The truth is, there is no perfect solution. However, there does exist a category of solutions that has already emerged naturally from trial and error.
Arguably one of the most successful neurodivergent hiring programs to date has been Microsoft’s “Neurodiversity @ Work”. From the ground up, Microsoft built a program centered around the neurodivergent candidate, including an adjusted hiring process, special facilities, and job training, as well as dedicated mentors and coaches.
While many companies have tried to implement neurodiversity programs, Microsoft is one of only a few that have actually succeeded. And it was in programs like Microsoft’s where the phenomenal results of neurodivergent workers were observed, including 140% increases in productivity and 90%+ retention rates.
Despite how much Microsoft is doing right, they have still yet to fully leverage the true power of a neurodivergent workforce. The truth is, a company like Microsoft is not positioned to implement the best solution. This is because the optimal solution is a company built from the ground up around the individual abilities of neurodivergent individuals. Companies like Manny’s (from the “first person” article) will always be better at leveraging neurodivergent talent than a company like Microsoft.
Neurability Technologies is unique in its approach to leveraging neurodivergent talent. The critical difference between a purpose-built company like Neurabiltiy and Microsoft’s Neurodiversity @ Work program is their mission statements. While Microsoft seeks to be successful in hiring and retaining neurodivergent individuals, Neurability seeks to unleash their full potential.
While Microsoft strives only for Minimum Viable Metrics (aka results where the benefits only outweigh the costs), Neurability Technologies seeks to do all it can to maximize the outcomes of a neurodivergent workforce. The reality is that at a large company like Microsoft, the people making final decisions stand to gain very little from reworking their entire company to optimize a 200-engineer-large program that has already proven “successful” by their metrics. Because of this reality, companies like Neurabiltiy are primed to see results that far exceed others’.
The Double Empathy Problem
With that in mind, the most glaring shortcoming of Microsoft’s Neurodiversity program is how it attempts to integrate neurodivergent workers into neurotypical teams. The reality is most neurodivergents work better with other neurodivergents, and most neurotypicals work better with other neurotypicals. This is called the double empathy problem. This so-called ‘problem’ stems from an observable, repeatable observation of spontaneous behavior - not by any personal choices, prejudices or conscious biases of the people involved.
The Double Empathy problem is also at the root of one of the biggest misconceptions about neurodivergents: they are poor communicators. For the most part, this is blatantly false. The truth is neurodivergent people are bad at communicating with neurotypical people, and neurotypical people are equally bad at communicating with neurodivergent people.
Part of the underlying reality is that the neurodivergent brain processes information differently, so conversation flows easily between neurodivergents, but much is “lost in translation” with a neurotypical. Many neurotypicals form this misconception from their own personal experiences of conversations with neurodivergents without realizing that the problem lies not in the individuals but in the fundamentally misaligned pairing of people.
Because of the Double Empathy Problem, there will always be a communication barrier between neurodivergents and neurotypicals, which will slow down progress and create confusion. For this reason, a team composed of only neurodivergent individuals will perform better than a blended team - provided they’re managed in a compatible manner.
Stigma And Bias
Furthermore, the problem of stigma and subconscious bias will always plague mixed workforces no matter how much sensitivity training they receive. The permeation of bias around the neurodivergent individual is an endemic challenge no one company can solve or avoid.
This is not to say that we should accept this reality, but rather that integrating neurodivergents and neurotypicals will inevitably result in challenges due to unavoidable bias and stigma. Therefore, a company like Neurability, which seeks to optimize for neurodivergent performance, can construct teams to completely side-step any problems arising from potential bias or stigma.
Building From the Ground Up
The final reason companies like Microsoft can’t achieve results of the same order as those of Neurability Technologies is, remarkably, that they already have a successful neurodivergent hiring program.
No such program can fully unleash the talent of neurodivergent employees because they have been built built as extensions of their existing operations, not from the ground up. They have too much internal inertia and reliance on systems built for the neurotypical.
However small, there will always be friction between the ingrained systems designed for the neurotypical and the abilities and needs of the neurodivergent. This is why a purpose-built company like Neurability will always be more efficient and less complex than a large company that attempts to implement various accommodations and assorted efforts to integrate discordant systems.
So what is Neurability?
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Microsoft makes software (and a whole lot else), but what does Neurability Technologies even do?” Here lies the final advantage of Neurability Technologies over any established company. Other companies already have a dedicated purpose, whether that be designing computers, managing wealth, or building skyscrapers. But Neurability Technologies doesn’t do any of these things (or at least not yet). Neurability Technologies, in line with its mission of maximizing the benefits of a neurodivergent workforce, operates as a workforce-s-a-service (WaaS) provider and a consulting service.
Neurability Technologies’ role as a “WaaS”-type business enables companies to obtain all the benefits of a neurodivergent workforce without the challenge of developing an in-house program. Neurability sees a future where instead of many companies all having small and semi-successful neurodiversity programs, Neurability runs one large, very successful program, contracting out its services to a large number of industries. Because of the high fixed costs of reinventing the systems of modern work for the neurodivergent, specialization makes economic sense.
Because Neurability has no central mission to build software or whatnot, when it hires neurodivergent employees, Neurability can dedicate those employees to what they do best, cutting out or supporting by design all the parts of the job that they would normally struggle with. So while all Microsoft software engineers might have to explain technical issues to non-technical stakeholders or break down more complex problems into smaller components, Neurability Technologies’ free-flowing nature allows it to build around the abilities of individual employees, further optimizing results.
Neurability Now And Into The Future
Currently, Neurability Technologies believes software and IT services to be the most immediately promising space for neurodivergent talent. That said, we also believe that to be a springboard, and hope to eventually excel in every space where there is neurodivergent talent.
Contact us to become part of this present, and build a better future together.