“Leading companies are accelerating disability inclusion as the next frontier of corporate social responsibility and mission-driven investing.” – Ted Kennedy, Disabilities Rights Attorney

By: Rebecca Deering

I attended Inclusive Hiring Strategies, conducted by Saint Joseph’s University and Kinney Center for Autism Support.

This session was particularly interesting as neurodiversity was the primary focus, typically used to describe individuals with autism spectrum disorder. In the past, neurodiversity may not have been at the forefront when companies have targeted recruiting and hiring efforts for those with disabilities. It was demonstrated in this session that hiring neurodiverse individuals can result in great benefits, such as return in investment, team benefits, and overall cost savings. A statistic was shared that a mixed team of neurodiverse and neurotypical individuals is 30% more productive than singular teams.

Of course, employers may face challenges when hiring neurodiverse employees, as these individuals may struggle with ambiguity and multi-tasking, which are common challenges faced in the standard workplace.

The presenters in this session encouraged employers to conduct outreach to universities and career centers to provide opportunities to the neurodiverse student population. Several strategies for inclusive interviewing were shared, as interviewing can be a main challenge for this type of candidate:

  • Having fewer interviewers
  • Providing written directions and instructions
  • Keeping the interviews to 45 minutes or less
  • Allowing the candidate to present a portfolio of their work
  • Being comfortable with moments of silence
  • Asking open-ended questions to generate conversation

As a talent professional, I found these suggestions ironic, as they are important for all populations, not just those that are neurodiverse. Keeping these ideas top of mind is key to providing positive experiences to prospective employees. There were also suggestions offered to support neurodiverse new hires which included having a mentor program, providing user manuals, and being explicit on policies – again, ideas that should be implemented for all employees, whether they have a disability or not. However, I learned these actions are especially important for neurodiverse candidates.

A statement offered during the session really resonated: “You do not need to lower the standards that apply to all employees, but you may need to offer accommodations that allow employees with disabilities to meet those standards.”

In summary, it is not difficult to be inclusive! As employers, we need to remember as individuals what’s important to us, and likely this is the same for someone that is neurodivergent.

About the Author

Rebecca Deering leads the talent function at Taiho Oncology, Inc., based in Princeton, NJ. She has extensive experience in talent acquisition and talent management working in the pharmaceutical and retail industries. Rebecca holds a BA from James Madison University and MBA from Temple University, with a concentration in Human Resources. Rebecca is also a member of Philly SHRM’s Thought Leadership Team.https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-deering-mba-sphr-a944021a/

Author’s Disclaimer: The content and opinions expressed in the article above are my own, and don’t necessarily reflect those of my employer.


Editor: Dennis Paris