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Bosses urged to help neurodiverse workers thrive

Date posted
19 March 2024
Press release
Marcus Boocock
Estimated reading time
3 minute read

Bosses must demonstrate their commitment to building positive cultures which enable neurodiverse colleagues to openly discuss their needs. The call has come from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) in a new white paper and follows survey findings which highlight how people are unwilling to speak about neurodiversity at work.

According to an online poll, done in late 2023, 70 per cent of neurodiverse people said they hadn’t told their current employer about their condition. Meanwhile, 50 per cent of people said they wouldn’t declare it on a job application.

Adding value

IOSH believes neurodiverse people add value to workplaces but is concerned that not enough is being done to encourage people to be open about conditions they have, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia.

The white paper is called Divergent thinking: embracing neurodiversity at work and is published during the global Neurodiversity Celebration Week (18-24 March). In the white paper, IOSH says building a positive organisational culture in which diverse employees thrive and are encouraged to share details of their needs goes well beyond just having policies and training and making individual adjustments wherever feasible, although those are all important building blocks.

IOSH says organisations must also think of ways to show to all employees its commitment, including:

  • leaders openly discussing their own experiences of neurodiversity
  • encouraging the setting up of neurodiverse groups or networks, and
  • ensuring there is a neurodiversity section in diversity and inclusion policies.

The paper calls for line managers to be trained to help them recognise and control unconscious bias and assumptions about individual capacity or behaviour.  There is also a call on businesses to ensure they cater for individual needs rather than a blanket approach.

Positive cultures

Stuart Hughes, IOSH President, said: “Our report highlights the importance of businesses encouraging positive cultures where people can openly discuss their needs.

“In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 made it a legal duty for employers to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate workers’ needs around neurodiversity and other conditions.

"It isn’t just a matter of staying within the law; businesses can really benefit from having such positive cultures where people be open and really thrive at work. Given the value that people with neurodiverse conditions bring to a business, failure to do this is a failure to maximise the resources in their organisation."

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“So our call to businesses is to ask themselves if they are doing all they can. They need to review the policies and procedures they have in place and act accordingly. There are significant benefits to be had from a diverse workforce where everyone is comfortable in being themselves.”

Divergent thinking (pdf) (882.727KB) (opens in a new tab)

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Last updated: 02 April 2024

Marcus Boocock

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  • Equality and diversity
  • Health and wellbeing
  • People and workforce