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Understanding Neurodiversity in Recruitment

Neurodiversity is the concept that there is diversity in the way the brain functions, and that this is a normal and valuable part of human diversity. Neurodiversity in the workplace refers to the inclusion and support of individuals with neurodivergent conditions, such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia, in the recruitment and employment process. In this webinar, Josie Miller and Aaron Mercer discuss the role of neurodiversity in recruitment and the challenges and opportunities that neurodiverse individuals bring to the workplace. They also discuss a pilot program offered by Test Grid and Exceptional to support the hiring of neurodivergent individuals.


# Understanding Neurodiversity in Recruitment - YouTube


## Transcript:

- ([00:19]( hello everyone and welcome to our webinar on understanding neurodiversity and recruitment we will be starting in just a couple of minutes so stay tuned all right so we've hit about 1101 so i

- ([01:48]( might get started now hi everyone i'm josie miller assessment leader test grid and this is aaron mercer from um exceptional so it's a real treat to have him joining us today he is our expert on neurodiversity so we'll just give a couple of introductions and then we'll get started so um i'm josie i look after our assessments at test grid so test grid's a provider of psychometric assessments and we have a range of different assessments on our platform so i'm really enthusiastic to be talking

- ([02:26]( about neurodiversity today because it's something that um as an organization that really values diversity and inclusion it's something that we really want to strive for and so this is a really exciting collaboration for us so i've got a psychology background i've worked a little bit with children with autism in the past but when it comes to neurodiversity and recruitment aaron has a lot more knowledge than i do so um welcome aaron look thanks for the opportunity and i've really enjoyed speaking with you and the

- ([02:59]( team um there's a real passion you've got around around inclusion around enabling employers to get the best opportunities in terms of talent so i'm aaron i'm part of the founding team at exceptional exceptional helps employers assess place and support neurodivergent people in open employment and we train employers on inclusion and we've been doing that since uh since late 2017.

- ([03:31]( thank you all right so we'll get started with our webinar now so just quickly before we start i wanted to do an acknowledgement of country um so i just wanted to recognize the traditional owners on the land that we are meeting on today um recognising that these are indigenous peoples lands i am personally on the land of the ghana people but everyone is spread across so just acknowledging that this always was and always will be indigenous land and acknowledging their elders past present and future so our agenda for today's webinar we're

- ([04:13]( planning to go for about half an hour and then have some time for questions at the end so we'll start off with a little bit of info about test grid and exceptional and how we plan to work together and we'll have some q a so i will be quizzing aaron's brain for all of his knowledge about neurodiversity and how you can use that in the recruitment process and also the key challenges and roles that neurodiverse individuals would be neurodivergent individuals would be suited to and then towards the end we'll be

- ([04:48]( talking about a pilot offer that we're offering to test grid and exceptional organizations and anybody else who's interested in hiring more neurodivergent people so watch this space and we'll get to that at the end so just a little bit about test grid a lot of you probably know some of this already being some of our clients but just a little bit of history we're an hr tech company we enable smarter and faster business decisions and empower success through people so we're really passionate about

- ([05:26]( helping people be aligned to the right types of roles and also to enjoy their roles so we were founded in 1999 in where we moved a lot of pen and paper assessments onto a digital platform and then we've been working in a lot of assessment in hr tech areas and expanded quite a bit so what our aim is is to reduce bias all the personal biases that we have in recruitment processes and use objective and standardized measures to be able to assess and recruit and develop individuals so we've got quite a lot of assessments going out so

- ([06:08]( in 2020 we had over 1 million assessments conducted and we really pride ourselves on our customer service as well so average length of relationships with our customers being 8.2 years i'll pass on to aaron now to talk a little bit about who exceptional is yes i touched on i guess our core business in terms of assessing placing and supporting neurodivergent people we've got a neurodivergent team largely we have assessed over 1600 candidates over the last few years conducted 22 000 assessments and we've found a way

- ([06:53]( i guess our expertise i wouldn't consider myself an expert on neurodiversity but exceptional and i kind of represent our team who have got deep expertise the intersection of neurodiversity and employment and we've found a way that works for neurodivergent people in terms of allowing them to to demonstrate their skill we've got a really high satisfaction rate with that process which is fantastic and a high retention rate um and the key areas that we're operating in is has historically been financed

