Article & Observations About Diverse Teams Working Better Together
“Inclusion” is a topic widely discussed in 2019. Most of the time when we think and talk about inclusion, the focus is drawn to factors of diversity such as race, gender and sexual orientation.
Here at Iterators, we include neurodiversity high on the list of differences built into inclusion.
Neurodiversity: another difference to keep in mind
The term “neurodiversity” was coined by Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist, in the mid-90s. She wrote in her honors thesis that differences in neurology should be recognized and respected as a social category, similar to ethnicity, socioeconomic class or physical disability.
Harvey Blume further popularized the word in his 1998 piece in The Atlantic: “Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general.
Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment? Cybernetics and computer culture, for example, may favor a somewhat autistic cast of mind.”
What year is it?
It’s amazing, really, to think that it took until nearly the end of the twentieth century for our culture to begin to view the spectrum of differences in our neurology as important and valid variations that require just as much acknowledgement and respect as the many other factors of diversity.
The level of tolerance we have as a nation is linked tightly to hiring bias. When companies are hiring, if they’re “woke” enough, will pay close attention to the diversity of the workplace. According to national industry medians, companies that are ethnically diverse perform 35% higher than less diverse workplaces. Gender diversity helps boost performance 15%. Again, though, most of the time the only differences taken into consideration are race and gender. Neurodiversity often falls to the wayside.
McKinsey explains the somewhat depressing reality:
The United Kingdom does comparatively better in racial diversity, albeit at a low level: some 78 percent of UK companies have senior-leadership teams that fail to reflect the demographic composition of the country’s labor force and population, compared with 91 percent for Brazil and 97 percent for the United States.
We’ve got a lot of work to do.
So, as a whole we have focused on increasing numbers and boosting inclusivity in many ways. But, in terms of recognizing the abilities of neurodiverse individuals, most of whom are unemployed due to hiring biases, we have some catching up to do as a society.
Jill Willcox began her career in the nursing field, which included work as a liaison between insurance companies and people who sustained life-changing injuries at work. Over time, Jill began to work as a program director for the Crown Center for Autism at Evanston Hospital, which was a grant-funded project producing best practices in the diagnosis of patients suspected to be on the autism spectrum. She also worked as a benefits consultant for Hewitt Associates LLC. Throughout each of these professional experiences, Jill has supported others – patients, co-workers, clients and now Iterators’ employees.
diversity in the workplace goes beyond gender and race, workplace diversity
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Iterators LLC is a women-owned business, certified through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) that has an emphasis on social impact.