4x ways to add value as a DE&I job seeker

In this week’s blog, I want to shed light on a specific topic around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). As a mom of three kids who are multi-racial and a professional with ADHD and OCD, I proudly fall into this category. I have been trying to research and better educate myself on what exactly DE&I is all about for candidates and employers.

The HR Daily Advisor (2022) highlighted that in 2021, discussions about Black Lives Matter movement, Critical Race Theory, privilege, affirmative action, microaggression, and “Leading with Race” created controversy and misunderstanding.

In recent years, many companies have expanded their DE&I efforts in response to nationwide protection against social injustice as well as the growing recognition of companies that need to take a leadership role in promoting a more inclusive society. Many companies have improved their recruiting practices over the last several years to really embrace DE&I while others are lagging behind.

The goal is to provide a space to ensure all talent feels a sense of belonging and well-being. Yet there is a new frontier that I’m learning more about as well which is starting to gain more traction than it deserves: neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity is the recognition that people interact with life and the world around them in a different way. It rejects the thought process that there is only one “right” way of communicating, learning, and thinking. Or that differences in the way people behave and operate should be viewed as deficits. 

You may be able to relate where you have a story that reminds you of how your race, age, gender felt like a barrier to winning a position or promotion. Inclusion is about ensuring employers consider how underrepresented groups (such as individuals with a disability, those with various ethics or religious backgrounds and practices, veterans, or LGBTQAA++) have equal access to opportunities, too! The more WE know about the topic and educate ourselves the better we will be both as candidates and employers (+ recruiters).

Neurodiversity embraces the idea that diversity in ways of thinking can lead to increases in productivity, spur innovation and create an overall competitive advantage for organizations. And that individual’s neurological conditions represent a vast, untapped source of talent and creativity.  

Forbes (2022) reported that nearly 15 percent of the world’s population – one billion people experience some form of disability. In the U.S. this includes 2.2 percent of adults who live with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) And the 4.4 percent living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Plus, another two to three million American adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

People like you and I, provide a unique advantage point and our “lens” offer a different perspective.

When employers begin to successfully embrace all we have to offer (DE&I), they outperform their counterparts in a number of ways through financial growth, profitability, and innovation.

The goal is to highlight what your “value-add” is for an organization. What makes you uniquely different with the ability to provide a competitive edge? Organizations need YOU in order to attract, hire, and retain a competitive and diverse workforce. A recent study also found an untapped talent pool of 10.7 million people that could help to strengthen the U.S. businesses and our economy. A small one percent increase in the number of people with disabilities in the workforce would boost GDP by $25 billion.  AAPD board chair Ted Kennedy, Jr. points out that leading companies are accelerating disability inclusion as the next frontier of corporate social responsibility and mission-driven investing.” Employers that include mental health and neurodiversity in ESG metrics would add a source of creativity, innovation, and productivity as well. Those numbers speak for themselves…

How can you communicate value through your resume and LinkedIn:

  • Communicate: who you are, what you do, what you’re passionate about, and how you’ll add value
  • Add DE&I keywords to ensure the audience understands the value it has in your life
  • Highlight your superpowers and key strengths
  • Include a section for hobbies, travel history, and volunteering – what else makes you stand out?

Neurodiverse companies also have a more loyal workforce. A U.S. Department of Labor analysis found that employers who embraced people with common neurological conditions saw a 90 percent increase in employee retention. That’s huge when considering which employer, you want to consider working for next!

Fast Company (2022) recently reported that when companies have lack of awareness there are profound ramifications for our society. School dropouts are higher at three times the rate of their neurotypical classmates. Lower wages, higher unemployment rates, homelessness, and jail are all increased possibilities when a person with learning and thinking differences is not set up for success and ways to thrive. In fact, without the necessary support, unemployment is two to three times more likely, and twice as many people end up in poverty. This impacts more than just the individuals and their families – it costs about $500 billion to our society.

While prior to the pandemic, a smaller number of the workforce disclosed their disabilities to their employers, now with the return to the office, there could be an increase in employees or prospective candidates disclosing disabilities. Another key learning from the pandemic was that many offices People with neurodivergence are looking for choices because we have trouble focusing, and are best served with more options for workspaces like common and quiet areas. Many of my clients are hesitant to go back into the physical office and would prefer to transition and work for a remote-first organization with a distributed workforce. 

Better recognition can lead to better work and learning spaces, and environments where all can thrive.

When we have the opportunity to work with others from diverse backgrounds, we have the opportunity to learn and grow with each other.  It is time to embrace what you have to offer through VALUE and feel confident in your ability to communicate your personal brand in a clear, concise, and direct way throughout the job search process to ensure you are interviewing the employer based on your needs as much as they are interviewing you for the role.

It’s about time you #shareyourstory

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