April 27, 2023 in , ,
By Summer Sconyers and Jamal Cottman

Neurodivergent individuals are unemployed at a disproportionately high rate; one that is three times higher than the rate for those with other disabilities, and eight times higher than the rate for people who do not have a disability. Considering at least one-fifth of the world’s population identifies as neurodivergent, this demonstrates a significant disparity in modern organizations’ efforts to attract, hire, and retain talent from the neurodivergent population.

But did you know that increasing the neurodiversity of your organization increases competitive advantage? With the recent boom in research on DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility) practices in our Zoom-dominated world, evidence consistently verifies organizations that actively embrace these differences and exercise inclusive practices (e.g., emotional inclusion) reap several rewards, including but not limited to: higher productivity, work quality improvement, greater innovation, increased employee engagement, and improved efficacy in solving complex problems.

Still, many organizations lack the awareness and/or training needed to create an environment that is inclusive, fair, equitable, accessible, and perceived as psychologically safe to neurodiverse staff. Organizations and leaders must understand that providing reasonable accommodations to employees is only half the battle – there remains a critical need to proactively destigmatize neurodivergence in our cultures and rethink the common hiring, onboarding, training, and development processes to ensure they are exercising truly inclusive, fair, and accessible practices. Part two of our interview with Kim Nuss continues this conversation.

What inspired you to create the Divergent Works Community?

Kim: I was not diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) until I was 32 years old. Growing up and becoming an adult, I never really sought an expert and didn’t really know what that was called. At a SIOP conference during COVID, I was looking through the topics and saw one about “Neurodiversity,” which I hadn’t heard of until then! Once I started reading more about it, I realized, “Oh wait, that’s me!” From there, I went down a rabbit hole on the subject. I have learned there are some great organizations that work to support neurodivergent people and that there is a plethora of information being shared all over the world where people share their stories. (e.g., case studies, TikToks, news articles, websites, people at conferences). I was so fascinated and started collecting Google alerts of what information was out there, and I started seeing differences and comparing information globally. There is too much information out there for any one neurodivergent person to be aware of, but I recognized a need to find a way to talk about it all in one easily accessible platform! I decided to create this community because I was inspired to let one person share a story on each podcast, then correlate that to other research perspectives and present what I have gathered to try and bring it all together in one spot. The goal is not to provide one perspective or solution, but for listeners to be able to find the solutions for themselves in the stories we share across the vastness of the neurodivergent population.

How does your podcast add to the conversation?

Kim: My goal was to create a safe space to start conversations using the stories of neurodivergent people. These conversations invite neurotypicals to learn more about this community and see life through their lens. By having these open conversations, we want neurodivergent and neurotypical people to have conversations and teach empathy from both ends. While I do not have all the answers, I hope that the stories that are shared on the podcast bring empathy, compassion, support, and understanding to other neurodivergent individuals and neurotypical allies.

Even for those who say or believe they are neurotypical, we must understand that we all have a mind that is different, and we have to understand how to work with those minds differently in situations. Consider the scenario of a neurodivergent woman, who was late-diagnosed [with ADHD] and is used to taking care of kids who have neurodiversities she recognized before her own. She might compare herself socially and think, “Well I’m not that bad – I’ve lived and coped my whole life with ADHD and there are five other people at work who I think may be ‘worse’ than me so I shouldn’t complain.” If we are overcoming that kind of resistance, then we are accomplishing something great.  I hope the people coming into the Community are those that can embrace this environment, engage in the complexities of this kind of conversation, and validate the varieties of experience people live and work with. I’m looking for the everyday individuals with stories to share, not just the experts.

Resources to Learn More:

For more information on Neurodiversity and the topics discussed, check out these resources:

Image of Summer Sconyers

Summer Sconyers is a Human Capital Consultant at FMP. She obtained her M.S. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Summer is currently enjoying her work on a variety of strategic initiatives, including employee engagement, change management, and survey development. In her free time, you will find Summer spending time in nature, listening to music, and spoiling her miniature poodle, Dexter.  

Jamal Cottman is a former Human Capital Consultant at FMP and obtained his M.P.S. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from George Mason University. Jamal is from Woodbury, New Jersey and enjoys experiencing culture through food, playing tennis, visiting theme parks, and binge-watching Netflix series.