How neurodiverse women can thrive in the workplace

Embracing workplace authenticity and flexibility for neurodiverse individuals fosters innovation, success, and a more inclusive environment.
By: | December 20, 2023

Neurodivergence in the workplace is becoming an increasingly discussed topic, especially among women.

As Sowmiya Selvakumaraswamy, an Emerging Technologies Specialist at NCS, a global technology services firm, explained in an article for Women’s Agenda, there was an expectation for neurodivergent women to ‘mask’ or pretend to fit in the corporate workplace to be taken seriously.  However, what she had learnt in her experience was that allowing herself to be herself in the corporate workplace was much more effective in how she presented herself and did her work.

With Australia having “some of the highest rates of neurodiversity in the world,” Selvakumaraswamy admitted that there were many employees who could face multiple diagnoses to contend with, along with other psychiatric and other disorders that could impact an employee’s impact and their performance at work. Writing about her diagnoses of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder and autism in her 20s, she discussed how her neurodivergence helped her discover just how she could contribute to her workplace and what employers could do to embrace neurodiverse employees in the workplace.

“Once workplaces start adapting to and better catering for all of us, they open themselves up to greater innovation, to new and exciting ways of doing things and solving problems and with that, success,” she said.

The key word, and one that she was emphatic about, was the importance of flexibility.  Employers, she said, should reconsider the way they interview prospective employees in the recruitment process, and allow more flexibility when it comes to work hours and how they deliver projects. They should also consult neurodiverse employees on workplace policies and procedures and allow accommodations to employees such as adjustable lighting, noise-cancelling headphones and fidget toys, or even quiet/sensory rooms to work in.

READ MORE: How employers and managers can build a neuroinclusive workplace

“So much more than a buzzword, flexibility is vital for neurodiverse people in every aspect of life,” Selvakumaraswamy concluded.