5 Questions You Need to Answer Before Starting a Neurodiverse Hiring Program


Thinking of setting up a neurodiverse hiring program? Maybe you’re just looking to starting hiring more talent from this pool of people as part of your normal recruitment rhythm.

No matter what your reasoning for beginning, there are a number of key steps that you want to be aware of as you get started.

My intention here is to provide you with an appreciation of these critical stages and the key considerations for you to be aware of at each step. Helping you to break ground in the recruitment of neurodiverse people is what I am so passionate about.

If you’re reading this I’m going to assume that you understand the rationale and value of including neurodiverse talent as part of your hiring mix. So we won’t get into that again, but rather focus on how you can effectively and practically go about ensuring your recruitment approach is effective.

So, what then are the 5 questions you need to be able to answer? As we progress through these questions it will become clear that addressing these areas will enable you to become more inclusive of all diversity.

1. Why do you want to start?

Understanding your drivers and motivations for heading down this path is critical to gaining internal support and buy-in later on.

Being clear on the problem that the program (no matter how formal or informal it becomes or is intended to be) is expected to solve will help with framing the case for change and setting your measures for success.

Does your program intent align with your overall corporate strategy? How does it fit into your corporate culture and values?

Having a position that clearly articulates the connection to corporate strategy and values will provide a rallying point for everyone to converge on and help to make the program a success.

2. Who is able to support the program’s success?

From executive sponsorship, through to operational delivery and execution and even the provision of expert advice and support - you will need a variety of people to play key roles in your program.

You should look to identify your executive sponsor and confirm their level of commitment early on.

Execution will rely on those people who are typically involved in your recruitment process. Bringing your HR, recruitment and any other teams that would normally support the recruitment process into the program will be an important early step.

Equally, having someone on the ground who will be responsible for the team or individuals coming into your business will be a key element of your program. You may find a number of great managers across your business who will be ideal leaders for your program.

Lastly is external supports that might be relevant to assist you. From candidate sourcing to staff training, there will likely be a number of local organisations you could lean on.

3. Where and how do you start?

Consider the roles and business area(s) that would be best suited for your initial hiring efforts. Give some thought to the approach you would like to take to scaling. There are a number of basic formats you could follow, there’s no right or wrong, it’s going to be a matter of what feels most workable for your organisation.

The initial hiring intake size, location and breadth of job roles will be a feed into how you then go about hiring. Many organisations will start with a pilot, comprising a much smaller number of roles to be filled in possibly only one or two areas. It will depend a lot on the size and complexity of your business of course.

4. Is your recruitment process adaptable to an alternative approach?

For many organisations, especially larger ones, recruitment can be a fairly formal and structured process. When assessing job fit for neurodiverse candidates these more traditional processes can often be the reason your candidates are still looking for work.

How will you cater for specific screening processes such as interviews or assessment centres - particularly relevant if you’re looking to hire a number of people in a single tranche - to allow applicants to showcase themselves at their best?

What tools, systems or processes will you use to screen applications? Be mindful that many neurodiverse candidates may have quite atypical resumes which may not ‘screen’ well compared to most other applicants.

Finally, are you prepared for candidate sourcing? Do you have the linkages and connections that you may require to directly solicit applications from your desired candidate pool?

5. Will your performance management framework and career development plans support your neurodiverse staff?

Whilst the fundamental elements of performance management shouldn’t need to change, the way in which you might apply them may need consideration at an individual level.

Keep in mind that the majority of neurodiverse people you hire will have similar career development aspirations as any other employee you take on. Providing the appropriate coaching, training and career development pathways is just as important for your neurodiverse staff.

There is no right or wrong approach to this. Ultimately the critical elements are the organisation's drive for change and alignment of the ‘why’ for that change.

Are you a HR manager, recruiter or diversity & inclusion leader?

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