Neurodiversity and Bridging The Skills Gap

Man Writing at a Table

Diversity has been a business watchword for many years. However, in 2020  many organizations had to take a hard look at how they defined diversity and practiced inclusion and be honest about their progress, even while they expanded their understanding of the term. Inclusion encompasses a wide variety of aspects in the quest to broaden talent pools, including neurodiversity. In a new episode of The Transform Talent Podcast, hosts Roberta Cucchiaro and Dominika Gałusa talk with Kate Griggs, Founder and CEO of Made By Dyslexia, about closing the growing skills gap for Gen-Z, the generation expected to bear the worst impact of workplace shifts due to the pandemic. Here’s why the link between dyslexia and the in-demand soft skills such as creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and emotional intelligence is so important now.

The need to think differently 

As Griggs shared, in an era of automation where facts can be Googled and spelling can be corrected at the touch of the button, it’s creativity, imagination and intuition that sets us apart from machines, and that’s Dyslexic Thinking. Dyslexia is literally a different way of processing information, and with that different way of thinking comes a pattern of strengths; creativity, innovation, and big picture thinking. The latest Future of Jobs Report published by the World Economic Forum highlights how exactly these social and emotional skills are the top in-demand competencies for the next five years. For organizations, understanding and valuing dyslexic thinking and neurodiversity can be an opportunity to bridge the skills gap of the future.

A range of abilities 

As businesses tackle a variety of problems, they need people who have exceptional skills in certain areas. As Griggs explained, that is true of people with dyslexia, who have “spikes” of skills they have highly developed to succeed in the world. In other words, if some with dyslexia excel in the area of a soft skill like public speaking, he or she may double down in practicing that skill in order to be especially high performing in that area. “What dyslexics also tend to do, if they really focus on their strengths, is hone in and become much better at them,” Griggs said. “So, a lot of people refer to them as superpowers, which is a nice way of thinking about it.” 

Value cognitive diversity 

Along with neurodiversity –– different ways of processing thought –– Griggs prefers the term cognitive diversity, or diversity of thought. Teams shouldn’t all think the same way. With the recruitment process, inclusion means screening in rather than screening out with standardized barriers to entry. People with dyslexia may have brilliant ideas that will be filtered out at the first step if assessments aren’t rethought to include diversity, which can be overlooked in traditional reviews of resumes. An example of being inclusive for cognitive diversity comes from the UK Government Communications Headquarters, that has been targeting dyslexic and neurodiverse people in their recruitment strategy as the dyslexic workforce is particularly good at connecting the dots, simplification, seeing the bigger picture as well as work as a team.

The Value of Dyslexia report shows how dyslexic thinking produces creativity that won't be able to be replaced by automation. Inclusion is critical because workforces are more productive when people feel like they can bring their talents to a team and belong –– and produce important results. Hear more on the podcast.   


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