terminology to use so that inclusion is bolstered, inclusive hiring and retention, best practices for neuroinclusion and so on. The goal should be to achieve acceptance and appreciation of Neurodiversity – not just awareness. Therefore, training cannot be a one-off occurrence. Training needs to be consistent and an ongoing part of workplace culture otherwise neurodiversity initiatives will not be successful.
- Build Belonging – A neuroinclusive culture will support all employees and foster a sense of belonging. Merely tolerating and accepting neurodiversity will not make a difference to the cultural fabric of your organization. For real transformation of culture, companies need to move towards creating a sense of belonging in every employee. This would make it possible for both neurodivergent and neurotypical employees to thrive at work. To promote a feeling of belonging in neurodivergent employees, it is essential that they have the comfort to bring their authentic selves to work. They also must be made to feel valued as being intrinsic to the company’s growth and performance.
- Enable Communication – Instil the importance of two-way communication between the leaders and employees in your organization. Allow for the expression of views that may not be aligned with those of the leadership when it comes to inclusion. It is up to the leadership to point out the benefits of having a neurodiverse workforce and the consequent enrichment of culture that follows as a result. Having a supportive environment where all voices are heard is an important step in building neuroinclusion.
- Incorporate inclusion in your core values – neuroinclusion requires a change in the mindset of your organization. By ensuring that the mission and values of your company incorporate neuroinclusion, you highlight its importance to your organization. Changes must be made at the policy level to reflect this cultural transformation. Again, avail the expertise of those who know how to help you in everything to do with Neurodiversity – like NeuroGifted. We have the experience and the ability to guide you through the complexities of neuroinclusion.
An organization’s culture determines its growth and success. Embracing neurodiversity and leveraging the potential of neurodivergents not only increases productivity, retention rates, agility and innovation but also results in the creation of a better workplace for every employee. It also ensures that companies that implement neuroinclusion possess a competitive edge over those that do not. It, therefore, makes a lot of business sense to invest in building the right culture for neuroinclusion.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anima Nair is a Neurodiversity Consultant and Advocate. She is a vastly experienced educator, speaker, and presenter.
She is also the Lead – Client Management & Content Strategy at Neurogifted.
She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or through her social media handles below.