Diversity  

New initiative to champion neurodiversity in finance

New initiative to champion neurodiversity in finance

Financial services specialists have joined forces with experts across the world of neurodiversity to champion this aspect of the diversity agenda.

Called Gain - the Group for Autism, Insurance & Neurodiversity - the initiative has been launched to promote greater understanding of neurodiverse individuals, and to recognise the great potential for neurodiversity in the insurance, investment and wider financial services industry.

According to insurance industry veteran Johnny Timpson, a disability champion and one of Gain's steering committee: "While we are all neurodiverse, one in seven of us are neurodivergent, and one in 100 of us has an autism spectrum disorder.

"It is for this reason that a number of people across the industry have collaborated to found Gain as a not-for-profit hub to aid insurance, investment, pension and mortgage firms and colleagues to acquire the information, knowledge, skills they need to better support neurodiverse customers and colleagues."

Financial services, in particular, has been a place where too few neurodiverse individuals have entered the workplace or reported positive job satisfaction.

Gain believes that the industry could benefit greatly from the skills that neurodiverse individuals often excel in, such as a methodical approach to tasks, a strong attention to detail, alternative creative thinking as well as looking at situations from a different perspective.

The new campaign group therefore seeks to create opportunities for autistic and neurodivergent people to engage in rewarding work, by helping business leaders to recognise the benefits of building a diverse workforce to meet the growing need for talent.

Open to everyone in financial services, Gain works with and trains directors and managers to understand how to recognise and harness the strengths neurodiverse individuals bring to the workplace.

Diversity training

Over the past few years, MetLife has been championing neurodiversity in its workplace. In 2020, the provider won several accolades at FTAdviser's Diversity In Finance Awards, partly based on MetLife’s work with Genius Within, which helps arrange neurodiversity training for managers and provides support to employees diagnosed with autism and ADHD.

But more widely, neurodivergent individuals face barriers to working, particularly as they often experience the world differently to others in social, education and workplace environments.

People who are neurodiverse can, but not exclusively, include people living with conditions such as autism, dyslexia, ADHD and dyspraxia. The autistic community in the UK demonstrates a largely untapped source of growth and opportunity for employers.

Although one in every 100 people in the UK have an autism diagnosis, only 21.7 per cent of autistic adults access full-time and paid employment.

Of those who do work, job satisfaction is over 20 per cent lower than the national average, with problems including colleague stigma, poor career support and jobs that do not match their skills.

Barbara Schonhofer, co-chairperson of Gain, said: “Business life is constantly changing and is no longer quite so predictable.