In the News
Neurodiversity in Engineering
The way that the neurodiversity movement views neurological differences is to say that they are the result of a normal, natural variation in our make up, that we are each differently abled and our behaviour and thinking a result of both nature and nurture. Neurodiversity celebration week exists to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about those neurological differences. Of course, the main aim of this event is to empower individuals and remove barriers to equality and opportunities, but there are also benefits for those businesses who embrace the differences of their employees to release potential.
What is neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is a term that was coined in the 1990’s and reflects the 20% of the adult population who are not considered neurotypical and may have been diagnosed with a neurological condition. Neurodivergent is a term used by the neurodiversity movement as an ‘opposite’ to neurotypical. Neurodivergent is not a medical term, it is simply used to describe those whose brains develop or work differently. People who identify as neurodivergent often have one of the following conditions or disorders: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Defecit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyscalulia, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). However, it is important to also understand that not everybody with these conditions chooses to identify as neurodivergent.
The benefits of a neurodiverse team:
Most businesses are already working hard to diversify in terms of gender, background, culture and experience, but neurodiversity within the workforce can create just as great an impact on teams, bringing new perspectives to areas like problem-solving, strategy and customer relationships. Research shows that neurodiverse teams are 30% more productive than others, so it makes good sense that employers would go out of their way to ensure that their workforce is neurologically diverse.
According to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), there are 820,000 neurodivergent engineers working in the UK, and 40% of people within the tech industry keep that neurodivergence a secret. That’s not a surprise, given the stigma that has been attached to so many of these conditions for so many years, but, what is incredibly important, is that employers understand that different individuals need different types of support, for example, the environment suited to one person could be potentially disruptive to another. However, with support in place, neurodivergent individuals can be equally as productive and add as much value to the business as any other person, whilst potentially bringing a new perspective or skill to a team.
If you look at the stats so widely broadcast which show that only 21% of ASD people are in employment but over 70% would like to be, this has the potential to go some way toward solving some of the issues with skills gaps and availability of labour that the UK is currently struggling with.
There is a much greater recognition nowadays that it can be beneficial to find alternative routes to recruiting skilled neurodivergent individuals who might not suit a traditional recruitment and interview style, and risk being overlooked. The challenge with tapping into the pool of neurodiversity is that traditional recruitment methods often mean that they don’t get through the hiring process because some of the usual criteria applied in the filtering of candidates – good communication skills, emotional intelligence, ability to network – don’t always reflect the traits of a neurodiverse population, with the pressure of the interview scenario potentially making things even more complicated.
Neurodiversity at Eadon
When we recruit, we are looking for people who share our values, have the role-specific skills that we need and who are passionate about engineering. We ensure that our working environment is inclusive, and we have training and progression plans in place for each individual according to their needs and career path. Our flexible working patterns and hybrid working model are there to provide people as good a work-life balance as we are able, so that they can adjust their environment and hours to suit their own needs. Our recruitment partners, OD Talent Solutions, ask candidates to submit a technical exercise alongside the screening questions. Equal weight is given to both the interview and technical expertise, which means that neurodivergent individuals are taken forward to the next stage based on their skills and technical ability to do the job.
To find out more about neurodiversity celebration week, visit their website.