- ([07:27]( technology and operations but that is um increasing all the time and we have some cool logos on our slide there very cool logos indeed okay so now we're just going to get stuck into the q a um so to get started what is neurodiversity aaron yeah look it's a great place to start because language language matters and terms do matter so neurodiversity josie describes individuals who have naturally occurring neural variations in areas like thinking attention and memory and it's an umbrella term and it's often associated

- ([08:12]( with conditions such as adhd autism dyslexia tourette syndrome the term was actually coined right here in australia by an autistic woman judy singer in the late 1990s and she was one of the first people to see that the medical perspective on focusing on the deficit is not the full picture of a person and she saw a lot of these conditions have strengths associated with them as well and that's really the the her work with built on it exceptional focusing on what people can do and what's um you know what are they what are they great

- ([08:48]( at and we encounter language matters because we encounter a lot of well-intentioned people who often are scared to start an organ conversation about neurodiversity in the work environment and they're scared to start that because they're they're unsure of terms so just just a couple of things to touch on so neurodiversity is the term um is the umbrella term if i was referring to an individual who identified um as neurodivergent i would say neurodivergent as opposed to neurodiversity and beyond that many people would be

- ([09:25]( aware of first person language so saying a person with autism or a person with vision impairment has been common practice and widely accepted in medical and educational communities as a way of identifying disability for 30 years at exceptional we use identity first language by referring to an individual as autistic or dyslexic now there is debate within the communities um uh around that but we do that because our own staff and a lot of the candidates we most of the candidates we speak with prefer to be referred to as

- ([10:04]( autistic many will explain that autism is not an add-on but an intrinsic part of who they are so for them to hear a person with autism um sounds very much like a person with french or a person with gay it's not an add-on it's a part of who they are so through this webinar as we go through questions you'll hear me use that identity first language um but as i said there is still debate on that and if that if you know if you identify as neurodivergent and or have family members you may choose to use another

- ([10:39]( um another type of language but for us that's that's what we use that's really interesting actually because i know throughout a lot of my psych training we were always taught you know you need to see a person with autism but it's so interesting to hear that neurodivergent people actually do see it as a part of their identity and um yes so something to think about moving forward um and i guess it does differ a lot for each individual as well yeah yeah and look out our approach is um the you know kind of

- ([11:12]( complex technology of atp we we ask the person um and then yeah respect as well as things like pronouns in terms of respecting their wishes yeah they said all of our staff who identify as neurodivergent prefer identity first language and the vast majority of candidates that we work with prefer that okay well thank you for that um so we've got our next question here which is why are employers actively hiring neurodivergent people right now so what um what can employers get out of this yeah so i think look if if this was a

- ([11:49]( 30-second webinar i would say they're hiring your divergent people because they need to because coverts made it easier um but i'll go into a bit more detail so um you know as a starting point neurodiversity is more common than most people think so it's estimated around one in seven people and you're a divergent and in speaking with employers that we know um many people don't disclose their their their condition there's some research from here in the uk that estimated around two-thirds of people don't

- ([12:23]( disclose so when we talk about actively hiring neurodivergent people we're talking about intentionally and knowingly hiring and this really you know really with the prevalence of neurodiversity the employers on this call have already hired people who are dyslexic or autistic without a doubt our focus at exceptional is helping employers find neurodivergent people that they would otherwise overlook and supporting those you've already hired so the big the big why question now is everyone on this call would be aware of

- ([12:59]( talent shortages so recent survey from kpmg their business leaders 70 of them cited acquiring and keeping talent is their number one concern and some estimates three to five years around when um the current shortage of talent is going to subside the skill shortages are pushing up wages um i'm sure if anyone read the afr article last week that i certainly certainly paid attention to that software developers in in some sectors have had a salary increase of 45 percent six months um wow yeah we're in the wrong game josie maybe

- ([13:41]( yeah i know what am i doing um and we look we speak to employers around the country and indeed in the region in markets like singapore and hong kong in india where they can't find software engineers qa project managers designers a whole range of skills and so at the same time we know neurodivergent people autistic people in particular face significant barriers to finding and keeping a job the official unemployment rates um hovers around 35 according to the united nations if you add in under employment it's around 80

