Neurodiversity is the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioral traits. Conditions that are most common among those who are described as neurodivergent include autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Neurodivergent employees may have skills in key areas such as attention to detail, pattern recognition, and problem solving that can bring new approaches to traditional tasks and may lead to increased productivity.


By embracing neurodiversity, employers—especially those in accounting and finance—can benefit from a workplace teeming with creativity, innovation, and a dynamic company culture. In a results-driven profession, diversity of thought and problem-solving skills provide a competitive advantage, such as creating more efficient workflows while empowering neurodivergent individuals to find meaningful and long-lasting careers.


Attract and Retain


When held to neurotypical expectations, neurodivergent individuals may be passed over for job opportunities, even if they have the right experience or advanced degrees. However, implementing best practices can set up neurodivergent candidates and organizations for success.


Attracting and retaining neurodivergent individuals starts at the beginning of the talent acquisition life cycle. Job applications and the interview process should be inclusive and accessible, as well as offer a wide array of accommodations. Job descriptions with concrete language and clear requirements encourage neurodivergent job seekers to apply, while ambiguous job postings may intimidate candidates and make them believe they aren’t qualified. For the interview stage, employers might remove the panel-style format and instead hold individual, time-limited, one-on-one conversations with candidates. A hands-on evaluation as part of a supportive interview allows neurodivergent individuals to better showcase their skills.


Other on-the-job accommodations help to retain neurodiverse talent. These resources, which can instill confidence when at work, improve accessibility, and foster an overall more inclusive work environment, include:

  • Meeting agendas to help prepare for the conversation and providing recordings of the call to refer to after the discussion.
  • Noise-canceling headphones and quiet workspaces to limit distractions and for when individuals need to take a moment to decompress.
  • Employee resource groups or business resource groups that allow employees to connect with other like-minded employees on meaningful topics.
  • Work environment options, either at home or in an office setting, for an optimal and productive atmosphere.
  • Web accessibility courses for employees who create website and intranet content for improved accessibility standards.

In addition to these accommodations, a neurodiversity-certified professional who works directly with neurodivergent employees can further help mentor, advocate, and assist in an individual’s career development. The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards offers such certifications to help professionals ensure that workplaces are attracting and retaining neurodiverse talent effectively.


What’s Next?


To ensure the successful implementation of neurodiversity employment programs and training, it’s vital to lean into technological advancements, such as generative AI, that can help individualize a program. AI specifically complements the process by tailoring onboarding and training for neurodivergent or neurotypical employees based on accommodations, preferences, experiences, and skills.


Additionally, the U.S. government is looking to increase neurodiversity in the workplace, which will continue to drive employment programs throughout the country. Government agencies have begun to develop their own neurodiversity at work programs, and it’s crucial that they continue to hire from this talent pool and create industry standards as they do so. Especially at the local level, engagement with government and small to mid-size businesses can make all the difference.


Partnerships with schools, universities, government agencies, and other businesses help to educate everyone on the available opportunities and success neurodiversity brings to the workplace. This industry expansion and awareness at the academic level fuels the momentum.


Industry Success


Introducing neurodiverse talent in the workplace has demonstrated considerable success. Beyond the positive impact neurodiversity can have on an organization’s culture, there’s a strategic business advantage at play.


Data reports are staples for financial leaders to make real-time and sound business decisions. In one case, a wealth management provider needed to take raw data from reports related to IT service management, capital financials, and human capital management, and then synchronize the data. The company decided to improve its analytics platform and business intelligence (BI) reports by tapping into the neurodiverse talent pool.


With pertinent skills including attention to detail and innovation, a neurodiverse team introduced daily testing coverage to the analytics platform and built an automation framework, improving overall productivity. Through the framework, the team was able to validate more than 75% of the base extracted tables every day and document more than 30 feature files with more than 200 test scenarios. It later built another automated testing framework to validate more than 45 production BI reports used by stakeholders. This saved the provider more than 20 hours of weekly manual validation.


The team also successfully implemented a daily reporting checklist to alert the group’s leadership when reports were operable, which provided more testing coverage. The team solved past issues caused by disparate reporting and stale data to ensure data integrity in its reports.


This is one of many examples that demonstrates how a team of neurodivergent individuals can change processes to automate workflows and increase productivity for entire departments.


Long-Lasting Impact


The accounting and finance profession stands to benefit from embracing neurodiversity employment. By hiring neurodivergent individuals, companies can unlock a wealth of untapped potential and foster a culture of innovation, problem solving, and different perspectives—all key to the fast-paced and evolving world of accounting and finance.


These programs are not only providing jobs but also creating meaningful career paths for neurodivergent individuals. They build on individual strengths, promote inclusivity, and contribute to a more equitable society. A commitment to neurodiversity isn’t just a step toward a more inclusive workplace, but a stride toward a more diverse and efficient accounting and finance profession.


ECSProductAdsSFwebsiteDEI540x69 v2

About the Authors