GAIN: The time is now for embracing diversity of thought

Liselle Appleby, Marketing & Communications Lead at GAIN (Group for Autism, Insurance & Neurodiversity), discusses the importance of the Buckland Review on Autism Employment for neurodiversity awareness in the workplace.

Related topics:  GAIN,  Diversity
Liselle Appleby | Marketing & Communications Lead at GAIN
13th March 2024
Autism Awareness
"As we look to the future, we move closer to seeing a shift in neurodiversity awareness as employers begin to understand the benefits of a neurodiverse workforce."
- Liselle Appleby, Marketing & Communications Lead at GAIN (Group for Autism, Insurance & Neurodiversity)

The Buckland Review on Autism Employment championed by GAIN’s (Group for Autism, Insurance & Neurodiversity) Honorary President, Rt Hon. Sir Robert Buckland KC KBE MP, sets out a vision for radically improving the employment prospects of neurodivergent individuals across all industries. It’s hoped that these recommendations will help fill vacancies, encourage more neuroinclusive workplace practices, and grow the economy with dramatic quantities of unlocked potential.

“The Buckland Review includes nineteen recommendations that’ll create a pathway for more neurodiverse people to start, stay, and succeed in work.”

According to research conducted by Nancy Doyle, 14% of the population identify as neurodiverse and are living with conditions such as autism, dyslexia, ADHD, or dyspraxia. Yet, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that only one in five autistic adults living in the UK have secured permanent employment.

“How many are already working within the insurance and investment industry, but masking their true selves from fear of losing their job or missing out on career opportunities?”

Embracing diversity of thought requires us to recognise what challenges are faced by the neurodiverse community. Autism Research’s ‘The Vulnerability Experiences Quotient (VEQ): A Study of Vulnerability, Mental Health, and Life Satisfaction in Autistic Adults’ highlights the challenging environment created when workplace practices, processes, and culture are predominately designed for neurotypical employees. The study found 46% of neurodivergent employees left the workplace due to mistreatment, 72% left due to their environment, 31% were regularly overlooked for promotion, 47% have spent a year unemployed while seeking work, and 53% were unable to get a role that matched their qualifications.

“With foresight and ingenuity, neurodivergent individuals offer diversity of thought, excelling in roles such as data, technology, risk, compliance, digital transformation, and operations.”

GAIN is leading the way in creating pathways for neuroinclusion in our industry, with member organisations such Zurich Insurance, Aviva, Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), and Association of British Insurers (ABI) making changes closely aligned with the Buckland Review recommendations.

Amongst members who’ve completed our industry benchmarking to map neuroinclusion, recent findings suggest there’s a high level of psychological safety amongst neurodivergent employees with 85% of respondents (1,183) feeling ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ safe to disclose their neurodiversity. Likewise, 87% felt ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ comfortable accessing different spaces available at work, such as quiet spaces and focus rooms.

“Most line managers want to support neurodiverse teams, but we need to develop specific support and resources for them, in alignment with expectations of HR and ERGs.”

Francis McGee, Executive Chair of GAIN, believes the Buckland Review is a “milestone for neurodiverse people, who we know can struggle to access and keep rewarding work.” GAIN’s members, who employ nearly 100k people in insurance, investment, and related financial services, recognise the benefit of harnessing the extraordinary abilities of neurodivergent people, and have pledged to make our industry more neuroinclusive.

GAIN believes neurodivergent individuals in the right job, with the right support, will not only thrive but exceed expectations. Recent studies from the University of Montreal & Harvard University have found individuals with autism can solve problems 40% faster than neurotypical colleagues – offering exceptional technical and mathematical abilities.

Diversity of thought has the power to deliver transformative change within our sector. But only if we recognise, attract, retain, and empower diverse thinkers within neuroinclusive cultures, processes, and practices.

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