- ([14:19]( so you've got it you've got a group of people that are being routinely overlooked at a time when you've got significant shortages of talent with covert the changes that employers have adopted have led to an amazing um and kind of only once in our generation opportunity to rethink how we're working many of us are dialing in from uh from home today and so we we actually kind of were adapting this before covert um hit and that's largely because when we surveyed our autistic candidates in 2019 we found

- ([14:59]( that 92 of them wanted to work from home at least part of the time they wanted to be able to control their environment so um the the the changes that employers have been able to make with how they've remotely assessed remotely onboarded remotely supported we've had to make those changes as well but it's never been easier in terms of those adaptations um to hire a neurodivergent people and look at our view this this might sound like a grandiose statement but we we think in a tight labor market that neurodiversity

- ([15:36]( should be a part of any organization's talent strategy and it represents um really the large the last great pool in terms of untapped talent um which is you know part of the reason why we're excited to be sharing with your employment partners and and talking to you about um you know adopting the the methods that we've we've built so there's a long answer so yeah the short version is they need to and cabins yeah yeah the long answer but really valuable stuff there i think what really stood

- ([16:07]( out to me is that you know this is talent that we're missing out on and it's never been easier to actually hire these people because they've got all of these um alterations that we're finally able to make you know if they want to work from home we can work from home this is the time so it's really you know it would almost be silly not to act on it at the moment yeah totally and also the point that um organizations have already employed them and and maybe unknowingly maybe yeah talk about things like psychological

- ([16:43]( safety maybe people aren't happy to to disclose um a condition maybe they don't think it's relevant but your employment partners the people in this call have already employed neurodivergent people whether they know it or not um and sometimes they can be far more productive and creative than anyone else yeah yeah yeah definitely all righty so next up the next quiz question um why is the traditional recruitment process challenging for neurodivergent people yeah and look i'll be able to touch on a cut like i'm really covering off a broad

- ([17:21]( um kind of uh broad view here there's a number of research papers and things that we've got access to and if if the people on the webinar would like additional information more than happy to to share that but you know we can only cover so much in in the period of time but if there are additional things you'd like to know um more than happy to make that uh make that available so to the question so neurodivergent candidates um they're routinely overlooked um for a number of reasons so i've talked

- ([17:51]( about the kind of untapped talent paul and you know jose you talked about skills so often neurodivergent people can have skills and areas like attention to detail and logic and problem solving the ability to concentrate for for significant periods of time and that can make them incredibly valuable but they're often overlooked for reasons like reasons that might be trivial like lack of eye contact or being caught off guard by an unexpected phone screen um not having the right keywords in that cover letter and cv and not making it

- ([18:26]( into the into the short list so the the untrue assumptions is really what my kind of area of passion is and what we bump up against every day in speaking with employers so one of our values at exceptional so from day one exceptionals built um a neurodiverse first kind of culture we've built a team um myself included so i have adhd and interestingly we're talking about disclosure i i've never mentioned in a professional context in my life before working for exceptional that i was neurodivergent but suddenly we were having these

- ([19:03]( conversations with employers and talked about part of your identity and and it is part of my identity um our autistic our tech team are largely autistic so we built this diverse kind of team but despite that we still catch ourselves making assumptions based on a label for example one of the most common misconceptions is autistic people are fantastic in individual contributor roles but they struggle with customers and leadership not true another is adhd is like me are full of energy and ideas but they can't manage

- ([19:39]( projects because they lack attention to detail also not true um can confirm yeah yeah so so employers that we speak with can make these same assumptions so look you heard it first in this webinar i'm glad it's being recorded but breaking news not all autistic people want to work in tech just make make sure you write that down not everyone wants to work in tech to put some numbers around that in the u.

