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12 January 2024 - 7 minutes

Neurodiversity in Tech: Embracing Different Perspectives for Innovation

Neurodivergent individuals can bring an incredible amount of talent to the tech industry.

Ironhack - Changing The Future of Tech Education


We’ve talked frequently about the importance of diversity and inclusion in tech: more voices seated at the table means that more perspectives will be included in the final product. And while most people take this to mean racial or gender diversity (which are crucial to creating high-quality products), another group is just as important, yet often left behind: neurodiverse individuals. 

Understanding neurodiversity and what it means in tech is extremely important for the industry; the neurodivergent population is gaining more and more visibility every day and including these voices at the tech table is essential for any company looking to prioritize diversity and inclusion, in addition to providing quality products to an even wider audience. 

In this article, we’ll review what neurodivergence is, the different examples of it that you might encounter, and how to use the skills of neurodivergent tech employees properly, unleashing their full potential.  

What is Neurodiversity?

Before we dive straight into neurodiversity in tech, we need to have a clear understanding of what neurodiversity is. But it’s not quite that simple: neurodiversity includes a wide range of brain function and behavioral traits that influence how a person thinks, acts, and reacts to the world around them. As more and more traits have fallen under the neurodiverse umbrella in recent years, we’ve become increasingly aware of what neurodiversity is and how neurodivergent individuals act–leading us to take steps towards raising awareness and acceptance. 

These differences in how they act and respond to situations are caused by brain differences and it’s important to note that neurodiversity is not a medical term and not an official diagnosis; human beings are so unique and there’s no ‘right’ way for a brain to work. Instead, neurodivergent is the correct way to refer to those whose brains work differently than the general population. 

The neurodivergent umbrella has a large reach and a number of different diagnoses fall under it, including autism, ADHD, dyscalculia, dyslexia, and dyspraxia. 

Neurodiversity as a competitive advantage 

Neurodivergence isn’t something that should be altered or ‘fixed’; the recent movement to accept neurodivergent individuals celebrates their differences and seeks to highlight their strengths to showcase their abilities instead of trying to change them. And there’s a reason for this: neurodivergent individuals have an incredible range of skills that can help a business significantly:

  • Enhanced attention to detail: in tech, many tasks require very high levels of detail and a common characteristic of neurodivergent individuals is that they are very good at small details, which can be a great skill to have in tech.

  • Increased creativity: creativity takes lots of forms and one of those is thinking outside of the box and coming up with new ideas. As neurodivergence leads to unique ways of thinking, your company could benefit from these new ideas and increased innovation. 

  • Better problem-solving: similarly to new creative paths, the different thought processes that neurodivergent individuals have can lead to new solutions for problems that the rest of the team simply hadn’t previously considered.

  • Improved productivity: studies have shown that due to their focused attention to detail and innovative problem solving, neurodivergent employees work more efficiently and with less errors, leading to higher productivity.

For companies, including inclusive practices and policies for neurodivergent employees is beneficial because: 

  • It increases their candidate pool: by ensuring your hiring practices are inclusive and inviting to the neurodivergent candidate pool, you’ll widen the candidates available to you and have even better options to fill your hiring needs.

  • It improves employee retention and loyalty: when you commit to inclusivity at the workplace and provide your employees with the support they need, you’ll benefit from higher levels of retention and loyalty. 

  • It widens their clientele: we’ve said it before and we’ve said it again: the best products are designed with a potential user at the table and by creating products that serve neurodivergent people by neurodivergent people, your clientele will expand.

  • It is inclusive: giving all candidates and employees equal treatment is simply the right thing to do and a crucial part of creating an inclusive workplace. 

Creating an Inclusive Workplace for Neurodivergence 

Making your workplace welcoming and inviting for neurodivergent employees and candidates isn’t as simple as providing them with a job and a desk to sit at; cultivating an inclusive workplace is an effort that will have to be taken seriously throughout the entire company, continuously reviewed, and improved over time. 

Let’s dive right into the basics of neurodivergence and what you should keep in mind when working with neurodivergent individuals, focusing on both the hiring stage and once they’re already employees. 

Choose an individualistic approach 

No one is exactly the same and that is especially the case with neurodivergent people; even two people with ADHD or autism will not act identically and you will need to use an individualistic approach to find what works best for that person. 

  • During the hiring process: enter interviews with an open mind, looking to see how the candidate can shine instead of expecting them to fit into a certain ideal that you may have. Be open to changing things up, such as allowing for in-person interviews with just one person at a time, as indicated by the candidate so that their experience is as accommodating and personalized as possible.  

  • When they’re an employee: after you’ve hired the candidate, start with a blank slate and work together with them to create expectations, goals, and problem areas, allowing them to indicate any support they’ll need on their own. This way, you’re not shoving this candidate into a box and are instead working with them to deliver the best results. 

Take the first steps towards creating an inclusive workplace 

An inclusive workplace certainly won’t pop up overnight and it’s also not something that one diversity meeting can accomplish. By being proactive about inclusive practices, you’ll attract better talent and retain what you already have. 

  • During the hiring process: instead of presenting the candidate with what the interview process will be like and possibly forcing them into uncomfortable situations, open the floor to them and ask if they would like any accommodations or changes so that the process is better for them. In addition, making sure that inclusive practices are present for everyone, not just those who are vocal about their neurodivergence, helps promote equality in the workplace.

  • When they’re an employee: once the employee is a member of team, make sure you provide periodic check-ins to see if there’s any support you can offer or changes that would make their lives easier; needs will almost certainly change over time and check-ins help the employee feel seen and heard without having to reach out for their own needs.

Make accessible and inclusive tools and practices the norm 

Especially in tech, the exact tools everyone uses depend heavily on their preferences; some may prefer to have a standing desk and others a small laptop so they can move around to a new environment. The same goes for accessibility tools that are used in tech, such as special keyboards, text-to-speech tools, and voice assistance; a major part of creating an inclusive workplace is making these tools available to everyone without any questions asked.

  • During the hiring process: when beginning your communications with a candidate, take the chance to provide them with a wide variety of options for their interviews, so that they’re able to pick the modality that works best for them. For example, some people may have trouble concentrating if they’re being interviewed by multiple people at once and immediately providing a space for candidates to communicate their preferences contributes to a much better experience for all involved.

  • When they’re an employee: everyone in your company should have access to a wide range of accessibility, even if they don’t request it. This not only normalizes the inclusion of accessible tools in the office, but also makes it easier for neurodivergent employees to use them without feeling like an outcast or a burden for having to request it. 

As you can see, neurodivergent individuals have a lot to offer the tech industry and there are many ways to ensure that they feel welcomed during both the hiring process and once they’re an employee; the tech industry will only benefit from increasing levels of diversity and it’s on each and every one of us to continue improving it.

At Ironhack, we fully understand that the tech industry has not always been the most inviting place for neurodivergent individuals and that’s why we are proud to offer a flexible and customized way to enter the tech industry, allowing students to choose the modality that best fits them: remote or in-person, part or full time. We also offer hands-on and personalized career support, in addition to CV/portfolio review and interview prep to prepare our students for the job hunt in the most realistic way possible, setting them up for success.

An inclusive tech industry begins with us: we’re creating the next generation of techies and we’re proud that we’re cultivating a space that welcomes and cherishes all forms of diversity. 

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