Building a neurodiverse high-tech workforce

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3 May 2019

Research on neurodiversity in the IT workforce, conducted as part of the IDEA Hub at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), has just been published. The paper reports that high-tech firms need to take advantage of the talents of a growing neurodiverse workforce—including workers on the autism spectrum, and those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyspraxia, dyslexia, and other conditions—in order to support neurodiversity and foster a more inclusive work culture.

The article, “Building a neurodiverse high-tech workforce,” published in MIS Quarterly Executive, says that high-tech companies may increase their success by recognizing and acknowledging neurodiversity—variations in neurological structure and function—as an aspect of diversity in the workforce, and encourages businesses to make their cultures more inclusive to neurodiverse employees.

Overall, Eleanor Loiacono, professor in the Foisie Business School and director of the IDEA Hub at WPI, and Huimin Ren, a Data Science PhD student, focus on five arguments to encourage high-tech companies to invest in a neurodiverse workforce:

  • Neurodiverse employees often have specialized skillsets not always found in neurotypical or “normal” employees, such as excellent concentration, logic, and visual thought;
  • A workforce with diverse perspectives can help companies create products for a varied consumer base;
  • A growing demographic of neurodiverse people allows companies to be attuned to workforce trends;
  • Neurodiverse workers think and problem solve in different ways, which can lead to greater innovation;
  • Companies that proactively employ neurodiverse people may avoid the need for external agencies to impose quotas.

To get more details on the research, please contact Eleanor Loiacono.