Becoming Neuroinclusive: How Tech Organizations Can Succeed

Here’s how organizations in the tech sector can adjust their environments and policies to be more inclusive of all employees.

Christine Tanner, Lead Psychologist, HCA Healthcare UK

May 8, 2024

4 Min Read
colorful cutout people representing diversity
Jakub Krechowicz via Adobe Stock

People who are neurodivergent may process and solve problems in different ways. This can provide greater challenges when navigating a working world designed for neurotypical individuals. In the tech sector, half of those who identified as neurodivergent felt impacted by the conditions in the workplace, citing their work environment and company culture as exacerbating factors. When you consider that one in five people in the tech sector identify as definitely or likely neurodivergent, it highlights how many people may have felt a level of discomfort within their workplace. There has undoubtedly been a shift in the last few years with organizations having a greater awareness regarding the needs of neurodivergent individuals, but there is much to still do. Organizations understandably want to have productive and efficient teams. If workplace processes are attentive to individual needs, it fosters greater inclusivity and helps employees to feel valued and comfortable in their role. This then impacts positively on company culture and staff retention. 

Recognizing Neurodiversity and Diverse Thinking

When it comes to the tech sector, neurodiverse thinking can add valuable insights and different perspectives. Some individuals may pay strong attention to detail and hyperfocus in, whilst others provide ‘bigger picture’ thinking when problem solving. Studies show people with dyslexia, for example, have strong analytical thinking skills and an eye for spotting trends, while autistic people may have higher levels of concentration and strong mathematical abilities. Each person brings their unique combination of strengths. These types of skills can be incredibly valuable to tech teams; for example, cybersecurity, where it’s crucial to understand certain patterns and alerts and their meanings. 

Related:Neurodiversity in Cybersecurity: Broadening Perspectives, Offering Inclusivity

The diversity of this talent can lead to improved problem solving, creative thinking, and provide a more competitive edge for company success. 

Assessments and Coaching Services  

It’s important that organizations assess their work environment, starting with their recruitment processes and leading through each part of the employee journey. Employers should also be training managers to ensure every employee receives equal opportunities to be supported and thrive at work. Organizations should also embed employee assistance programs (EAP) into their businesses, particularly ones that understand neuro-inclusivity and can support a neurodiverse workforce. They should provide a focus on coaching and assessing how to best assist individuals. 

Related:Neurodiversity Hiring Will be a Competitive Advantage

This can also include launching a neurodiversity policy, to support those with a diagnosis or considering assessment. With this, organizations can be guided on mentoring or counselling to help them adapt well to new conditions or tasks and establish where they may need extra support. Managers should also be receiving awareness training on how they can best assist their team members going forward and to avoid bias in the workplace. For some employees, it may be beneficial to conduct a needs assessment with a neurodiversity expert via the organization's health provider to get a full picture of the employee's needs.  

Regarding the bigger picture, organizations could also ensure that their health benefits are inclusive of neurodiverse employees and offer services to suit their requirements. This should involve access to therapy outside of the workplace and access to health services that can be specific to neurodivergent challenges.  

One of the keys to getting the most out of any team member is understanding their needs. To enable this, it’s important that the organization fosters inclusive spaces in which neurodivergent individuals feel safe to disclose their diagnoses and don’t fear bias or discrimination at work.  

Related:CIOs Can Build a Resilient IT Workforce with AI and Unconventional Talent

Paying attention to working environments and sensory needs is crucial. Workplace adjustments do not need to be costly. For instance, lowering light intensity or moving people away from noisy areas to aid concentration. If this isn’t feasible, employers could provide noise cancelling earphones or screen filters. In fact, setting aside specific areas where all workers can decompress could be helpful to all employees.  

Businesses that are able to, could also think about flexibility, and be aware that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all working model. To best accommodate their employees, employers should have open conversations to understand different needs and preferred working environments. This will help them to develop a greater empathetic leadership style, which in turn will help their employees feel more comfortable at addressing any preferences they may have.  

The option to be able to work from home, as an example, may be better and more productive for some neurodivergent individuals. It’s important to remember that no individual will be the same, which is why having conversations and being open to receiving feedback is crucial to creating an inclusive culture. Coaching and co-coaching may also be helpful in this area. 

While the benefits of a neuro-inclusive workplace are becoming more apparent, for this to continue, it is important that organizations take further steps to make all their staff feel safe and supported to discuss their needs. This leads to feeling valued and thriving, and ultimately a better workplace and agile business.  


About the Author(s)

Christine Tanner

Lead Psychologist, HCA Healthcare UK

Christine Tanner is a dedicated Lead Psychologist registered with the HCPC at Roodlane Medical New Broad Street. With a solid foundation in psychology, she holds a degree and two postgraduate degrees, accompanied by specialized training. This includes a Diploma in CBT and Acceptance Commitment Therapy accompanied by expertise in Integral Eye Movement Therapy and Executive Coaching. She holds a post of senior fellow at Imperial College London. 

Over the past 10 years, Christine has applied her skills and knowledge across various health and work settings in London and the UK. In addition to her general clinical work, she specializes in working with, and assessing neurodivergent individuals.  Christine also actively engages in training other health professionals and teams, guiding them on effective patient support and collaborative teamwork. She also works with business organizations to support neuro-inclusivity through training, coaching, policy review and supporting managers.   

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