- ([20:09]( s uh ey the consulting firm have a neurodiverse center of excellence that they've now expanded into multiple countries and by their estimation 35 percent of autistic adults have the aptitude attitude and desire to work in technology from our experience over the last five years at exceptional um that that figures less than 20 but regardless it's not the majority so not all autistic people want to go and be developers um and that's that that is one of the biggest misconceptions that we come up against at the same time many do have amazing

- ([20:41]( skills in that in that sector and there are a number of uh jobs that are that are vacant every day because people can't feel them so um it's a little bit chicken chicken and egg but you know autistic people can be hugely creative and and and and visually orientated which makes them fantastic designers and architects and a whole range of skills that um and areas that we don't often get asked about and another misconception that is frustrating also a little bit disrespectful if you think about it is

- ([21:16]( that neurodivergent people are going to require significant support once employed this is partly because neurodivergent conditions like adhd are invisible so what are the wheelchair ramps for invisible disabilities and against this kind of backdrop many employers imagine extreme scenarios um you know it might surprise those on the webinar that are studying curtin university 2016 found that you could onboard autistic adults benefiting the employers the employees the organization without incurring any additional costs

- ([21:54]( but quite often the the reverse is true in the minds of hiring managers and of talent leads one of the biggest frustrations that i've got in speaking with employers i'm kind of airing frustrations here but yeah is this a venting session aaron it's not meant to be but look there's tremendous opportunity um but employers often think they need to wait for perfect and we've made this mistake as well they need to wait for perfect conditions before hiring people that present differently and the underlying

- ([22:27]( assumption is that the rapid pace of change um is not going to suit people who may prefer stability routine and appreciate written instructions she prior to this with this webinar i was on the phone to a a very well-known tech company based in melbourne who have recently moved office and when i first started speaking to them in 2019 they were moving office and building a behemoth kind of purpose-built structure and the thinking was that they didn't want to bring people into an office environment with that much kind of change and and um

- ([23:04]( they were literally moving across the across the um the road in 2022 with remote work and in in in the changes with cover that seems um absurd but yeah once again the the assumptions being that that people can't people who identify as neurodivergent are going to struggle with change um you know our organization has grown has grown rapidly and changed a lot it's outside us some of our um australia's fastest growing tech companies are among our customers you know i hope they don't mind me mentioning them but fantastic

- ([23:40]( organizations like wisetec global and deputy they've got glowing global global scale complexity um a lot of change rapid growth in numbers of people but they've proven themselves really adaptable of neurodivergent people um in terms of in terms of employing them um so yeah i think i think that there's there's untrue assumptions everywhere and i think that the main message is ask the person but don't assume based on what you've seen in the media or the family experience that all people are the same who are

- ([24:17]( neurodivergent um you know often within the community the saying goes if you've met one autistic person you've met one autistic person so ask them and think beyond the kind of stereotypes yes that's so true there's just so many different ways it can present um neurodiversity so it is just i love that acronym atp ask the person yeah it works well although although often not used yeah no often not used there's just so many assumptions we can make so and that's so true about all types of bias

- ([24:50]( in recruitment um which we we heavily talk about at test screens so um yeah it's definitely another one of those um alrighty so what talking about all of this we know the need we know what companies are going to get out of it um what practical changes can we actually make to attract neurodivergent candidates yeah i think i think in kind of thinking about that josie you know you and i have spoken before around the traditional recruitment process and how parts of it can be particularly challenging for neurodiversion people and

- ([25:26]( looking at it logically it's really um uh if you take autistic people as an example um there's no logical way to to explain the fact you've got 80 percent underemployment or unemployment where people have got average to high intelligence and often amazing skills in high needs so that the system hasn't been working and so if we think about say different processes different stages so we have looked at four phases consider apply interview and retain and at each of those phases there are barriers so

- ([26:08]( before an application before someone even puts an application for the reality is that people are thinking about your company or engaging with your your your company your brand before they submit an application perhaps they're a customer of yours um but perhaps they're just doing desktop research and many neurodivergent people that we talk to count themselves out at this phase um and they never get to submit an application perhaps they've struggled to find a job for a long period of time and then they

- ([26:38]( might have sent hundreds of applications and their poor experience of often not hearing back has meant that they're they've actually stepped back they're not active in the labor market which means they're not caught um or captured in the in the unemployment stats there's things that employers can do um you know there's a there's a cliche but you can't be what you can't see so if if employers aren't actually actively saying that they welcome neurodivergent people if neurodiversion

