Neurodiversity: Talent Innovation and Inclusion Excellence By Brian L. Hughes

Last month, on Sunday, July 18, 2021, CBS 60 Minutes program, Correspondent Anderson Cooper reported that many adults with autism have a hard time finding a job, but more companies are discovering the unique skills and potential people with autism offer.  The program featured five adults on the autism spectrum who agreed to talk with 60 Minutes about their struggles finding work.

Statistics per National Autism Indicators Report by Drexel University:

  • Fewer than one in six autistic adults is in full-time employment
  • Less than 16% of survey participants have full-time paid work. This figure has hardly changed since 2007
  • 51% of autistic people in work said their skills were higher than those their job required
  • Only 32% are in some kind of paid work. More than three-quarters (77%) who are unemployed say they want to work

Many companies, from large corporations to small businesses, have developed successful neurodiversity hiring initiatives that are helping to improve their bottom lines and increase the employment rates of people with disabilities. Employers often form partnerships with nonprofit organizations; disability-focused groups; and/or state and local agencies to ensure their hiring initiatives are successful.

Defining Neurodiversity

In its simplest definition, neurodiversity is the concept that when it comes to the human brain and nervous system, people don’t all end up the same. In other words, it’s a concept that describes individuality and uniqueness in cognitive functioning. Beyond that, neurodiversity is also a growing strategic talent management and workplace diversity and inclusion initiative.

Benefits of Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Neurodiversity is an aspect of diversity that enhances the workplace in numerous ways. People with neurocognitive disabilities have talents, perspectives, and skills that can be distinctly beneficial in many work environments. More and more employers are beginning to understand these benefits and develop hiring initiatives that focus on recruiting neurodiverse workers. While these efforts are more common in larger corporations, they have proven beneficial for businesses of all sizes in a variety of industries.

Hiring neurodiverse employees can provide companies with a competitive edge that brings measurable benefits, both financially and in terms of workplace culture. To learn more about best practices for designing and implementing a successful and scalable program to recruit, hire, retain and advance neurodivergent employees, read EARN’s Neurodiversity Inclusion: Checklist for Organizational Success.

Neurodiversity Excellence and Talent Innovation at Ernst & Young, EY

CBS 60 Minutes described several organizations maximizing their human resources by enabling their most highly skilled workers to focus on the highest value activities. Neurodiverse individuals are often technologically inclined and detail-oriented, with strong skills in analytics, mathematics, pattern recognition, and information processing — among the very skills businesses most urgently need.

One of the companies and inspirational leaders highlighted was Ernst & Young, EY, and Hiren Shukla, Automation & Innovation / Neuro-Diverse Center of Excellence (NCoE) Leader at EY. EY US created the NCoE model after recognizing a need to drive growth for businesses by accessing the tremendous untapped talent of neurodivergent individuals.

The contributions of NCoE professionals help to enhance workforce ability and support EY clients in accelerating technology processes and solutions while meeting the changing demands for jobs, tasks, and skills – such as intelligent automation, blockchain, cybersecurity, cloud optimization, true data science, and analytics.  In April 2021 EY US opened its latest Neuro-Diverse Center of Excellence to drive growth and innovation by tapping into Boston’s diverse workforce.


The INCLUSIVE ENTERPRISE Podcast episode  “Neurodiversity: Driving Innovation from Unexpected Places with Hiren Shukla”

My Co-host Charlotte Hughes and I welcome Hiren Shukla as our interview guest for the episode, Neurodiversity: Driving Innovation from Unexpected Places airing on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021 as we discuss:

  • The EY NCoE Pilot in 2016
  • The expansion of NCoEs to seven and growing
  • The impact on innovation by neurodivergent talent
  • The impact on organizational development and corporate culture
  • Hiren’s recommendations to companies considering neurodiversity initiatives

Listen and be inspired by The INCLUSIVE ENTERPRISE Podcast Episode 6: Neurodiversity: Driving Innovation from Unexpected Places with Hiren Shukla – Ernst and Young – EY



For more information about Neurodiversity in the workplace, please see our e-guide in the thought leadership section of our site.

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