Most of the world is built for people with neurotypical brains. But those of us with ADHD are considered neurodivergent - meaning our brains process and learn things differently from what is considered "typical.”
These differences can create challenges for people with ADHD, especially in a neurotypical-centric workplace, where schedules are the commandments and multitasking is the norm. It’s like trying to fit a jigsaw puzzle piece into a Sudoku grid. It’s not jus a matter of being in the wrong puzzle; we’re playing a totally different game!
Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to navigate these challenges and have a successful, thriving career with ADHD. And while we can often manage to make some adjustments on our own, a company that actively works with its employees to find solutions makes the path so much smoother!
In this post, we’ll talk about what it means to be ADHD-friendly and what clues to look for in a company you’re considering applying to. Plus, we’ve got examples of real companies that are actively seeking neurodiverse candidates.
What Does It Mean To Be ADHD-Friendly?
In general, ADHD-friendly means something is easier for someone with ADHD to use or engage with by removing barriers we might otherwise face. (As a bonus, making something more ADHD-friendly usually makes it easier for everyone to use or engage with.)
According to CHADD, Some of the most common barriers and challenges we neurospicy folks encounter at work include:
- Poor Memory
- Time management
- Difficulty managing long-term projects
- Interpersonal/social skill issues
So, an ADHD-friendly workplace is one that proactively takes steps to mitigate these challenges, and/or is open to making reasonable changes and adjustments (aka, accommodations) that would make it easier for people with ADHD to be successful at work.
4 Clues To Look For (And Where To Find Them)
To get a sense of whether a company is neurodiversity-friendly:
- 📋 Assess Their Application Process. Is the job description easy to read, with headings and bullet points? Is the assessment process clearly outlined? Do they provide interview questions in advance, or allow asynchronous video answers to interview questions (with multiple attempts allowed)?
- 📱 Check Their Socials. You may find posts on the company’s social media that could provide clues into not just how they view neurodiversity, but their culture as a whole. Do employees at the company engage in the company’s social posts, or are they eerily silent?
- 💬 Reach Out! Reach Out! Reach Out! LinkedIn and cold outreach are your best friends. Talk to people at the company. There is no better reflection of company culture than the employees themselves. See how comfortable and at ease you feel. Ask yourself Do I see myself happy here?
- 🌐 Check Company Website. Look into their mission and values. Read up on their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Practices. Validate their accountability and commitment to inclusion through research.
As you do your digging, here are a few more things to look out for:
- Is there opportunity for remote work and/or flexible hours and start times
- Do they provide clear, frequent feedback?
- Is there regular break time or opportunity for movement?
- What is the onboarding and training process like? Are there a ton of long videos or manuals to read, or are things broken into short, digestible chunks with clear learning objectives?
- Do they provide access to professional coaching, or are they open to providing ADHD coaching?
- If you are able to tour, or find pictures of the workspace, is it open or are there cubicles, offices, or other work spaces to reduce distraction?
Examples of ADHD-Friendly Employers
In recent years, more and more employers are noticing the advantages of hiring neurodiverse job candidates. In fact, here are a few examples:
- Goldman Sachs started a paid 8-week internship for neurodiverse people in 2019, and started a neurodiversity hiring initiative.
- In April 2021, Ernst & Young launched their Neuro-Diverse Center of Excellence to make hiring, onboarding, and training easier for neurodiverse candidates.
- IBM’s diversity and inclusion page highlights “DiversAbility,” saying they champion neurodiverse individuals, saying, “IBM is dedicated to hiring, supporting, educating and embracing people of all abilities.”
- JPMorgan Chase & Co changed their interview process to include gamified skill assessments that help match candidates to roles.
- Microsoft has a Neurodiversity Hiring Program focused on attracting neurodivergent candidates.
- Willis Towers Watson (WTW) began an autism hiring initiative in 2014.
- In 2013, SAP began hosting what is now an internationally-recognized Autism at Work program operating in 12 countries.
You can find more examples of companies actively promoting neurodiversity here, or check out the Neurodiversity Round Table through Disability: IN, a collection of companies committed to neurodiversity-focused hiring initiatives.