- ([27:06]( people can't see themselves represented um on your company's website and and in your report and in in in marketing you know dylan talked about this in terms of his um you know growing up in his australian of the year speech when he was growing up the only representation of people with physical disabilities was um negative in the media and that and that really is the same when we're talking about consideration um for for employment and really for for those that muster up the courage to apply um the application phase um

- ([27:42]( largely revolves around the job app and these can be wish lists laundry lists sometimes of skills often they're cut and paced i've done that as a hiring manager before the the record that we've seen at exceptional is 12 pages josie would you believe um for a job for a job description and and like other minority groups many neurodivergent people count themselves out if they don't meet 100 of the criteria so really i guess the encouragement is think carefully about the essential skills that you've got on

- ([28:18]( there we were to give you a practical example we worked with an employer in business intelligence and the job description asks for skills in power bi and really what we we spend time doing is is kind of pushing back sometimes and getting getting an understanding of what adjacent skills might be useful and it came out that a power user in excel could be trained in power bi over the course of one or two weeks and in fact the employer was more than willing to train people that actually had the the other skills and potential and that kind of

- ([28:53]( flexibility really opened up that job description to a much bigger pool of people whereas before that they'll need a neurodivergent person might see power bi and not know it and not apply you're really limiting yourself at that at that point um interviews um [Music] in in well i'll take a step back in 2018 and 19 we ran a series of workshops assessment workshops um some for external employers some ourselves um in sydney and melbourne and in most cases and we had people come in um when we all used to meet in an office

- ([29:38]( for for three days and um and perform a series of puzzles and activities and and and um uh basically an opportunity for employers and and candidates to meet in most cases the candidates that came in had never sat in front of an employer uh wow yeah and we were talking kind of 50 60 people over the course of a number of workshops in two different cities most of them had never had an interview um and and because of the reasons i've just covered they're counting themselves out they're getting screened because they

- ([30:14]( don't have the right keywords but for the lucky ones that get in front of the interview it can be incredibly stressful and i've had it described that they place so such emphasis on it because it's like their grand final day they've never got they've never made it this far and so they put a lot of pressure on themselves um and interviews can be stressful for for most people and we we recently said exceptional we recently interviewed a number of um neurodivergent professionals around their views on interviews so rather than

- ([30:47]( my words i want to share what briony had to say briony's um an autistic individual who we know incredibly talented um and she had some some fantastic feedback on what her perspective is around interviews and and for her interview is like a game but it's a game where autistic people like her don't know the rules and they don't know the objective and they don't know what the interview panel is looking for um sometimes saying one thing and actually looking for another um it's a game that involves social skills

- ([31:22]( which you know briony knows her and other autistic people like her can struggle with such as saying one thing and meeting another or demanding eye contact um and she had a she had a fantastic kind of line she said that often she feels that interviewers and she's you know a qualified lawyer and gainfully employed but she often feels the interviewers place more emphasis on how a question is answered in terms of the body language and and how it's communicated and she said a poor answer delivered with confidence may be valued more than a

- ([31:57]( good answer spoken quietly while staring at the ground absolutely and all of this contributes to a sense of this is an artificial situation that i don't belong in and so it's just really valuable to hear those to hear those words um yeah about you asked about i'm conscious about time i was going okay you asked about practical things and so really conscious you want to give people practical things they can take away so just thinking about um so we talked about the job advert um talked about you know representation and the

- ([32:34]( consideration phase but there's a couple of key things that we've learned over the last five years on the interview that i'd like to go through um yeah i think that would be great and yeah i think a lot of the people on the call would get a lot out of that i would imagine yeah yeah so so wherever possible um ask neurodivergent people to demonstrate their skills instead of explaining it so a common workaround is give them a work sample and then if there is an interview whether it be over digital technology or face-to-face use

- ([33:12]( that opportunity to talk about how they answered a particular question in a in a work sample if that's appropriate give give clear logistical advice for applicants including location instructions on how to find the building dress code so basically don't assume knowledge now when exceptional got involved in the remarkable program which is a an amazing accelerator for organizations building services and technology for people with a disability we moved into the startup hub in wynyard for those familiar with um with that

