How to Tap into the Pool of Neurodiverse Data Talent
Ensuring that our workplaces are thriving with a diverse range of talent is, rightly, a topic that many organisations are focussing on.
Yet, for the most part, this dialogue is centred around gender, ethnicity, sexuality and perhaps even physical disability. It is fairly uncommon therefore to see close attention given to exploring the challenges surrounding neurodiversity in organisations around the globe.
Generally speaking, the term neurodiversity encompasses autism, attention deficit disorders, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and other neurological conditions.To hear a range of diverse viewpoints and perspectives is to contribute to an inclusive society and organisation. Leaving neurodiversity aside is no longer acceptable. Our research in the US highlights how 26 per cent of US adults have some form of disability, yet disabled individuals only account for 3.5 per cent of those working in Data & Analytics.
As the global skills shortage worsens, it stands to reason that businesses will want to access this previously untapped talent pool. We know that in the UK, 56 per cent of organisations continue to experience skills shortages and in the US, two-thirds of employers hiring for full-time, permanent employees say they can’t find qualified talent to fill open jobs.
An often-overlooked area of diversity is the impact a disability can have on an individual’s professional career. It’s no secret that all organisations would like to construct the best team – but are you doing enough to consider underrepresented talent?
Creating a smooth recruitment process for neurodiverse data talent
One of the first barriers that neurodiverse candidates may encounter when seeking to enter an organisation is the recruitment and interview process. For these individuals, undergoing testing in this way puts pressure on communication skills, a tool that often allows us to better understand, connect and empathise with one another.
When it comes to the recruitment process, the traditional in-person interview process — which assesses communication skills and personality fit — can be difficult to negotiate for neurodiverse candidates. In fact, this can be said to have been heightened by the pandemic too. The switch to virtual interviewing has added a new challenge to how neurodiverse candidates are able to participate in the process as miscommunication and interruptions come into the picture.
For employers, tapping into the pool of data professionals with these invisible disabilities requires them to take the stress out of the interview and assessment process. It is critical to consider someone’s potential ability to do the job and the core skills that they have linking directly to the role on offer.
Onboard a successful neurodiverse candidate efficiently
Regardless of the size of an organisation, from global corporation to growing SME, they all share the same need to onboard new hires successfully and with limited disruption. It is this process that begins the relationship between an employee and an employer and although there will have been interactions through the recruitment process, it is the initial welcome into the organisation that will set the tone for the relationship moving forward.
For neurodiverse employees this can be a daunting prospect; meeting new people while also familiarising themselves with a new environment and routine requires ongoing support and help from the employer. There are a number of ways that organisations can make this easier, from in-person or virtual meetings with smaller groups of the team to scheduled one-to-one chats with colleagues, the first few steps can be made more comfortable by promoting an inclusive culture.
However, as there are such wide-ranging differences between neurodiverse conditions and individual requirements, employers need to implement policies that are tailored and highly individualised. Creating such policies and programmes can be complex and time-consuming, but it is critical to include your team in this. Ultimately it will boost your bottom line and the array of perspectives and views that are shared within the organisation.
Retaining neurodiverse employees
Neurodiverse candidates are capable, intelligent and have creative-thinking minds. To ensure their tenure within an organisation is lengthy and successful, we need to support these professionals and equip them with the tools and support they need to thrive.
A standardised approach will not satisfy every need, and so it is important that every person in your organisation is accommodated as far as possible. The importance of this could not be clearer, as the BIMA Tech Inclusion & Diversity Report details how neurodivergent employees are more likely to be impacted by poor mental health (84 per cent against 49 per cent for neurotypical workers). This suggests that beyond attracting neurodiverse talent into the organisation, employers need to focus on the quality of the experience within the team.
For example, take the time to book in regular meetings between the employee and their line manager. This will ensure that projects run smoothly, and any concerns or questions can be raised in a controlled environment. Listen to your team and their lived experiences to make informed and accurate plans to facilitate their growth within the team. After all, each employee brings a set of unique skills to a company.
As more organisations realise the benefits of hiring neurodivergent candidates into their teams, employers have to act quickly to make routes into the business as accessible as possible. Ultimately, hiring neurodiverse people makes complete business sense. We know that diverse teams perform better, so now is the time to step up and tap into the huge pool of neurodiverse data talent.
If you’re in the world of Data & Analytics and looking to take a step up or find the next member of your team, we can help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more.