Neurodiverse people bring in-demand perspectives to technology but are not being supported and empowered across employment, says a new 2023 EqualTech report by Sparta Global.
Sparta Global surveyed 500 senior and C-suite individuals working in organisations across almost every industry sector. It found that the digital skills gap in the UK continues to present significant challenges for UK employers and the wider economy.
However, when companies attract and retain neuro-inclusive digital teams, they are more likely to gain and sustain a competitive advantage across areas such as; computational thinking, observation, adaptability and intuition.
Positively, 87% of digital leaders surveyed believe that neurodiversity will be a top priority for their companies in 2023, and 54% stated that COVID-19 accelerated conversations around a commitment to neurodiversity.
Awareness does not equal change
In contrast, the research showed that awareness had not equalled change. Just 21% of respondents work for businesses that tailor their recruitment practices to neurodivergent candidates. This means 79% of organisations have taken no steps to accommodate those with neurodiverse characteristics.
“I had no idea that we would receive such overwhelming and honest feedback,” says David Rai, Sparta Global CEO. “With the UK Government reporting that we could face a shortage of 900,000 skilled IT workers by next year, an empowered neurodiverse community presents perspectives and skills that could be transformative.
“Despite this, I was shocked to see how few businesses have practically adapted their hiring strategies to support neurodiverse applicants.”
83% of neurodivergent workers reported feeling worried, nervous, and fearful about having conversations with their employer regarding their neurodiversity. Crucially, 59% of respondents feel that there isn’t enough support in their organisations and fear that disclosing their neurodiversity may negatively impact their future within their companies.
A rising demographic
Neurodivergent employees are a demographic in evolution. Of those surveyed who identified as neurodivergent, only 26% were diagnosed during childhood, while 31% were diagnosed as adults. A further 15% said they are currently undergoing a diagnosis, while 28% plan to seek an assessment.
David adds: “I hope employers, educators, and those outside of our established network can glean as much insight, knowledge, and practical advice from this report as I have.”
In addition to delivering key insights across neurodiversity and technology, the EqualTech report also features contributions from Admiral, Schroders, Gallagher, ADHD Girls and more.
You can see the full EqualTech report here.