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Neurodiversity recruitment: how neuro-inclusive are you?

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​We spoke to Jack Johnson, Business Director and Regional Manager for our Risk & Compliance division about inclusive recruitment practices, especially for neurodivergent people. Jack shares his thoughts and advice below. If you have any questions or need guidance with your inclusive recruitment approach, contact Jack.

Autistica estimates 1 in 70 people in the UK are autistic, but official figures indicate around 680,000 working-age individuals report autism as a long-term condition.

Despite the desire to work, only three in 10 autistic individuals are employed, facing a pay gap and higher unemployment rates than counterparts. Barriers include inadequate employer preparation, biased hiring practices, and insufficient support from career advisors / recruiters. Autistic individuals can encounter challenges in interviews and maintaining employment due to inaccessible environments and lack of necessary adjustments. Many can be unaware of their legal rights regarding accommodations, and access to adjustments is inconsistent, with employers often lacking knowledge of autism.

What can we do as recruitment professionals and employers to promote a more diverse work force?

  1. Training and Awareness – Educate current and future employees on their legal rights, did you know that under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to the interview process?

  2. Making inclusion the norm – Almost a third of autistic people reported feeling unable to discuss their adjustment needs to future employers, and fewer than one in five felt uncomfortable discussing this across their whole organisation. Ensuring that inclusion is ingrained throughout the entire recruitment process will help us ensure that no applicants slip through the net. This shift removes the burden from individuals to request accommodations. Embracing more inclusive practices would benefit employers in general, allowing all candidates to showcase their abilities, ultimately enabling their skills and experiences to be appropriately matched to job requirements.

  3. Modernising recruitment processes – Interviewers should work with their recruitment partners to provide clear communication ahead of any interview. By sharing interview questions, practical tests or assignments before the interview would better allow candidates to demonstrate their skills required for the role and help manage any pre interview issues. Interviewers should also place greater emphasis on assessing a candidate’s skillset and ability relevant to the job, rather than social cues or non-verbal communication.

  4. Job descriptions –Job descriptions can pose significant barriers for autistic individuals. They are often overly lengthy and encompass every conceivable aspect of a role. Consequently, some autistic individuals disqualify themselves, believing the position exceeds their abilities. The language used in conventional job descriptions poses considerable challenges. Confusing jargon, unclear statements, as well as generic sections, may deter individuals from applying.

  5. The use of CRM systems and online job portals – Numerous organisations are delegating their recruitment screening to firms using automated filters, or artificial intelligence (AI) systems to vet candidates, or they’re expecting candidates to complete pages and pages of irrelevant questions or repetitions of what is already on their CV. This can significantly reduce the number of applications for a role.  

There are a number of exciting initiatives across the UK to help increase the number of autistic people in the workforce. Sir Robert Buckland MP has launched a new autism employment review and, charities such as Autistica have launched employment plans that look to double the employment rate for autistic people by 2030.

This year IDEX Consulting are partnering with ‘Autism Forward’ to raise awareness and support those with autism into employment. Autism Forward provide funding for adults on the autistic spectrum allowing them to access mentoring services to aid access for employment and employability. We will be posting regular updates throughout the year and other opinion pieces on our social media channels.

Our specialist consultants at IDEX are all trained to offer expert advice to clients and individuals on how to promote inclusivity and diversity in the workforce, so please do get in touch should you have any questions. If you would like support with your inclusive recruitment approach, contact Jack.