Hiring the neurodiverse

Businesses in need of tech talent have overlooked a fifth of humanity

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the ESG issue of Workflow Quarterly.

The statistics are eyebrow raising. One in five people is neurodiverse—an umbrella term that describes people with autism, dyslexia, ADHD, and other cognitive differences—and 85% of those in that cohort is either unemployed or underemployed. Yet, many neurodiverse people have the skills needed for advanced work in several industries, including IT and other technological fields.

85%

Percentage of neurodiverse individuals who are unemployed or underemployed

At the same time, organizations worldwide are struggling to address a massive shortage of IT talent. In 2016, EY created its Neuro-Diverse Center of Excellence to connect neurodiverse technologists with companies that need their skills, including ServiceNow.

Participants receive managerial support and training in soft workplace skills while working a full-time job as an EY technologist. The program recruits neurodiverse individuals with skills in AI and automation, cybersecurity and cloud infrastructure, blockchain, or data science. “As we looked at the workforce of the future, we realized that every industry, sector, business function, or job will be impacted by these four technologies,” says program director Hiren Shukla.

EY is just one of a growing number of firms focusing its attention on hiring from this previously overlooked group. The Neurodiversity @ Work Employer Roundtable, established in 2017, includes a broad range of companies that have established programs to recruit and train neurodiverse talent.