Neurodiversity Celebration Week 2023
This week, 13th – 17th March, is Neurodiversity Celebration Week, a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions around neurological differences.
Why should we do that then?
Neurodiversity in its various forms has been met with negativity and harmful assumptions over the years. Neurodiversity Celebration Week aims to change the narrative, with a focus on the strengths that these conditions can bring both to the individual and, for organisations, their team.
Approximately 20% of the population has a neurological difference. Instead of labelling people with deficits or disorders, neurodiversity encourages a balanced view of an individual’s unique strengths and challenges. Although in fact, the ‘challenges’ faced are more to do with the environment and systems put in place by the rest of society.
A large number of us here at Blackfield and across the wider STR Group are affected by conditions that come under this umbrella, whether that’s personally or through friends, family or colleagues, and we want to take this opportunity to say how much we appreciate those with neurodiverse abilities, want them to feel included, and are here to provide support when needed.
The strengths of neurodiversity
Conditions such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Autism and ADHD can all be considered alternative thinking styles. According to The Brain Charity, the strengths of many people with these conditions include:
- Reliability, conscientiousness and persistence
- High levels of concentration
- Detailed factual knowledge and an excellent memory
- Attention to detail and the ability to identify errors
- Strong technical abilities in their specialist areas
- Creativity, especially in visual, spatial or process activities
- High levels of intellect
- The ability to look at the bigger picture and think laterally
One of our Senior Recruitment Consultants, James Gigg, has (peer-diagnosed) ADHD. His Director, Nathan Sutton, was researching the topic and realised James displayed a lot of the typical characteristics. James read up on the condition himself and agreed, however, he likes to focus on the positives:
I have short bursts of focus, which is why recruitment suits me so well; it’s very varied. I’m not so much of a detail person, but I can hyperfocus on a task that I’m interested in. When I’m set a goal, I keep going until I achieve it, no matter how challenging it might be, whereas others might not have the same sticking power. I’m honest, direct and straight to the point, but sometimes my mouth moves more quickly than my brain!
What can I do as an employer?
Those with neurologically diverse conditions process information and communicate in different ways, at least when compared to the roughly 80% majority of the population that has standardised and set our expectations as to what should be considered ‘normal’. Therefore, they may be unsuccessful at interview as they don’t ‘come across’ well, despite numerous professional and academic qualifications on their CV.
According to a Harvard Business Review article, ‘Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage’, most companies need to adjust their recruitment, selection and career development policies and processes to make sure their companies are fully accessible to neurodiverse talent and that these individuals will be successfully nurtured there.
Keep in mind that everyone is different; one person’s experience with autism, for example, will be entirely different from another’s, so be prepared to make individual adjustments in the workplace such as providing headphones for those with autism and ADHD to reduce oratory over-stimulation, and make sure they have a quiet space to work when they need to concentrate. James and Nathan agreed that no adjustments would be necessary, as Blackfield already provided him with a supportive environment and he knows he has a quiet space to go when needed, although James would talk to his team to see if they had any questions.
Personally, I just learned to manage my expectations much better. I used to (sometimes still do) get carried away and over-excited at potential prospects. We all know recruitment is a rollercoaster of emotions, but with ADHD I’ve found this to be more exaggerated.
More information can be found for organisations via this link: https://www.neurodiversityweek.com/business-resources
Where can I find support?
If any part of this article resonates with you and you would like to find out more, try the links below in the first instance or contact your GP. If you’re an individual with any of these or other conditions that come under the neurodiverse umbrella, and you’re interested in a career in recruitment, we’d love to hear from you! Contact our Talent team via the button below to learn more about the opportunities we have available and how Blackfield Associates will support and celebrate you!