How to Make a Standard Recruitment Process More Neuro-Inclusive

Evelyn Wills joined Society’s APAC team as a cross sector Senior Researcher in March 2024. She has a keen interest in diversity, equity and inclusion with a particular specialisation in Neurodiversity, and has penned this article on how you can make a standard recruitment process more Neuro-Inclusive.

I am delighted to have joined the Society Team at the start of March. I started my career in executive search and then moved into broader talent acquisition, so I am thrilled to be back in the fold.  I firmly believe that it takes diverse and complex teams to tackle varied and complex challenges. The fact that Society is built on similar ideals was a significant contributor to my joining the team and one of many reasons I am proud to represent the business.

I have a special interest in neurodiversity in the workplace, which originally stemmed from my own experiences with dyslexia but has developed in line with my favourite part of executive search – setting up people and organisations to succeed. I am currently pursuing a master's degree focusing on how workplaces can evolve to be more neuro-inclusive, and I have previously looked at ways in which we can improve a standard search process for neurodivergent talent.

The estimates of the proportion of the population that falls under the neurodiverse umbrella sit between (15% and 20%) it's vital that businesses looking to tap into the myriad of benefits of a diverse workforce get neuro-inclusion right. It is important that we continue to develop our awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace. Recent statistics show that we still have a long way to go. A report from Diversity Works New Zealand found that 32.1 percent of neurodiverse employees felt their condition negatively affected their career development opportunities, and employment statistics across the US and UK reflect much higher rates of unemployment in the Neurodiverse population compared with the average.

While targeted neurodiversity recruitment, support and retention programs are important, plenty of things can be done to make a standard process or workplace more Neuro-Inclusive. Most of these things are universally beneficial, especially those who are Neurodiverse and facing other challenges, such as acclimatising to a new country, culture or language.  

Some factors worth considering in your process include:

1: Treat each candidate as an individual – No two candidates are the same. 
•    If you have met one Neurodiverse person, you have met one neurodiverse person. It is vital to engage with the individual and not make assumptions about strengths, weaknesses, or needs. 
•    Have an inclusivity statement. Ask each candidate if there are accommodations or adjustments that they would find helpful through the process and be ready to respond to requests. It can be beneficial to include some examples of accommodations. 
•    Think about culture add rather than fit. 
•    Consider the role of and weight given to psychometric and personality testing, as these are often designed for people who process information more neuro-typically and can be less effective and more confusing for neurodivergent candidates.

2: Tailor the process to the role  
•    Only assess and advertise for the skills, attributes, and experience the candidate needs to succeed. If you recruit for attributes that the role does not demand, you risk ruling out candidates who are an excellent fit for the role but not the process and, vice versa, hiring someone who is an excellent fit for your process but not the role. 
•    Take time to explore potential bias or proxies in decision-making.
•    Ask relevant, concise, experienced-based questions and give candidates time to formulate a reply.

3: Communicate clearly and consistently. 
•    This allows each candidate to process and prepare as best suits them.
•    Map out the process and outline each stage and what will be required of the candidate ahead of time. This should be provided in written form so that candidates can refer to it.
•    Ahead of Interviews: Share details such as who will be interviewing, the style of questions/ focus areas that will be explored or, even better, the questions themselves. 
•    Give the candidate as much opportunity to learn about the organisation and the team as possible. Options include open hours to let people learn more about the role before applying as well as making time in the process for them to see the workspace and meet potential colleagues.

4: Provide a sensory-friendly interviewing environment. 
•    Choose a quiet and calm space. Consider the noise levels and complexity, lighting, and smells. 
•    When interviewing virtually, maintain the same environment as you would in person. 
•    During the interview, show the candidate where they would be working.

5: Make sure that the working environment is inclusive and adaptable. 
•    An inclusive workspace must back up inclusive search processes.

At Society, we understand the importance of continuously working to refine our processes so that they are inclusive and connect great people with great roles. We value the opportunity to partner with our clients and openly encourage practices that support diversity and inclusion.  

If you would like to discuss Neurodiversity in the workplace in more detail please feel free to email evelyn.wills@society-search 

Related Articles