From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NA
Mains level : human right of neuro-diverse people
- Discrimination in employment is a worldwide phenomenon. Gender, ethnic, racist discrimination are well known but discrimination towards neurodiverse persons are hardly debated in public forums. Despite having special abilities companies are not using their potentials.
- Harvard Health Publishing defines, neurodiversity as a notion that every person interacts and experiences their surroundings differently; there is no right way of thinking, learning, or/and behaving. These differences should not be construed as defects or disorders.
What is a neuro-diverse workplace?
- Neurodiversity in the workplace refers to including people with neuro-divergent conditions such as attention-deﬁcit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and Asperger’s Syndrome.
What are those Conditions that make them different from normal humans?
- Autism: A mental condition in which a person finds it difficult to communicate or form relationships with other people. Signs of autism include not responding to their name, avoiding eye contact, not smiling when you smile at them.
- Dyslexia: a difficulty that some people have with reading and spelling signs include confusion over letters that look similar and putting letters the wrong way round , confusing the order of letters in words, reading slowly or making errors when reading aloud
- Asperger’s syndrome: A developmental disorder related to autism and characterized by awkwardness in social interaction, pedantry in speech, and preoccupation with very narrow interests. Less severe symptoms than Autism syndrome.
- Dyscalculia: A brain disorder in which a wide range of difficulties with math, including weaknesses in understanding the meaning of numbers, and difficulty applying mathematical principles to solve problems.
How they can be naturally efficient and creative?
- More efficient: Studies have shown that teams with both neurodivergent and neurotypical members are far more efficient than teams that comprise neurotypical employees alone.
- Ability to focus: Neurodivergent individuals possess excellent attention to detail and an uncanny ability to focus on complex and repetitive tasks over a more extended period than their neurotypical peers.
- Ability to work at faster speed: A study by the University of Montreal found that in a test involving completing a visual pattern, people on the autism spectrum could finish their task 40% faster than those who were not on the spectrum.
- Robust spatial reasoning: People with dyslexia can think about objects in three dimensions and analyses such objects even with limited information.
- Out of box thinking: They have problem-solving capabilities which allow them to see multiple solutions to a problem. They are often out-of-the-box thinkers with average or above-average intelligence.
Current Status of people living with neurodivergent conditions
- People suffer with the Condition: According to a recent report, nearly 2 million people in India suffer from this neurological and developmental disorder and are therefore identified as autistic. Another study by Deloitte estimates that nearly 20% of the world is neurodiverse. In the U.S., it is estimated that 85% of people on the autism spectrum are unemployed compared with 4.2% of the overall population
- Discrimination at employment: Even with all the necessary skill sets and degrees, these persons are denied a job because they may react to situations differently from non-neurodiverse persons.
- Lack of awareness: Lack of awareness about neurodivergent conditions, and how the people with condition may react and lack of and accommodating environment. Hence, there is an urgency to create a work environment that welcomes neurodiverse individuals.
Current work profile of companies and workplaces
- A 2019 McKinsey study revealed that companies with gender diversity were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability while those with ethnic diversity out-rival their competitors by 36%.
- Another report titled ‘India’s Best Workplaces in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion 2021’ states that diverse teams perform better, boost leadership integrity, heighten trust in the organization’s management and multiply revenue growth.
Few Examples show that things are changing
- Competitive environment: Organisations embracing neurodiversity enjoy a competitive edge in several areas such as efficiency, creativity, and culture.
- Various MNC’s hiring program: Companies such as Deloitte, Microsoft, SAP, JPMorgan Chase, and E&Y have introduced neurodiversity hiring programs.
- Indian company: Indian-origin companies Hatti Kaapi and Lemon Tree Hotels have also included a neurodiverse workforce.
What can be done to create more inclusive workplaces?
- Creating neurodivergent friendly offices: .Many employees with neurodiversity may find the hustle and bustle of a traditional office disturbing. Therefore, neurodivergent friendly offices catering to the employees’ diverse sensory responses can help ensure that these employees are comfortable in office spaces.
- Openness: Creating the right environment is an ever-evolving exercise that requires openness and a will to change on the employer’s part. This flexibility can result in exceptional benefit with minimal or no additional costs.
- Wider Inclusivity: To ensure higher profitability and be respected as a responsible employer globally, companies need to widen their definition of inclusivity by providing higher participation of a neurodiverse workforce.
- Organizations must not only remove barriers that obstruct the progress of such individuals but also create conducive conditions for them to achieve their true potential and providing proper infrastructure so that they can perform at their optimal levels.
Q. People with neurodiversity are discriminated not only socially but also economically, Comment. What measures could be taken to bridge this gap within the society?