By Kirsty Cook
If your company aims to boost neurodiversity in its workforce and attract neurodivergent talent, it’s the right time to engage a neuroinclusion partner. This partner should be a subject matter expert capable of guiding you, sharing knowledge and experiences, and helping you create and implement a comprehensive plan that will meet both impact and strategic goals. This post will highlight five key attributes to look for in a neuroinclusion partner: professional experience and credibility, lived experience, a holistic approach, relevance and customization tailored to your company’s specific needs, and a data-driven process.
Professional Experience & Credibility
The first thing to look for is a partner with professional experience and credibility in neuroinclusion. How long have they been in this line of work? Who are their clients and what results have been achieved with them? What strengths, products, and services are included in their approach to neuroinclusion? And what qualifications make them uniquely suited to lead your company on this journey?
At auticon, for example, we have more than a decade of experience recruiting, employing, and supporting neurodivergent talent. As the world’s largest autistic-majority company, we’ve learned for ourselves what it means to be a genuine neuroinclusive employer.
Not only that, we’ve partnered with major companies across industries around the world to hire and effectively support autistic talent in their teams. And our job coaches have deep and long-standing experience supporting both neurodivergent employees and their managers.
Companies who partner with us on neuroinclusion gain access to all of this learning and experience.
Lived experience is knowledge gained through someone’s personal identity and history. An autistic professional with ADHD, for example, has lived experience of autism, ADHD, neurodivergence, and neurodiversity in the workplace, along with other intersectional identities like gender, race, parenthood, and culture.
When it comes to workplace inclusion, lived experience should go hand-in-hand with professional experience. In other words, neurodivergent people should be included in the design and decision making of each company’s neuroinclusion efforts. Similarly, any reputable neuroinclusion advisor will offer trainings and services that are informed and led by neurodivergent people.
At auticon, lived experience is the golden thread that ties all of our inclusion efforts together.
Neurodivergent professionals play key roles in leading, designing, building, reviewing, approving, and delivering all of our neuroinclusion services. But we have something else that we value as lived experience too: our lived experience of being a successful business as a neurodivergent-majority company, plus the direct experiences of our coaches in supporting a variety of strengths and challenges of neurodivergent people as well as managers.
A Holistic Approach to Neuroinclusion
Taking a holistic approach to neuroinclusion means offering perspectives and services that will effectively help an organization become neuroinclusive across all stages of the employee lifecycle, at all levels, across policies and practices. One example of a common approach that is not holistic is engaging in one-off neurodiversity training. While this is always done with the best of intentions, it won’t create impactful and lasting change. Another example is starting a neurodiversity hiring program without first making sure your managers are confident and able to retain the talent they hire.
These are some of the ways auticon ensures our approach is holistic:
- Conducting a neuroinclusion maturity assessment that examines what you’re doing well and where the gaps are for improved neuroinclusion across the employee lifecycle.
- Providing a dedicated neuroinclusion advisor that will lead the company through implementing the recommendations identified in the assessment.
- Designing customized neurodiversity learning pathways for leadership, management, and staff.
- Serving as a talent source to hire neurodivergent technology professionals at the company.
- Offering experienced job coaches as a resource to support neurodivergent employees and their managers.
Relevance & Customization
Neuroinclusion plans are not one-size-fits-all. If you are the head of Human Resources at a large multinational corporation or the owner of a small local business with 10 employees, your approach to neuroinclusion will understandably be different. Your neuroinclusion partner should be able to offer a plan tailored to your company that takes into account your:
- Business size
- Country and national culture
- Existing practices
- Goals and strategy
- Neurodivergent employees and their needs
When speaking with a prospective neuroinclusion partner, ask how they will approach meeting your company’s specific goals and needs.
Data-Driven Process & Results
How will you know whether your neuroinclusion plan is successful? The answer is data! Look for a neuroinclusion partner that takes a data-driven approach to assessing, improving, measuring, and reporting on your company’s neuroinclusion practices.
These are some of the ways auticon uses data to achieve success with our clients:
- Assessing the company’s neuroinclusion maturity level using a tailored, data-driven method that works in parallel to existing strategies and goals.
- Listening to their employees, both neurodivergent and non-neurodivergent.
- Reviewing existing practices with a strengths and challenges lens.
- Identifying specific, measurable goals and timelines.
- Tailoring metrics to align with each client’s goals and ESG reporting requirements.
- Tracking impact for annual reporting.
Ultimately, the path to neuroinclusion will be a unique and transformative journey for each company. The attributes we’ve explored here—professional experience, lived experience, a holistic approach, customization, and a data-driven process—all play critical roles in guiding you along this path. By seeking a partner who embodies these qualities, you’re not just gaining a consultant; you’re entering a partnership that reflects a genuine commitment to culture change for neuroinclusion.
With the right neuroinclusion partner, you’ll be on your way to building a company where neurodivergent employees can finally be their authentic selves and feel truly included, supported, and able to thrive in their careers.
For more details on the steps to building a neuroinclusive company, download auticon’s free guide for employers, “Neuroinclusion in the Workplace: a 360° Approach.”
About the Author
Kirsty Cook is the Global Director of Neuroinclusion Services for auticon. Kirsty, a late-diagnosed ADHD’er, has been with auticon for more than five years, first leading the coaching team and delivering the UK’s advisory services. She is also a certified performance coach specializing in positive psychology and a yoga teacher.