Around 20% of the world’s population are thought to be neuroatypical. Their cognitive profile means they process information differently or see the world differently. When encouraged, these different styles of problem-solving can contribute positively to society. Knowing that neurodiverse teams can improve their business performance, today’s leading companies are putting in place dedicated inclusion programs.
Here’s an overview of Orange’s actions, highlighting our what we’re doing to promote neurodiversity in the workplace
What is neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity, like biodiversity, refers to the infinite variations, but this time in the human brain and cognition, proving great minds think differently. It encompasses people with a widespread cognitive profile as well as more minority cognitive abilities – neuroatypical – and conveys the idea that diversity in thought processes offers special talents and often unrecognized strengths.
This cognitive profile may include:
- Various “dys” conditions (such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, dysorthography, and dyscalculia for example)
- High intellect potential (HIP)
- Attention deficit (with or without hyperactivity)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or Tourette's syndrome.
Each presents different challenges that should be addressed but also strengths in terms of special reasoning and interaction abilities that can add value to the workplace. Some people display several of the characteristics above, some of which are acknowledged health conditions or disabilities (sometimes invisible) that should be supported by a policy that recognizes the status of disabled workers (RQTH).
Multi-skilled talent is a business asset
Few companies take neurodiversity into account. Diversity policies rarely include specific guidance adapted to neuroatypical profiles, which can lead to discrimination: 85% of people with cognitive differences in France face long-term unemployment, with their talent going to waste.
Work environments tend to be designed for the neurotypical, which can present obstacles and diminish the well-being of people with an atypical way of behaving or thinking.
Some Anglosphere companies are beginning to change and recognize that recruiting neurodiverse talent actually boosts performance. The ability to “think outside the box”, when combined with conventional thinking, can stimulate innovation, identify what might not be working so well within a company and design original solutions. It has been proven within the IT community, for example, that a diverse team leads to a greater number of patent applications, innovation, and development.
It has been proven that embedding neurodiversity into a company’s employee inclusion policy boosts social and economic performance.
That’s why tech companies are now recruiting from this untapped resource, acknowledging that people with autism, for example, have excellent memories and greater attention to detail for programs such as data analysis.
How do you promote cognitive diversity in the workplace?
Recognizing cognitive diversity is the first step to putting in place a proactive neurominority policy. Raising awareness is also important, as are adapted recruitment processes, open spaces and working hours that are carefully designed to respect people’s different wants and needs. Like any inclusion initiative, this enriches the employee experience for everyone.
How Orange commits to inclusion
As part of a long-term commitment to a proactive CSR policy, we have several agreements and initiatives in place to promote diversity and inclusion. In April 2021, neurodiversity was incorporated into our equal opportunities policy through the Neuroteam program and we’re now enriching our approach by including our ambitions and priorities into a specific Manifesto.».
At Orange, we want to give everyone in all their uniqueness the means to reach their potential and contribute fully to the company’s development. That’s why neurodiversity is a key focus of our equal opportunities policy, alongside age, ethnic or national origin, beliefs, disability, sexual orientation, and gender equality.
Neuroteam: the Orange program dedicated to cognitive diversity cognitive
Launched to mark the Orange Foundation’s 30th anniversary in April 2021, the Neuroteam program is the Group’s new initiative to make cognitive diversity an asset for workplace performance and well-being within the business. Sponsored by our CSR and HR functions, Neuroteam facilitates collaboration within teams, to limit the biases and stereotypes of neurotypical and atypical people, recruit new talent, and think differently about innovation.
With an international scope, the multidisciplinary program brings together volunteer employees from across the Group including members of the Z’Atypiques employee community and representatives from all business functions.
Led by the Diversity and Inclusion team, the ambition is to transform ways of working and share experiences and update our policy to increase the recruitment, onboarding, and retention of neurodiverse teams.
Our emblematic activities
Working groups are now looking at recruitment processes, management, raising awareness within teams (particularly workplace prevention and well-being), and communication. It’s important that as many people as possible come on board to contribute to this complex subject area and break down barriers such as bias and stereotypes.
We’ve also enriched self-diagnosing inclusive management techniques with questions on neurodiversity. Employees also have the opportunity to take an online training course to better understand the collective strength of neurodiversity within the workplace.
What’s more, we’ve trained recruiters to integrate cognitive diversity into recruitment processes, starting with internship campaigns (more than 2,000 vacancies a year).
We believe in the power of partnerships to create positive impact and therefore belong to several international coalitions including the International Labor Organization, the SAP Autism Pledge, the GSMA, and The Valuable500, and we are proud founding member of Neurodiversity in Business created in the UK.
The Orange Foundation is committed to helping people with autism and their families
30 years of commitment to people with autism spectrum disorders and their families.
Since 1991, the Orange Foundation has been the only corporate foundation to make autism a key focus of its philanthropy (…) In three decades, €30 million has been provided to support more than 2,350 projects in Europe and Africa, including more than 200 research programs, 1,450 reception facilities and 24 inclusive housing initiatives. Every year, 3,500 people benefit from the support of the Orange Foundation in the autism sector.