As part of a campaign with the charity Made with Dyslexia, and in an effort to destigmatise dyslexia in the workplace, LinkedIn is now allowing users to tag ‘Dyslexic Thinking’ as one of their listed skills.
The new scheme could potentially usher in a variety of benefits, such as a deeper understanding of how dyslexia could manifest in the workplace and the possibility of greater representation and visibility for people with dyslexia.
There have been longstanding stigmas around neurodiversity and dyslexia – 9 out of 10 people with dyslexia, for example, say it makes them feel angry, stupid, or embarrassed. Dyslexia is often viewed through an incredibly narrow prism: just being a condition that affects children, for example, or only affecting reading or writing. If through visibility, people are able to understand a little more about the reality of the experience and the way dyslexic peoples’ minds work, these negative connotations and any associated biases are far more likely to be eliminated.
The ability to use the ‘Dyslexic Thinking’ tag on LinkedIn can raise awareness by spotlighting role models in business who have dyslexia, such as Sir Richard Branson, which can help inspire the next generation of neurodiverse leaders in the workplace to be proud of, and fully harness their dyslexia.
To add power to this new initiative, it’s essential that business leaders also review the current levels of awareness of dyslexia within their organisation. They have a responsibility to expand employees’ and hiring managers’ understanding of neurodiversity to make sure that the benefits of dyslexic thinking at work can be realised.
For example, some of the associated advantages it can afford include ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking, strong narrative skills, and increased spatial reasoning. Just as important is the need for organisations to commit to turning this awareness into action: while removing unconscious bias is of course a necessary first step, it’s time that we move towards conscious and active inclusion, reflected in all areas of the business.
In terms of incorporating conscious inclusion into the hiring process, organisations should focus on gaining insight into candidates’ skills, knowledge, and experiences, rather than focusing on traditional elements of the hiring process such as the presentation of CVs.
By expanding what they think about when they refer to ‘the best’ candidate, businesses can be more open to diversity of thought, and consequently a more diverse talent pool to choose from. In terms of inclusive hiring processes for those who are neurodiverse, integrating reasonable adjustments from the beginning of the hiring process will allow all candidates to be assessed on a level playing field compared to neurotypical counterparts.
By moving past seeing neurodiversity as something to be overcome, we should be more forthcoming in promoting ‘dyslexic thinking’ and other neurodiversity as potential strengths, in line with LinkedIn’s initiative.
After all, diversity of thought is key to a company’s overall growth as well as revenue and capability for innovation. Research by PwC has found that organisations with more cognitive diversity are more likely to embrace different perspectives, providing opportunities to change and evolve. Where leaders understand diversity first-hand, they are far better able to make improvements to ways of working based on employees’ and customers’ backgrounds, resulting in more relevant offerings and better experiences for customers. With this understanding, conscious and active inclusion of those with dyslexia isn’t just morally right, it also makes great business sense.
As with any initiative, there is always potential for discrimination. However, organisations have the potential, as changemakers in their industries and wider communities, to use their platforms to not only educate their own employees on dyslexia and neurodiversity but also to take a compelling stand against any forms of discrimination they see.
This is a promising and bold first step by LinkedIn to shine a light on and celebrate those with dyslexia. It also offers the potential to help destigmatise neurodiversity and affords businesses the chance to mitigate potential biases around ‘dyslexic thinking’. Ideally, to fully embrace this idea of diversity of thought, this move should be replicated to include all forms of neurodiversity, with tags for ‘autistic thinking’ or ‘ADHD thinking’, for example, as companies grow and evolve their strategies to be inclusive of all.
In this article, you learned that:
- Around 9 out of 10 people with dyslexia, for example, say it makes them feel angry, stupid, or embarrassed.
- Advantages of being neurodiverse include ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking, strong narrative skills, and increased spatial reasoning.
- Diversity of thought is key to a company’s overall growth as well as revenue and capability for innovation.