- ([33:52]( building and we produced a guide on how to get to the office and the guide was i think from memory a dozen pages it was heavy it was image heavy so pictures of the bottom of wynyard station platform three how to get out and i thought it was overkill when i um when i got it um and saw it we also experimented for those workshops i mentioned with things like uh vr for travel planning without help from our friends at google and all of this was designed to reduce stress and travel anxiety and and allow people to be their best self when they

- ([34:27]( get there but the interesting thing happened josie is we had people who weren't neurodivergent who traveled on a train from newcastle or wollongong or were from interstate who actually commented on that guide as an example of something that they found particularly um helpful being sydney's city and and and that particular part of city is very busy and they actually found it really really helpful so you know adaptations you're making for a group that you're overlooking they're going to help others

- ([34:59]( okay yes which is often how innovation happens um you look at you look at one group that's being um discriminated against or or is um you know not navigating the system you make an adaptation and others others benefit um i guess you think a lot of anxiety and fear that comes with neurodivergent individuals in the recruitment process is probably shared by a lot of other individuals as well and so making those kinds of adaptations can reduce that anxiety yeah yeah yeah most most people get anxious to a degree at a

- ([35:37]( interviews matter like if you don't live you because you want the job um even even in a seller's market like it is now in in talent you you want the job um and uh it's it's a it is an artificial situation as brian described but there are things you can do to to reduce that um yeah so giving an advanced warning of the topics and questions and this can be a contentious one because it may seem like an unfair advantage in all the work that exceptional does in the conversations we're having with test grid

- ([36:16]( what we're advocating for is not about lowering the barrier and lowering your standards this you know the conversations with test group the opportunity around the the pilot really is about widening your pull of people and not not not going after the same groups of people so if it may seem like an unfair advantage to give neurodivergent people questions in advance give everyone the questions in advance what you're really kind of addressing there is often autistic people in particular can have deficits in in

- ([36:48]( verbal processing which means they can take longer than others to answer a question that can sometimes be 20 seconds or more which if you think about it is a long pause and um you know to bryony's point around you know looking at the floor and speaking softly and and not making eye contact um if the topic of that or the the purpose of that interview is to exchange information then you know there are other ways you can do that and set candidates up for success um holding the interview environment itself is um is

- ([37:26]( very important so digital technology it's easier to control the environment but where you're having people come in person think about things like a round table um rather than a kind of flat table or a square table and having people sitting on one side and the candidate on the other do not meet in a cafe please um it may seem less threatening for you but it's not so you know personally with adhd and i actually also have a hearing loss i find cafe meetings um incredibly distracting hard to hear what's actually going on

- ([38:05]( and you're just not going to get the best out of that conversation so if your purp if your intent is to actually understand how people think could you work with them and actually get to know them don't don't don't go to a cafe if you need a coffee have one before or after but don't try and kill two birds with one stone um and then having it having a small panel is important as well in the work that we've done with state government departments often there's a requirement around around panel and

- ([38:39]( interviews and many cases we're reducing the number of people from three to four down down to two just not to overwhelm people and and finally um jargon jargon jargon and assumed knowledge can trip neurodiversion people up we had an autistic candidate that commented that an interviewer was using the phrase consistently in an interview at the end of the day and and this individual thought they literally meant the end of that specific day and was kind of confused and we kind of think that's silly but for people that

- ([39:16]( interpret things literally you know we had josie who um we're putting up for a role with a major australian employer and they were asked the role was a data analyst role and they were asked how how would you compare yourself to the other candidates and you and i might know that's when you might sell yourself well you might look for something that others don't have but this person answered the question literally and they said i do not know i have not met them which is a good answer for a data analyst they

- ([39:48]( they didn't have the data but those kind of questions can really um can can can really stump people that's um that interpret things literally yeah wow that's some huges and things that yeah i hadn't considered so yeah thanks aaron i think it's funny when you mentioned try not to to kill two birds with one stone um in the the cafe doing job interviews because um the cafe across the road from test grids actually called two birds one stone in melbourne and south yarra so maybe that's what people are trying to

- ([40:22]( do there yeah no really there's so much extraneous noise in cafes that i can imagine it would be yeah not a pleasant environment for a job interview well i i can't hear and so you can't not hear and do social distancing and concentrate all at the same time it doesn't do that too much too many things all righty so i'm conscious of the time we've got one last question for you and then we'll get into talking about the pilot and open it up to our participants so um what has surprised you about building

