One of the biggest issues within IT Infrastructure recruitment is access to skilled IT talent. Some people argue that it’s a case of demand being too high for the supply of talent that is available, others say it’s a case of talent going unnoticed by recruiters. Today we’re taking a closer look at the latter one: untapped talent pools.
Diversity and inclusion have been important topics all-round, but especially in the fight against skills shortages. At Franklin Fitch we are committed to raise awareness and tackle biases towards diversity & inclusion matters within IT infrastructure. Diversity and inclusion cover many areas, the most known being diverse ranges in sexuality, cultures and philosophy. Today we’d like to talk about a diverse range of different modes of thinking a.k.a neurodiversity.
The term “neurodiversity” is used to describe people with certain neurological conditions or people who are on a neurodiverse spectrum. This includes conditions like autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia (a neurologically based physical disorder), social anxiety disorders, and others. People on the neurodiverse spectrum often have difficulties with social interaction and communication in the way a neurotypical person would cope with them, but many people with these ‘disorders’ also have higher-than average abilities, often in areas such as pattern recognition, concentration, memory or mathematics.
Autism affects more than one in 100 people which means a huge amount of talent. However, only 16% of autistic adults are in full-time employment and out of the ones that aren’t, 77% would like to be according to the national autistic society’s research. So now you might think ‘how come the tech industry hasn’t snapped all of these skilled workers up yet?’ Au contraire, many big tech companies like SAP, HPE and Microsoft (amongst others) have already implemented processes and programs to access neurodiverse talent. For those who haven’t it is probably a matter of one or some of the following.
Profile fit and awareness
One of the main issues is that neurodiverse people often don’t fit the profile or the common notions of what makes a good employee. Things like communication, sales-person-type personalities, the ability to conform to standard practices, emotional intelligence etc. Especially in larger companies HR and application processes are made to be scalable and applicable to the majority of the organisation. During an interview a neurodiverse person might behave different from a neurotypical person by making less eye contact or showing certain eccentricities. If the person interviewing isn’t aware of these conditions and doesn’t know how to work with them, the neurodiverse candidate might not get the job.
Conformity to standardised procedures
Streamlining processes and procedures makes organisations scalable, efficient and effective. However, employees on a neurodiverse spectrum might need accommodations outside the standard. Things like installing different lighting, or providing noise-cancelling headphones or separate workstations aren’t usually too expensive but require businesses and managers to individualise where they would usually standardise.
Awareness, Training and Development
As with most things there needs to be a plan, a strategy. Neurodiverse employees, like all employees, deserve career progression, training and development. Furthermore, neurotypical employees and managers need to be trained on working with their neurodiverse colleagues to avoid friction. This can be supported through social partners such as government or non-profit organisations that are committed to helping neurodiverse people obtain jobs. Managing neurodiverse employees means for some leaders that they have to further individualise their leadership and work with the individuals to find out what works best for them and the company.
Awareness is a big factor when hiring neurodiverse talent. Apart from the above, neurodiverse candidates bring a lot of benefits for employers. The biggest one being: A different way of thinking.
Diversity and inclusion have one big advantage – variety. As Steve Jobs put it “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. If you grow your team in a diverse way, employing talent that thinks differently you might end up changing processes for the better. Innovation is fuelled by differences. Changing the perspective on a problem often brings the solution. That is exactly what a neurodiverse workforce can do for you. Research shows that teams with neurodiverse workers become more productive. Neurodiverse workers often have the ability to spot patterns others do not see.
If you’d like to know more about hiring neurodiverse talent the following links might be useful for you: https://www.autism.org.uk/, https://specialisternefoundation.com/,
written by Leonie Schaefer
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