Embracing More Neurodiversity in the Workplace
Updated: Feb 17
As a long-time teacher of young children and mother of a young adult with disabilities, I am passionate about creating awareness in the many ways those with disabilities contribute and enhance society. National Disability Employment Awareness month in October was a good reminder of the many benefits to hiring someone with disabilities. As many areas are experiencing a shortage of qualified workers, looking to the disability community is a very viable option.
There are examples of companies doing just that across the country. Starting in December 2020, Google Headquarters in California has teamed up with Stanford University in an effort to make its workforce more neuro-diverse. The company said that it will work with experts from the Stanford Neurodiversity Project — part of the university’s medical school — to train as many as 500 Google Cloud managers and others who are integral in the hiring process to work more effectively with candidates who have autism. Stanford will also help coach job applicants with autism and the support will continue if candidates are hired.
According to Rob Enslin, president of global customer operations for Google Cloud, there will also be changes to the interview process for those who are part of the Autism Career Program in order to be more accommodating. Candidates with autism may receive extra interview time, be offered questions in advance or be able to do their interview in writing. “These accommodations don’t give those candidates an unfair advantage,” Enslin said in a blog post about the new program. “It’s just the opposite: They remove an unfair disadvantage so candidates have a fair and equitable chance to compete for the job.”
Embracing more neurodiversity in the workplace is something that all companies can do, even those outside of big tech. According to The Lucas County (Ohio) Board of Developmental Disabilities’ Sarra Burnham, community inclusion & employment manager, some companies may have a misconstrued perception or lack understanding of what it means to have an employee with a disability working for them.
"A disability doesn't define a person. Everybody has individual strengths that they can bring."
In addition to the many benefits of hiring someone with disabilities, there are many resources available to guide the process and support those with disabilities (and their employers) in the workplace, including Mays & Associates, Ltd. Many of our associates have years of experience working with people with all different abilities and are ready to help you.
There are a lot of other great resources in Northwest Ohio and the country, check out these organizations as well:
The State of Ohio’s Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities