In today's diverse workforce, organizations are recognizing the value of neurodiversity, including unique skill sets like Dyslexic Thinking. Many organizations believe they are doing enough to support dyslexic talent. Still, the research we published with Made By Dyslexia earlier this year shows a different story — one that requires greater efforts on both sides of the matter.
- Some 66% of HR leaders believe that their organization works to accommodate Dyslexic Thinkers, but, only 33% of dyslexics agree.
- When it comes to providing long-term support in the workplace, such as affinity groups, 64% of employers believe they offer it, while only 13% of dyslexics agree.
This research shows organizations need to urgently reassess to ensure they harness these skills — including but not limited to visualizing, imagining, communicating, reasoning, connecting and exploring — to offer genuine support and foster a culture of inclusion. The first step is for organizational leaders to engage in dialogue with dyslexic talent, and that begins with the creation of business resource groups (BRGs) dedicated to supporting neurodivergent talent.
Now you might be thinking, "How does a BRG differ from an affinity group or an ERG (Employee Resource Group)?" Put simply, all BRGs and ERGs are affinity groups, but not all affinity groups are ERGs, and not all ERGs are BRGs. A BRG is typically more aligned with strategic business goals. If you’ve already decided to make Dyslexic Thinking an organizational imperative in your business, then it's likely the right term is BRG.
structuring your BRG for success
The BRG model emphasizes the significance of allies and advocacy, introducing metrics and performance evaluations for leaders while directly linking the groups to strategic business objectives. To achieve this alignment, four crucial factors come into play:
1. having a clear purpose and scope
Why are you making this movement happen, and how does it benefit employees, customers, partners, or prospects?
2. granting access to resources essential for fulfilling BRG needs
These resources encompass a variety of tools such as survey software, design software, internal communications platforms, social media platforms, mailing lists, conference and collaboration systems, etc.
3. ensuring support is provided for the professional growth of BRG members
4. securing an adequate budget to address the group's requirements
This may also be supplemented by strategic partnerships or fundraising efforts, which will likely vary for the size of the organization and its sector.
create your neurodiversity BRG
This eight-step guide outlines the steps to create a Neurodiversity BRG, with a focus on supporting dyslexic thinking and other neurodivergent skillsets.
step 1: define the purpose and scope
- Start by defining the purpose of your Neurodiversity BRG, emphasizing the support for neurodivergent individuals, including those with dyslexic thinking. It might help to make this a "charter" that ensures you stay on track and keep focused on the main goal.
- Determine the scope of the BRG — consider whether it will be exclusively for dyslexia or broader to include other neurodivergent conditions.
- Get an executive sponsor early on in the process. To ensure the work you’re doing gets communicated to the highest levels and you don’t scramble for resources, you need an executive sponsor. In this case, an executive with dyslexia would carry more weight due to it being a personal mission.
step 2: build a diverse team
- Assemble a team of passionate individuals who champion neurodiversity and have a genuine interest in supporting dyslexic and neurodivergent talent.
- Encourage participation from professionals, employees with neurodivergent skills, and other stakeholders.
- Not everyone involved in the BRG needs to be dyslexic. From our own experiences, there are partners, parents and friends of dyslexics who want to join Dyslexic Thinkers as allies. This can prove really beneficial when you begin to communicate with the wider organization.
step 3: create an inclusive culture
- Review existing inclusivity statements and missions to ensure there is a clear vision and to emphasize the importance of creating an inclusive workplace culture that values neurodiversity. If it needs revisions, work with existing owners of the positioning to include in respect of Dyslexic Thinking.
- Communicate the purpose and goals of the BRG to the entire organization, fostering awareness and understanding.
step 4: develop educational initiatives
- Partner with organizations like Made By Dyslexia and LinkedIn Learning to access resources, such as training courses and materials, for employees to understand Dyslexic Thinking and other neurodivergent skill sets.
- Promote internal educational sessions and workshops to raise awareness and support the unique strengths associated with neurodiversity. A good starting point for this would be to combine employees who have known they are dyslexic for some time and newer dyslexics too. Personal stories go a long way in building understanding.
- Bringing in external experts who can talk about Dyslexic Thinking at large is a good way to build authority.
step 5: advocate for adjustments
- Collaborate with HR, Talent Acquisition and other relevant departments to implement workplace adjustments or accommodations that enable employees with neurodivergent skills to thrive. Check out our recent post on this for inspiration.
- Ensure that necessary accommodations are readily available and effectively communicated to those who need them.
- Put together a guide for neurotypical employees to understand how their actions can contribute to a more inclusive workplace.
step 6: foster mentorship and peer support
- Establish a line in your existing mentorship program (or develop a mentorship program if it doesn’t exist) where employees with dyslexic thinking or neurodivergent skills can guide their peers.
- Create support networks or peer groups within the organization for individuals to share experiences and strategies.
step 7: celebrate achievements
- Share success stories and case studies that showcase the positive impact of neurodiversity on projects and initiatives.
- Don’t just focus on creativity skills, which are now often lauded as Dyslexic Thinking, but find examples that support shows of leadership, social influence, initiative and idea generation.
step 8: collaborate with external organizations
- Form partnerships with external organizations that specialize in supporting neurodiversity, such as Made By Dyslexia, to schools that focus on neurodivergence, and prominent business organizations looking to work together for great understanding, such as Virgin, Microsoft, HSBC, EY and LinkedIn.
- Leverage these partnerships to access expertise, resources, and potential candidates.
Ultimately, creating a Dyslexic Thinking or Neurodivergence BRG is a pivotal step for People leaders to support Dyslexic Thinking and other neurodivergent skills within their organization.
By fostering an inclusive culture, providing education, and offering resources and support, HR leaders can create an environment where all thinking skills are valued and celebrated. Organizational and behavioral change takes time, so don’t delay. Embracing neurodiversity leads to innovation, productivity, and a more equitable and diverse workforce, ensuring your organization's success in a rapidly evolving world. The sooner you start, the sooner you can reap the rewards.