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Empowering Neurodiverse Talent: The Importance of Inclusivity in Learning and Development

How can workplaces empower their neurodiverse talent? This HR digital summit answered that question and emphasised the importance of inclusivity in L&D.
Natalie McDonnell, Marketing Manager

Presented by Go1, this HR digital summit sessions focused on empowering neurodiverse talent and the importance of inclusivity in Learning and Development (L&D) spaces. Featured guests on the panel included Louis Chesney, Neurodiversity Product Manager at RethinkCare, Mandy Rutherford, L&D Manager Wave Utilities, and Nick Ramsay, Enterprise Account Executive at Go1.  

Kicking off the discussion, host Kieran Howells, head of content at HR Grapevine, asked the panel the key benefits behind instilling an inclusive learning culture whilst the audience considered how inclusive their own organisations currently were.  

The panel summarised neurodiversity in the workplace as an opportunity to harness people’s differences in order to make impactful business changes. A neurodiverse workforce offers a variation of perspectives and, in tandem, multiple solutions to a potential business problem. Louis expanded on this, noting that the larger gaps between a neurodiverse individual's strengths and challenges should be considered early on in the hiring process, as this allows organisations to better tailor their interviewing, onboarding, and training strategies to the specific needs of individuals. 

Historically, content education and traditional learning conditions haven’t catered for people's neurodiverse needs and although the pandemic accelerated more flexibility in learning, Mandy highlighted that neurodiversity is very much still a developing space. The poll results echoed this, revealing that 66% of the audience rated their organisation as “somewhat inclusive”.  

So what are some of the challenges that organisations still face? The panel identified psychological safety and learning stigmas as the key barriers restricting the learning journey of neurodiverse individuals. However, Louis expressed that such challenges can be mitigated through the cultivating of a safe learning environment that avoids jargon terms, and encourages both mistakes and open communication, and provides opportunities for individuals to showcase their knowledge and enhance their skills in diverse ways. Mandy then highlighted the critical role that managers play in building this inclusive environment, suggesting that leaders need to be provided with the resources they need to support neurodiverse employees.  

Nick was in agreement, flagging that such inclusivity is crucial in order to avoid cases of discrimination against neurodiverse individuals.  

Next, the panel considered how new emerging technologies can be utilised to develop inclusive L&D strategies, through identifying current and future skill gaps. Louis shed insight on how improved data systems can match individuals to the relevant learning content, subsequently benefiting the individuals career trajectory, as well as aligning with overall business objectives. 

Rounding off the discussion, the panel answered an array of questions from the audience, including concerns around current economic struggles and how reduced budgets can affect the availability of neurodiverse resources.  

The panel presented solutions such as offering micro-learning sessions that are scalable and can be disseminated across the entire workforce. Additionally, companies should recognise their existing neurodiverse talent who can champion such inclusive learning initiatives internally.  

The panel concurred that it’s vital that learning is built into existing everyday practices, acknowledging that an individual's time is a valuable resource. Nick concludes that wherever possible, learning should be personalised, digestible and have clear signposting to further development opportunities. A true learning culture, Mandy added, is one where everyone is considered on the journey. 

Check out the full recording below.

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