Opinion  

Neurodiversity has a place in the financial industry

Kathryn Knowles

Kathryn Knowles

Earlier this year I was asked to speak to a couple of people about insurance options for those who are autistic. I met with two women and we sat and had a lovely chat, and they quizzed me as part of their assessment of what the industry has to offer.

During the meeting something kept niggling at the back of my mind.

I was here chatting to two autistic women, and I felt like I identified with them. I had always wondered if I was autistic, but had been laughed off when I had spoken to a medical professional about it when I was younger. After speaking to them, I got a bit of courage back.

So here I am, 36 years old, two weeks on from receiving a diagnosis of autism. My diagnosis would be something that people think of as Asperger's Syndrome, but that is no longer diagnosed as a condition. My feelings? I felt free. 

I am sure some readers will be wondering just how many more things I can be diagnosed with (I do laugh at the long list, but hopefully it will stop soon). I completely see this as a superpower though. I have done well academically and professionally. 

But I am lucky.

My autism has helped me to be where I am, to achieve what I have. I detest exams but I can get through them; I am much more comfortable with written assessments. But what about people who are neurodiverse, brilliant at what they do, but they cannot do exams? Or they are facing barriers because they need to work in a different environment to the 'norm'?

Are we missing out on incredible talent in our industry because we do not cater for minds that work in different ways?

One in eight people are neurodiverse, one in 100 are autistic.

The organisation Group for Autism, Insurance and Neurodiversity (Gain) launched on October 1 and is dedicated to increasing awareness about the benefits of employing a diverse workforce.

For those of you who know me and hopefully respect my work, I hope sharing my diagnosis with you will make you consider the value an autistic person can bring to your organisation.

I strongly recommend taking a look and engaging with Gain, to get their insights on how you could be missing out on an incredible talent pool.

Kathryn Knowles is managing director at Cura Financial Services