Professional services giant EY has selected Manchester as the site for its first UK-based Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence (NCoE), opening up its UK talent pipeline to more people with cognitive differences.
Putting Manchester on the map
The Manchester NCoE will open this month with a team of six technologists, including individuals with cognitive differences such as dyslexia, ADHD, and autism.
The Centre is designed to create a “supportive working environment” for talent with neurodiverse conditions. It will help them harness their strengths to meet clients’ needs in emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, data analytics, automation, blockchain and cyber.
The cohort will join EY UK client teams across Northern England, working in consulting, intelligent automation, data analytics, cybersecurity, assurance, tax and more. While the first recruitment phase is over, there are plans to hire up to 100 neurodivergent individuals in the city over the next three years.
Manchester was chosen as the first NCoE UK site due to the “quality of local tech talent and the level of community engagement in the North of England,” which is a boon for the region as the UK Government faces pressure to provide better infrastructure and economic opportunities beyond London.
EY opened its first NCoE in Philadelphia in 2016 and now has multiple sites in the US. They also have a presence in Canada, India, Poland and Spain. Further expansions are planned in Europe, South America and the Asia Pacific region.
Other inclusive neurodiverse policies
While EY already works to open up the recruitment process and working environment to neurodivergent employees, the establishment of the NCoEs will escalate their efforts to make the company inclusive.
Following EY’s US model, the UK arm has customised its hiring, training, and onboarding process by shifting from a behaviour-based interview process to a performance-based one, hiring and training talent in small groups, and offering orientations before candidates start roles to help them familiarise themselves with the workplace.
Stephen Church, Manchester Office Managing Partner and North Markets Leader, said: “I couldn’t be prouder that EY has selected Manchester and the North of England to locate the NCoE, recognising the innovative spirit in the city and the strength of the community we have locally. We have joined cities around the globe that are opening up the world of work to neurodiverse individuals whilst offering local businesses largely untapped talent to help fuel their growth in ways they haven’t imagined before.”
Catriona Campbell, EY’s Client Technology & Innovation Officer, UK&I, who will lead the UK Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence, said: “I’m very proud to be leading EY’s UK Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence and welcoming a team of super talented professionals. I have already received messages of great support from our people at EY and in the market, many of whom know how such an initiative can change lives. We hope to emulate the success of our US NCoE’s, which have inspired an ecosystem of organisations that share our purpose in Manchester and the North of England.”
Alison Kay, EY’s Managing Partner for Client Service in the UK & Ireland, said: “Just 22% of autistic adults are in any kind of employment in the UK. Yet, neurodivergent individuals are typically highly proficient in some of the ‘in-demand’ skills right now and in the future. EY’s UK Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence will help harness some of these skills, boosting innovation for our clients and our own business.
“Over the last two years, we have seen more than ever the importance of purpose in business and the role that employers can make in helping to drive social change. We want to create a highly supportive working environment for all of our people, and I hope our UK NCoE will encourage others to lead with purpose and challenge their talent strategy to help transform the employment prospects of neurodivergent individuals.”