Neurodiversity in IT recruitment (and why you should embrace it)

The modern workplace should be an equal and inclusive one. Yet embracing neurodiversity in IT recruitment can actually be directly beneficial for organisations – as well as morally right.

Because Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) can be – at minimum – a box to tick for many businesses when it comes to race or gender. But many firms overlook the advantages that neurodiverse people bring to the table.

Here is why more and more organisations are finding it is well worth their while to consider the often-overlooked neurodiverse section of the workforce when recruiting:

What is neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity can be summarised as human brains and minds being different and how those differences cause people to learn and process information, think, and behave differently.

Some of the most common neurological conditions that are associated with neurodiversity are ADHD and autism as well as dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Most people agree that the term was invented by Harvey Blume (a journalist at The Atlantic magazine) to cover all differences in brain function.

“Who can say,” Blume wrote, “what form of wiring will be best at any given moment?”

And it’s this attitude that businesses can most profit from when it comes to the potential benefits of engaging with neurodiversity properly in the IT and engineering recruitment process.

Why embrace neurodiversity when hiring for IT jobs?

1) Diversity breeds success

Studies have shown that all things being equal, businesses with a diverse workforce (typically, employees from a range of economic backgrounds, genders, racial backgrounds, sexuality, and more) will outperform those that are more uniform.

Increasing numbers of organisations are recognising this applies to neurodiversity too. In recent years, Ernst & Young, Microsoft, Morgan Chase, and even the British Intelligence services have realised that neurodivergent talent gives them access to more creativity and problem-solving potential.

2) Different (potentially advanced) abilities

It’s not a universal rule. In fact, the whole point of embracing neurodiversity is acknowledging that everyone’s brain works differently. But there is plenty of evidence that some neurodivergent people have skills and abilities that can be a huge advantage to organisations, such as the ability to:

– Recognise patterns within large datasets, conduct advanced analysis or data processing

– Concentrate for long periods, hugely boosting the productivity of some teams

– Solve complex problems creatively or unconventionally (but effectively)

– Innovate with revolutionary “outside of the box” ideas

– Improve management leadership skills as they become more inclusive

3) A talent pool that’s wider and largely untapped

In the US, neurodivergent people are eight times more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people and three times as likely as people with a disability. At the same time, over half of neurodivergent people in a recent survey said their current job doesn’t test their abilities.

This is a huge and untapped talent pool. It’s also one that seems to be rewarding companies like those listed above with higher-than-average talent retention rates. This is vital in today’s often candidate-led engineering and IT jobs markets.

A neurodiverse workforce brings advantages

In the media and even in the workplace, neurodivergent people can be perceived or portrayed as “different”. They may behave or speak in a way that is indeed different to other people.

Yet, as Wired magazine writer (and author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity) Steve Silberman commented, “Not all the features of atypical human operating systems are bugs.”

Organisations in sectors as varied as software engineering and state intelligence are now realising that the huge and largely untapped neurodiverse talent pool can give them access to a wide range of beneficial abilities in everything from problem-solving to innovation.

Next time you’re hiring for an engineering or IT job, it’s worth asking yourself: should I really be prioritising someone with “excellent communication skills”? Or do I want someone who might not, but who has an incredible ability to actually do the work?

Looking to hire from an extensive talent pool of the most qualified candidates?

Let’s talk. Ernest Gordon is a specialist engineering and IT recruitment company.

Talk to us today about your staffing needs and our proven, open, and honest recruitment process.