IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Fueling Innovation with Neurodiversity

3rd Element Consulting’s culture of inclusivity is the foundation of the firm’s hypergrowth trajectory. By Dawn Sizer

“HAREBRAINED SCHEMES” is a Teams channel we started at 3rd Element Consulting to encourage out-of-the-box thinking. It’s part of a culture of innovation that we embrace and benefit from, and it’s fueled by our commitment to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce.

DEI has been a driving force for me since I “rage quit” an IT job because of a hostile work environment and started my own firm determined to do things differently. And as the mother of a child, now adult, with autism, it’s important for me to create meaningful employment opportunities for him and other neurodivergent applicants.

Dawn Sizer and her son Connor.

That starts with an interviewing and hiring process that doesn’t automatically eliminate an applicant who is fidgety, doesn’t make eye contact, or gives some odd response to a question. Once you understand those are hallmarks of neurodiversity, you can rephrase the questions, change the way you’re asking the questions, or even change the order in which you’re asking them to get a true sense of the knowledge and skills of the applicant.

Adapting your training is also critical. When my son joined the company five years ago, putting him through our training exposed some holes in our process. We revised it based on how he learns, creating a 90-day onboarding program that we now use for all employees. It has been incredibly successful because it encompasses a variety of learning styles and sets up our workers for success by giving them everything they need to do their job.

The first 30 days of onboarding are quite regimented, so employees know exactly what they will be doing, who they should be interfacing with, who they will be shadowing on a particular day, and what they should be learning. We schedule time for them to train on the programs they need to learn, and then immediately following each training session they shadow someone doing the task they just learned, which reinforces the knowledge.

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