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Neurodiversity-friendly graduate employers and how to find them

If you are interested in finding companies that are particularly supportive of autistic and other neurodivergent employees, our case studies are a good starting point.

Check whether the organisation is signed up to the Disability Confident scheme.

Some employers are raising awareness of the benefits of neurodiversity to the workplace and have created initiatives to recruit, and retain, neurodivergent workers. Deutsche Bank, GCHQ and J.P. Morgan share with us some of the support, adjustments and initiatives they provide for employees with conditions including (but not limited to) autism, Asperger Syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and Tourette Syndrome.

Deutsche Bank

Koral Anderson and Alex Wilson, managing directors at Deutsche Bank, tell TARGETjobs about the bank’s internship programme for autistic graduates:

‘In 2016, Deutsche Bank launched a UK autism internship programme and this year will be our fourth year of running the programme. To date we’ve hosted 24 interns to gain work experience, build their confidence and prepare themselves for full-time opportunities. All interns have completed the programme and approximately 85% have secured ongoing employment, either with Deutsche Bank or another company. Their performance has been impressive. In 2018, all 11 participants were hired.

After the pilot internship, its benefits, for both the bank and the interns, were assessed by UCL’s Centre for Research in Autism and Education, in collaboration with Autistica. We took the feedback in this report seriously and have continued to refine the programme to improve experiences for all involved. In addition to running the programme in London, during 2019 we also launched a programme with a similar format in New York.

Deutsche Bank is committed to being an inclusive employer and ranks within the top 100 most inclusive companies (Thomson Reuters D&I Index).’

GCHQ

A GCHQ spokesperson tells TARGETjobs:

‘Some of our most talented and creative people have a neurodiverse profile – from people with autism spectrum conditions to dyslexia, and from dyscalculia and dyspraxia. Our apprentices, for example, are three to four times more likely to have dyslexia than the national average. For the last 20 years we have had a specialised neurodiversity support service, with specialist neurodiversity advisers, who offer awareness sessions for managers, as well as training so that managers can help staff with any adjustments they need to reach their full potential. The service is there to provide those staff with neurodiverse conditions the support they might need in the workplace. It aims not just to overcome problems, but also to enable people with these conditions to work to their best ability.

Examples of adjustments to the interview process we have made include:

  • Allowing the bringing of notes and mind maps into interviews
  • Having extra time to compensate for slower processing speed
  • Ensuring candidates aren’t being asked multiple questions at the same time
  • Using a whiteboard or flipchart to ‘car park’ questions to return to later.

Typical workplace adjustments we have made include:

  • Mind-mapping software
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • Voice to text/text to voice software
  • Onscreen reading rulers
  • Offering different ways of working, such as changes in working patterns.

The progress made in making GCHQ accessible has been recognised through external accreditation such as Disability Confident, where GCHQ has attained Leader [the highest] status, and the Dyslexia Smart Award from the British Dyslexia Association.'

J. P. Morgan and JPMorgan Chase

Paula Humphry, EMEA campus recruiting diversity lead at J.P. Morgan, and Lee Corless, Autism at Work programme lead UK & EMEA at JPMorgan Chase, tell TARGETjobs:

‘The support we offer to our employees is focused on the individual rather than the condition. Everyone is impacted differently, so the approach taken needs to be tailored on a case-by-case basis. We use the expertise of our healthcare advisers who, in consultation with the individual, may make recommendations to managers about adjustments that they can consider; managers can then work with the individual to set in place the most appropriate support. As a company, we want every individual to be able to give their best, so understanding them and creating a supportive and open environment in which everyone feels valued is really important. Our training supports this culture.

One of our initiatives is the Autism at Work programme, which aims to hire, retain and support qualified individuals with an autism spectrum condition (ASC) into meaningful roles across the firm. We have developed awareness training for managers and colleagues, delivered both through classroom and online modules, which covers all the various steps of hiring and retaining employees on the spectrum: from writing the appropriate job specification through to the interviewing process through to offering appropriate development opportunities.

Our awareness training has led to a rise in colleagues stepping forward and seeking support, enabling many to thrive in their roles and progress through the organisation.’

Identifying employers that treat neurodivergence positively

If you are seeking out an employer that is particularly positive about neurodiversity, there are various places you can look for clues. One sign to look for is whether the organisation is signed up to the Disability Confident scheme. Your careers service should have knowledge of schemes and attitudes of employers. Relevant charities may be able to point you in the direction of recommended employers, too.

Remember that even before you apply it is perfectly acceptable to contact representatives from the organisation about the support on offer for non-neurotypical employees, in whichever way you feel most comfortable (this does not have to involve disclosing your condition to the employer). ‘We would recommend that individuals get to know companies on a personal basis as much as possible – whether that involves attending events or seeking out reviews of individual employee experiences online,’ say Paula and Lee from J.P. Morgan and JPMorgan Chase.

When job hunting, Paula and Lee urge you to keep an open mind: ‘Don’t assume that you know what a company wants just from reading the job description,’ they say. ‘Candidates often think that we are looking for a very specific type or background and self-select out (that is, not apply) because they don’t think they match exactly. But to deliver value to our customers, we need to constantly come up with new and different ways of approaching problems – and by having a neurodiverse group of employees we are able to think about things in numerous ways and get a number of different perspectives. So, focus on the skills and unique perspectives you can bring.’

Article created January 2020.

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