Is Your Company Neurodiversity-Friendly? The Importance of Assessing Neuroinclusion
I work at auticon, a majority-autistic technology company that helps our clients hire, support, and retain neurodivergent talent. We hear from a lot of companies that are interested in becoming neurodiversity-friendly employers, but they’re not sure where to start. We’ve learned from our more than 10 years of experience that the best starting point is conducting a neuroinclusion maturity assessment. An assessment answers the questions, “Where is our company on its path to neuroinclusion? What are we already doing well and what are the specific steps we can take to improve?” Here are three of the ways that assessing neuroinclusion can drive positive change within companies:
Getting the Whole Picture
If you want to know how you can improve on something, it helps to start by evaluating how you’re currently doing. The same is true for neuroinclusion in the workplace. At auticon we call this identifying your company’s neuroinclusion maturity state. We created a neuroinclusion maturity assessment called ñima that helps identify this by capturing the experiences, culture, behaviors, processes, practices, and policies from with the organization.
ñima is a four-part quantitative and qualitative assessment that comprises of face-to-face interviews, an anonymous survey for managers, an anonymous survey for employees, and a thorough review of your chosen materials and processes. Our assessment identifies your company’s maturity state across every stage of the employee lifecycle, from job descriptions and recruitment practices, to onboarding, employee development, performance reviews, and retention. These stages and topics are the areas we know impact neurodivergent talent, their managers, and their teams.
The result is a comprehensive view of what your neurodivergent candidates and employees experience, from the time of their application through their entire tenure with the company. By the end of the assessment, you will be clear on what you do well, what we can help you enhance, and where the gaps are that we can help you fill through training, job coaching, and other solutions.
Good data is the foundation of any assessment and improvement process for companies. I mentioned above that auticon’s assessment approach is both quantitative and qualitative. This process gathers a huge amount of invaluable data to inform your company’s neuroinclusion journey.
Through reviewing materials, interviewing employees and managers, and conducting focus groups and surveys, we are able to gather multiple information points about each stage of the employee lifecycle. Let’s take accommodations as an example: first we review your company’s materials to understand your documented accommodations process. Then, by speaking with your HR leader, we learn how and how frequently the process is implemented. And finally, by asking employees and managers, we learn their firsthand experience with the process. Did it go according to plan? Have most managers done the process or even know what it is? Did employees know that they could ask for accommodations? This range of information and perspectives helps us identify any discrepancies between policy and practice. From there, we’re able to pinpoint the key areas where improvement is needed.
Informing Your Company’s Unique Path to Neuroinclusion
Assessing neuroinclusion ensures that you can understand exactly where your company is on its path to neuroinclusion and where you need to go. Each client’s unique pathway after assessment is based on:
- Outputs of our collaborative findings and pathway workshop
- Existing business goals
- Existing challenges and their impact on the business and goals
- Existing DEI strategy
- Existing culture
- Business size
- A company-wide or department approach
- Allotted budget and time commitment
The next step involves identifying which trainings, services, and policy/practice changes will be most useful. Then we begin implementation of the agreed-upon strategy with a dedicated neuroinclusion advisor from auticon. This highly tailored approach yields far more returns than following general best practices, which don’t take into account your company’s specific situation, goals, and what you’re already doing well. Our approach produces timely, concrete, achievable changes that will make a real difference for your neurodivergent employees.
If you’re ready to begin your company’s neuroinclusion journey, contact us to get started. You can also download auticon’s free Guide to Neuroinclusion in the Workplace, which covers the case for neuroinclusion at work, how to get leadership buy-in, and the steps to building a company culture where neurodivergent employees can thrive and grow.
About the Author
Louise Stone leads recruitment and neuroinclusion services for auticon US. Since joining auticon in 2020, she has been at the helm of the company's autism-friendly recruitment process and led the development of a “ready to work” community of autistic job seekers. Louise is autistic and frequently writes and speaks on autism and employment issues from both her personal and professional experience.