- ([40:52]( recruitment processes for neurodivergent candidates uh look i'm surprised every day by the range of people amazing people who [Music] are looking for a chance and kind of trusting our team in in terms of finding a role we've got in the last six months alone we've had lawyers doctors engineers data scientists who are either underemployed or unemployed the first few years of kind of launching exceptional met a man in sydney who's got a double degree including a law and business double degree and he was driving a rail

- ([41:33]( replacement bus in the northwest suburbs of sydney and and you know we hear stories like that kind of constantly the other thing that surprises me and often surprises the hiring managers although this is not true in every case but they're often surprised by um how few changes they need to make i spoke before around the perceptions that you know large changes a lot of support is going to need to need to be in place and it's true some candidates are going to require a fair bit of support that's that's a

- ([42:07]( key part of what we do but um our chief technology officer at exceptional who's worked in tech for 20 years commented in his first six eight weeks of exceptional that working at exceptional was no with an entirely autistic team it was no different to working in tech as he had in the last 20 years i.

- ([42:28]( e he's been working with people who whether they know they're autistic or have disclosed um uh-huh um and their ways of working um have kind of normalized that but often employers might make the comment well is that it is that all i need to change and often it's things like provision of noise cancelling headphones the ability to work from home and giving work tasks in a written form so they're they're the they're the things i mean look we get surprises every day but it's hard to sum up five years and five minutes but um but

- ([42:59]( they're they're the main kind of areas yeah okay all right well i feel like i've learned a lot today already so thank you so much um i'm going to talk a little bit about the pilot program that we are offering now so um essentially aaron's shown us now how important it is and how actually easy it can be to hire neurodivergent candidates and that there really is a need for it at the moment so what we're doing so test crit obviously offers a range of different assessments already um but the assessments that

- ([43:36]( exceptional has to offer were designed specifically for neurodivergent candidates by and for so essentially all psychometric assessments are standardized and unbiased but having questions that are written in a way that is going to be more welcoming to neurodivergent candidates is going to help us to attract them more effectively and help to discover key skills and talents that they have and so what we're offering here is a discovery session and an explanation of the process to begin with that's the first phase

- ([44:15]( um and then organizations will have four-week access for up to 200 candidates to be assessed they'll receive a candidate profile for each completed assessment so that's going to detail their results of the assessment and then you'll also receive training on how to interpret exceptional assessment data so this is going to include access to the exceptional technology and the assessments and then also access to exceptional talent pool as well so exceptional work with individuals who are neurodivergent and so this

- ([44:53]( helps to identify those people so that you can employ them as well um so we're partnering and i'm really excited about this because it's been a question that's been asked many many times at test grid is how can we attract neurodivergent candidates and how can we make sure our process is fair for them because we see there's just i mean 80 percent underemployed in the neurodivergent population it's just a ridiculous statistic considering how much they have to offer the workforce so i think this is really important um and

- ([45:23]( we're offering this to five of our customers so feel free to get in touch with us at the end i'll put our contact details up on the screen or get in touch in touch with your csm and have a chat with them about it yeah thanks thanks josie i'll also put some detail around i haven't spoken around the platform that we've built which relies on on puzzles and activities and and is based on the premise of allowing a neurodivergent individual the chance to demonstrate skill uh rather than having to kind of

- ([45:53]( talk about it and and it gives us benchmarks around skills like attention to detail and problem solving um and uh and the candidate profile is a replacement for a cv and you know to our um you know one of one of our uh i guess joys is that is that employers um are accepting that as a replacement to a cv and some really large employers and so that's the first piece of the puzzle in terms of making things more accessible um because often the cvs that that where that we see from your diversion people um they're not making it through the uh

- ([46:29]( through the process they're getting weeded out because often they're pretty sparse in terms of actual experience but if you're looking for potential if you're looking for untapped skills this is this is the way to get it it's about potential not experience yeah yeah and i think often employers talk to us who want to hire people who have done the same job with a different kind of polo shirt on um and yeah and maybe you're going to get that working uh looking at neurodivergent people but chances are you're not

