Highest level of bias against ADHD/ADD and Tourette’s Syndrome

The research into neurodiversity in the workplace found that half of leaders and managers would be uncomfortable employing or line managing someone who is neurodivergent.

30 per cent of those who responded said they would be uncomfortable employing people who have Tourette’s Syndrome or ADHD/ADD, 20 per cent said they would be uncomfortable hiring autistics or dyscalculics and 10 per cent revealed they would not be comfortable employing dyslexics.

Suzanne Dobson, CEO Tourette’s Action said: “When we are trying to restart our economy we cannot afford to marginalise so many creative and intelligent people. People living with Tourette Syndrome are especially marginalised as people mistakenly believe everyone with TS has the swearing tic, coprolalia, whereas only 10-15% do. And yet, those making recruitment decisions sift people with TS out very quickly, swiftly followed by other neurodivergents.”

Managers and leaders in the construction, engineering and manufacturing sectors had the most significant concerns, with 32 per cent saying they would be uncomfortable hiring autistics and 29 per cent not being comfortable to hire dyscalculics.

Organisations aren’t doing enough to create more inclusive workplaces for neurodivergents

The findings of the research also revealed that neurodivergents feel their workplaces aren’t doing enough to ensure their colleagues behave inclusively towards them.

Over half of autistics (60 per cent), dyspraxics (55 per cent) and dyscalculics (53 per cent) reported that people in their workplace behave in a way that excludes neurodivergent colleagues. But this feeling is not entirely shared by their neurotypical colleagues, with only 29 per cent agreeing this is the case.

More encouragingly, 63 per cent of neurotypical respondents believe they have a high level of knowledge and awareness into neurodivergent conditions, particularly in relation to dyslexia and autism.

Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards at The Institute of Leadership & Management, said: “There are acknowledged benefits that neurominorities bring to our businesses, so we are calling for greater inclusivity for neurodivergent people in the workplace - or their valuable, diverse contributions will be lost.”

She continued: “It’s apparent that while there’s a perceived level of understanding of neurodivergents and their requirements in organisations there is actually a gulf between the lived experience of neurodivergents and the perceptions of those experiences held by neurotypical people.”

Kieran Rose, Managing Director Infinite Autism said: “Recognising the unique lived experiences of neurodivergent people is fundamental to identifying and understanding the issues neurodivergents face in the workplace. This research is key to empowering neurodivergent workers and creating safe, equitable and accessible environments where their potential can be unlocked.”

There is an absence of neurodiversity in diversity and inclusion, and bullying and harassment policies and procedures, and very little training available on neurodiversity inclusion.

The research also identified a lack of neurodiversity in organisations’ diversity and inclusion policies, and in their bullying and harassment policies and procedures. Only 27 per cent could say they were certain that appropriate references were included in their diversity and inclusion policies. This was particularly noticeable from respondents in the third sector – which has the greatest number of neurodivergent staff – with only 20 per cent confirming appropriate references were made in either their diversity and inclusion or bullying and harassment policies.

Kate added: “Although our findings show there are varying levels of inclusion in different sectors, there is a serious absence of references to neurodiversity in official policies and procedures across the board. Given one in seven people are estimated to be neurodivergent, we ask that leaders consider how this is impacting talent acquisition and employee retention”.

“We recommend business leaders look into providing more unconscious bias and inclusion training for all staff, along with ensuring managers are fully aware the range of reasonable adjustments that can be made to support neurodivergent staff. We’d also recommend organisations review their policies and procedures on inclusion, bullying and harassment to ensure they include provisions for their neurodivergent colleagues. A fully inclusive workforce is not only likely to be more innovative and productive but also more compassionate, an environment that is good for all employees.”

You can find the full research reports here:

Workplace neurodiversity: the power of difference. Part 1: lived experiences of neurodivergents

Workplace neurodiversity: the power of difference. Part 2: perceptions about neurodivergents


Notes to editors:

The Institute of Leadership & Management surveyed 1,156 people (959 neurotypical and 197 neurodivergent respondents) in an online survey.

For more details or requests for interview, please contact Pippa Hanson / Luke Aldridge at Camargue: [email protected] / [email protected] or 01242 577277.  You can download a press pack about The Institute here.

The Institute of Leadership & Management is a world-renowned specialist membership body, with an active community of more than 40,000 leaders and managers, that helps individuals and organisations with their leadership development. The organisation works with first-time managers up to members of senior leadership teams, to help them become better leaders

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