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Neurodiversity calendar    Dec 14, 2023

4 key areas for developing neuroinclusion ownership

This post explores key departments and considerations for effective neuroinclusion ownership to help create a neuroinclusive workplace.

Increasingly, organizations across all industries are acknowledging the huge value of diversity of thought. As many are realizing, embracing neurodiversity not only promotes creativity, problem-solving, and unique perspectives but also acts as a powerful catalyst for growth. By providing tailored support, accommodations, and creating inclusive policies, companies can unlock innovation and secure a competitive edge in a rapidly evolving landscape, all while demonstrating their commitment to DE&I initiatives.

Alongside these benefits, it’s crucial for organizations to recognize that this is an essential part of their corporate social responsibility. Considering that 1 in 5 individuals has a neurodivergent condition, support structures are imperative, and neuro-informed leadership teams must be established and integrated. However, a well-informed strategy with the best of intentions is nothing without ownership: How do you decide who will be responsible for driving the strategy forward and be accountable for its outcomes?

This post explores the specific departments and areas to focus on when developing neuroinclusion ownership to provide actionable steps for organizations looking to embrace neurodiversity effectively.

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The departments and teams to consider for ownership
4 areas to develop when approaching neuroinclusion ownership

Neuroinclusion ownership: where to begin?

Creating a neuroinclusion strategy isn't a one-size-fits-all blueprint; it varies based on factors like size, budget, and time for each organization. However, the initial commitment from the board and senior-level management is crucial. Driving change means championing neuroinclusion from the top down and seeking guidance and training from external experts during development. This ensures that the right people take ownership and feel comfortable dedicating their time and knowledge in the right way. The process will also naturally expand individual job expectations, so allocating a healthy training budget will help to support this.

Depending on the business size, many departments can lead or own the neuroinclusion strategy for various reasons. Here are a few examples to consider when approaching ownership at your own organization:

Human Resources/People Team

As the center point for DE&I initiatives and employee well-being resources, the existing HR team plays a central role in rolling out, training, and maintaining the neuroinclusion strategy. They will support the employee lifecycle, ensuring all needs are met throughout hiring, training, accommodations, and the exiting processes.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Employee-led groups are typically formed around shared characteristics, such as neurodiversity. They offer valuable insights, perspectives, and support for developing and executing the neuroinclusion strategy and also create an internal mentoring support network.

Legal and Compliance

Considering that neurodivergent conditions are protected characteristics, the legal and compliance team's involvement is imperative. The neuroinclusion strategy must align with relevant employment laws, regulations, and accessibility standards.

Keep in mind that every organization's strategy must be tailored to meet its own needs: what works best for your business might not work for another! Whatever departments you identify as key players in your neuroinclusion strategy, collaboration across the entire business is essential for success. Everyone must be aware of the role they will play and who is accountable for specific actions.

4 areas to develop when approaching neuroinclusion ownership

As we’ve touched on in this post so far, embracing neurodiversity brings numerous benefits, and by fully supporting employees, businesses can tap into the potential of diverse talent and bridge any skills gaps. But to truly embrace neurodiversity and ensure company-wide change, ownership is essential.

Remember: When it comes to ownership, as you consider the areas below and identify the key stakeholders that will be involved, it's essential that you answer the following as you work through the process:

  • What positive impact can this area have on neuroinclusion?
  • What objectives will we focus on?
  • What actions need to be taken?
  • Who will be responsible for ensuring each action happens?

1. Goals and Accountability

To effectively implement neuroinclusion, setting measurable and specific goals is crucial. In recognizing the value that neurodiversity brings, businesses can align these goals with their overall mission. Specific targets might include allocating time and budget for achieving neuroinclusion objectives. These may involve implementing inclusive recruitment practices, providing comprehensive training for all employees (including management and leadership), and ensuring an understanding of reasonable adjustments.

2. Culture and impact

A data-driven response is usually the preferred way of measuring an organization's current level of diversity. Conducting a neuroinclusion audit enables an evaluation of policies, practices, and the overall environment to identify strengths, gaps, and opportunities for promoting neurodiversity and inclusion. This includes reviewing recruitment processes, accommodations, training programs, accessibility measures, employee support mechanisms, and the overall cultural awareness and acceptance of neurodiverse individuals. Measuring neurodiversity levels within a business can be challenging. Firstly, as it is a protected characteristic, some employees may hesitate to share their diagnosis due to fear of discrimination. Additionally, many may not even know that they are neurodivergent or may not identify as disabled, and therefore, campaigns promoting neuroinclusion should focus on individual needs without mentioning specific conditions.

By using data to measure and quantify neuroinclusion efforts, organizations can create transparency, accountability, and a sense of ownership across the business. This approach encourages leaders, managers, and employees at all levels to actively contribute to building a neuroinclusive culture and ensures that progress is continuously monitored and improved.

3. Leadership training

Providing neuroinclusive training to all leaders initially and as ongoing professional development is crucial. Regardless of any previous training or personal experience with neurodiversity, this ensures that leaders align with the organization's unique neuroinclusive goals. Discussions about neuroinclusion training and expectations should occur during the interview process with new hires. While it's okay if new joiners don't have previous experience, their willingness to learn about neuroinclusion must align with core company values.

4. Authentic investment

Research has shown that organizations that support neurodiversity have happier employees, increased innovation, higher productivity, and reduced staff turnover. However, rolling out neuroinclusive practices may need several adjustments in the initial phase. Some employees may have unconscious biases and misunderstandings that can be addressed through the right training and exposure. Organizations can achieve authentic and lasting investment in neuroinclusion that benefits the entire business by creating a positive culture change rather than simply a tick-box exercise.

In summary

Fostering a sense of ownership over neuroinclusion is paramount to transforming well-intended ideas into impactful, actionable strategies. It goes beyond a project’s ‘success’ or ‘failure’; it revolves around a willingness to own and drive the process and be accountable for its consequences.

The key is accountability, and it's crucial to maintain open lines of communication throughout the organization to ensure that neuroinclusive initiatives not only thrive but also continue to progress.

Find out more and start your journey towards a neuroinclusive workplace here.

Voted as one of the most influential women in Cyber Security, Holly is a diversity champion and international speaker for neurodiversity, cyber security, and online behaviour.


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4 key areas for developing neuroinclusion ownership

4 key areas for developing neuroinclusion ownership

This post explores key departments and considerations for effective neuroinclusion ownership to help create a neuroinclusive workplace.