- ([46:58]( um and so it's looking outside that kind of traditional box where the employers on this call know everyone is going after the same pool at the moment and you don't want someone else who's just going to add to the rest of everyone else that you have in your organization you need someone that's different and who's going to bring diverse skills i have to pay them you know what like tens of thousands of dollars more because you're poaching them software engineers sort of thing yeah we've got a comment that's come through

- ([47:30]( did you want me to read that out um you know i can read it out anonymously um yeah sure so um sometimes the people who are doing the hiring find out they might also be neurodivergent um uh this individual has a daughter uh with diagnosed with adhd and created aha moments relating uh to to them thanks for for sharing that um it's interesting we have kind of two groups of two groups but two main kind of areas of candidates we have people who like me i was diagnosed with adhd when i was 12.

- ([48:03]( i couldn't sit still um you know it's kind of hyper focused on certain things and but could hardly read and and still can't fill out online forms or people like this individual who kind of later in life through the diagnosis of a child and we're actually finding it increasingly happening as we work with employers um closely that they're actually finding that it is more prevalent one in seven is that's a big population so it is more prevalent i think the more people understand about neurodiversity understand that about

- ([48:38]( themselves the more inclusive workplaces are going to be so thank you for showing that yeah thank you certainly a bit of an aha moment um we had a bit of a question sent through earlier as well um so we're kind of thinking about what kinds of roles you mentioned it's not only developers yeah but but what kinds of roles are most suited to people who are neurodivergent yeah yeah you heard that news flash here first not all autistic people want to work in tech um so uh i i would answer it this way so yeah at

- ([49:14]( the end we need to help organizations solve talent problems and so i would i would start with areas where um you have the greatest need and that might be technology that might be finance that might be operations um that could be customer service and so we we started off exceptional started off because every small business has to start somewhere with autistic individuals and and software testing really was that was the main thing we've since grown to embrace other areas of neurodiversity and as employers are increasingly asking us for

- ([49:51]( areas like project management creative kind of in industries operations uh finance i've mentioned but as well as looking at you know where you need talent i would also give consideration to the kinds of kind of hiring managers and then how you're going to support the hiring managers i did say that that often it's overestimated the kind of support but we still need people with an open mind who are willing to change things a little bit in order to accommodate so what you're not going to get is you're not going to get all the

- ([50:27]( fantastic skills and the divergent thinking um and people that have done the same job elsewhere and have a university degree and have seven years experience that those kind of unicorns don't exist so as well as looking at the kind of roles we also need to take consideration about the kinds of managers and the environment which is why we don't work with every every kind of employer but we'd certainly provide that support to whoever we'd worked with so to start with where you're hurting and where you need people

- ([50:59]( and then think about the the managers that are involved as well it definitely needs to it needs to be understanding from those different levels in the organization yeah so comments has come through so hr compliance great point project management research analysts um people that are incredibly detailed and and can consume and digest a lot of information um those can be fantastic areas as well looking at skills like areas like adhd and dyslexia um yes like autistic people they're not all the same but often they've got skills

- ([51:36]( that mean that can be fantastic in customer service um sales business development marketing um entrepreneurship things like that yes absolutely any other autistic folk are really good at reading people in many instances too don't underestimate people roles we are great in this area too thanks for that yeah that's um yeah really really true i've really experienced this many times working with autistic folk as well so yeah thank you okay well i feel like um we've definitely touched on a lot of topics

- ([52:18]( today aaron so thank you very much for imparting all your knowledge um i think unless there's any other questions coming through we might might wrap it up and we've got our contact details up on the screen there for any organizations who'd like to get in contact about the pilot um please do that will be excellent um and it'll be great to hear from you because it's a very exciting project so and look josie thank you and i think that i repeat what i said at the start really exciting to be kind of working with you

- ([52:50]( guys you guys are leaders in this field and um you know really with over the last five years you know we've managed to kind of carve out a nation understanding of that intersection between university and employment but really for us to drive mainstream kind of change in terms of those employment underemployment numbers we need to be working with um kind of mainstream uh suppliers and experts such as yourselves and and the um and the employees that you represent so if mountains this is really exciting yeah absolutely

- ([53:23]( all right well thank you very much aaron and thank you everyone for joining today thanks guys thanks guys alrighty we'll um catch you down the track then bye you


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