We Need To Talk About Neurodiversity

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“Neurodiversity is unseen and invisible” talking from four different neurodiverse perspectives was Wayne Deakin; ECD of Huge London, Mark Evans; Marketing director at Direct Line Group, Pip Jamieson; Founder of The Dots, Ali Hanan; Founder and Creative Director of Creative Equals and hosted by Roxanne Hobbs; Founder of The Hobbs Consultancy.

The panel discussed issues around neurodiversity and how being more neurodiverse can have positive impacts on business and creativity. “40% of self-made millionaires are dyslexic,” Jamieson, who is “delightfully dyslexic,” herself made a very good point that she has experienced issues in the recruitment process that need to be looked at. Dyslexic people are often screened out of application processes because of spelling and grammar errors that they can’t pick up on. It seems that this is not a completely alien thing as there are some businesses out there finding the interview process to not be that beneficial at finding the right person for the job. Task based interviews are becoming popular among creative businesses as it allows the candidate to effectively show how their brain works, and how they think, whilst also allowing those of different abilities to shine. Hanan made a comment about how her son, who has recently been diagnosed with autism, would sit in an interview room and come across as distracted and disinterested. He would be taking in information from the room and his surroundings, such as colours and textures, as well as being present in the interview. This attention to detail would largely benefit most roles however because of our expectations of social norms he would have struggled to get through the process.

The fact that 49% of people with dyslexia wish they never told their colleagues is disappointing for an industry that should be welcoming people from diverse backgrounds and lifestyles.

Deakin commented on how being “wired differently” is a competitive advantage and that’s the way we need to see it as an industry. Having a neurodiverse team will offer more varied skillsets that would boost both creativity and data analytics. Evans then joined the conversation talking about the taboo and stigma surrounding the ‘coming out’ of neurodiversities “49% of people regret disclosing their dyslexia to a manager” this was a sad thing to consider. The fact that 49% of people with dyslexia wish they never told their colleagues is disappointing for an industry that should be welcoming people from diverse backgrounds and lifestyles. The phrase dyslexia was coined in 1890 so the fact people are still hiding says a lot about how far we have yet to go. Deakin shared how he felt similar to how a gay man would feel coming out to his parents when he accepted that he was on the spectrum. He added that “shame thrives on secrecy” this conversation clearly needs to be had and there needs to be an empathy and a kindness around neurodiversity which all the panel agreed on.

Hanan’s advice to organisations was to stop expecting people to be “jack of all trades” people simply cannot be good at everything and so taking a strengths-based approach seems to be the way to empower and elevate a workforce and is the best way to create work that is interesting and captivating. She also shared a nice analogy of how the stone spear was created “it wasn’t the caveman round the fire yacking away, it was the autistic kid in the corner, chipping away exploring the options of what this stone could become”. Deakin also agreed that we have a charisma culture, a culture where we elevate extroverted people and box off people who are more introverted and quiet, this is something that organisations and agencies need to explore to create a workplace culture that elevates everyone as individuals playing to everyone’s strengths.

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