Diversity & InclusionEmployee ExperienceNews Ticker

Neurodivergent Employees Experience Workplace Discrimination

Research findings from CIPD and Uptimize indicate that only half of employees feel their organisation or team has an open and supportive culture where workers feel safe to talk about neurodiversity.

By Maggie Mancini

One in five neurodivergent employees surveyed have experienced harassment or discrimination at work because of their neurodivergence, according to research from CIPD, working with corporate neuroinclusion training specialists Uptimize.  

Neurodiversity refers to natural differences in human brain function and behavioural traits. It’s estimated that as many as 20% of people may be neurodivergent in some way, an umbrella term that can include those with autism, dyslexia, or ADHD. However, despite this potential figure, support and awareness of neurodiversity is lacking in many U.K. workplaces.  

The report, Neuroinclusion at work, surveyed over 1,000 employed adults about their working life, of which 790 identify as neurodivergent. It finds that only half of neurodivergent employees feel that their organisation (52%) or team (54%) has an open and supportive climate where workers feel safe to talk about neurodiversity.  

In response, CIPD and Uptimize are calling on employers to raise awareness of the value of neurodiversity and build open and supportive cultures at work.  

The research shows three in 10 (31%) neurodivergent employees surveyed haven’t told their line manager or HR about their neurodivergence. While 44% of this group say it’s a private matter that they don’t want to share, over one-third (37%) say they are concerned about people making assumptions based on stereotypes. One-third (34%) say they feel there’s too much stigma, 29% say they are concerned about the possible impact on their career, and almost one-fifth (18%) say they don’t think their organisation would be understanding or offer support.  

“Neurodiversity needs to be a key focus in an organisation’s equality, diversity, and inclusion network,” says Dr. Jill Miller, senior equality, diversity, and inclusion policy adviser at CIPD. “The design of workplaces and people management approaches haven’t traditionally considered neurodiversity, meaning many employees may not be able to perform at their best. Action is needed to create neuroinclusive organisations and fairer workplaces, with equality of opportunity for neurodivergent employees, free from harassment and discrimination.”  

Additional key findings from the survey are below.  

  • Only 37% of neurodivergent employees feel their organisation provides meaningful support to neurodivergent individuals.  
  • One-third (33%) say their experience at work has had a negative impact on their mental well-being.  
  • Neurodivergent employees are more likely to always or often feel exhausted (45% versus 30%), feel under excessive pressure (35% versus 29%), and be lonelier at work (23% versus 17%) than neurotypical employees.  

CIPD and Uptimize have set guiding principles for employers in the report, which include the following.  

  • Focus on creating an open and supportive culture where people feel comfortable talking about neurodiversity.  
  • Understand what individual employees need to perform their best at work and ensure clear access to reasonable adjustments.  
  • Embrace flexible working, both in working hours and where employees work.  
Tags: Diversity & Inclusion, Employee Experience, News Ticker

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