Welcome to the NDGiFTS Movement
To build a global community that increases the inclusion and celebration of neurodiversity at work.
Introduction to NDGiFTS Issue One
How can we motivate systemic change within organizations? Change within organizations requires a thoughtful process assessing and refining the whole organization and building in a model of sustainable cultural change. How can we encourage organizations to invest in this change? These are the guiding questions that have defined the creation of the NDGiFTS Movement and this publication. We have brought together over 70 contributors to this project including insight from over 300 conversations with various stakeholders over the last year. Our mission is to prove that nerodiverse individuals are worth the investment from organizations who stand to reap the reward of innovation and the ability to reinvent the future of the organization.
The following publication has three sections, each with different objectives. The first section, The Case for Investing in Neurodiversity, is focused on educating business leaders and the general population on the neurodiversity landscape in the workforce and how neurodivergent interplay with different aspects of organization initiatives. The second section, Voices of Our Community, provides perspectives from our neurodiverse community. You will find a variety of viewpoints, testimonials and guides. These are areas the neurodiverse wants you to be informed. Lastly, we propose a research study aimed at an academic audience. This encompasses our suggestions on studies that can help fuel a PR campaign highlighting the investments necessary to embrace a neurodivergent workforce. We hope this knowledge can inform the way managers and leaders in organizations operate and how we can create environments that allow them to thrive.
Our creation process was as unique as our community members! We had small teams of 2-5 individuals working across the world on each article within this publication. We held group review sessions and team meetings where we discussed some of the more complex and controversial areas. We don’t believe there has ever been something created in this context over a period of eight weeks ever before. It was an amazing process of dedicated, intelligent, and compassionate volunteers/social innovation entrepreneurs.
When over 36 writers and reviewers come together, there will be different approaches and opinions when speaking about populations and circumstances. We encourage you to read with an open heart and understand that all efforts have been made to be sensitive and respectful to different opinions. Our intention is to increase employment and work satisfaction of those that are neurodivergent. We hope we have made you proud.
In this project we address workplace and societal challenges and overlooked opportunities impacting both neurodiverse individuals and organizations. It is important to take into consideration the areas below when discussing how neurodiversity equity and inclusion should be encouraged and supported not only in the workplace, but across multiple environments and demographics.
The neurodivergent individual, when appropriately supported and embraced, brings cultural and economic advantages to organizations (government, nonprofits, and corporations) in the workplace, including creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial energy. We believe that a team that is cognitively diverse will lead to a certain innovative outcome of unquantifiable quantity and quality. To continue advancing workplaces, team processes, and synergies within workplaces would benefit from cognitive diversity. As we discuss below, innovation is going to come from having a group of “creative” thinkers that are diverse in mindset and experiences.
We understand that not all neurodiverse individuals have these capabilities and that there is a large portion of the population that may not align with our report or with the suggested initiatives. Our hope is that employers will reflect on their stakeholders in their workforce to really understand and respond to the emergent opportunities and needs. It is good for business and, besides, what good is it for the economy not to afford opportunities for everyone who desires to work? Let us make the investment in our workplaces to be more welcoming and kinder for everyone, including by empowering neurodiverse individuals to draw on their best of abilities.
Our objective is for readers of this publication to understand the need to fund and implement research projects that will support the business case for making necessary organizational adjustments. You will read from the variety of contributors, many that are neurodiverse themselves, that the current business environment is stifling a significant portion of the workforce. It is time to change.
An important note: regarding this Stanford Business School Rebuild/Embark Innovation Sprint and the Stanford Neurodiversity Project at the Medical School: This Stanford Business Rebuild Innovation Sprint was designed as an eight-week Global Innovation Sprint to develop solutions for the wide range of challenges and opportunities we face as a society as we will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Entrepreneurs and social innovators can collaborate with the Business School's Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. Our Team Rebuilds work ends on August 23. Our short term independent, entrepreneurial project, with a special focus on business organizations, is separate and distinct from the Stanford Neurodiversity Project (SNP) at the Medical School. That project is led by Dr. Lawrence Fung, who has done amazing pioneering work to put Neurodiversity on the World stage. Our Stanford Business Rebuild Sprint Team has its roots in the SNP as the initiator of the Rebuild work was Ronan McGovern, who worked as a Scholar with Lawrence at the SNP last year. Ronan has always taken great care to ensure that ALL our Rebuild work is in alignment with the SNP positive, strengths-based psychology mindset and with the Values, Principles, and Policies of the SNP. In fact, the Rebuild Team has been evolving into a social movement whose work will advance not only the Neurodiversity social justice causes but also Lawrence's SNP. That is the hope and expectation of Ronan, Tiffany, and the Stanford Rebuild Team.
We leave you with some food for thought. We encourage you to embrace the following good and principled business policies for harnessing and developing human talent’s full potential globally. To harness something is to place it in the service of humanity in a sustainable manner. The principled and optimal way to harness the abilities of Human Beings is to care for human beings as part of a social contract / relationship. Wider society has a vested interest in Including Neurodiverse people in its workforces and engaging in full participation in society.
Good and principled business managers and leaders set out to harness both human Talent, including Neurodiverse Talent, and the Earth. Principled business and managers are aware than all talent needs cultivating and that the resources of the earth are limited and need to be cared for. The underlying motive is valuable and worthwhile human achievement. Profit is a measure of success, but it is not the underlying motive.
Good business is itself a fragile undertaking. Just as the earth and humanity cannot be taken for granted, the same is true of the business motive. The “market failure” that is represented by the unemployed and underemployed Neurodiverse potential workforce is an indicator that good and principled business and managers, sometimes – in some areas, “fall short of the ideal”.
Human greed is a perennial reality - unprincipled leaders and managers have no interest in the human potential or dignity of others and see the Earth as an opportunity for exploitation. We need to be especially careful to protect Neurodiverse people who can be more vulnerable to being used.
Human inclinations always need to be kept within bounds and this is not possible without effective government.
Business needs the legal structures designed to protect human rights and dignity and to manage the resources of the Earth - a financial framework of business.
The way in which the business world understands itself, its identity, its purpose and its societal role has a profound and pervasive role to play in shaping the wider culture of humanity. A large proportion of society’s workforce are employed in business enterprises and everyone in society engages with corporates when they buy goods and services. We wish that business would see itself in a way that includes Neurodiverse people within its community,
When business sees itself as simply concerned with ‘business’ the result is a blinkered and complacent society. Where anything other than profit making is dismissed as ‘unreal’, society loses its “soul” and people do become disenchanted and disengaged from society. We have witnessed this happening in relation to historically underrepresented minorities: we want to prevent this happening with Neurodiverse communities.
It is both a political challenge for government and a moral challenge for business leaders to enter into dialogue with wider narratives, such as those offered by communities, such as the Neurodiverse community, religious traditions, so that the underlying motive of good business – worthwhile human achievement – is sustained.
Project Leads: Ronan McGovern, Tiffany Jameson, Susan O’Malley
Correspondence for this publication should be sent to Tiffany@gritandflow.com