Businesses need to harness neurodiversity in the technical security workplace to fill skills gap

No one-size-fits all neurodiversity strategy

24 July 2020:   Businesses need to do more to attract and increase the number of neurodiverse people in the workspace to help fill the shortage in cyber security, according to a new report published by CREST, the not-for-profit accreditation and certification body for the technical security industry.

In particular, the report explores how the careers advice and recruitment processes can be more creative, inclusive and tailored for people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder),  Autism, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia and how the workplace environment and culture can be fashioned and improved for neurodiverse people.

With an estimated 10% of the UK population being neurodiverse in some form, employers are missing out on a great deal of talent, as well as giving people opportunities which have often been unobtainable in the past. A link between certain neurological conditions and high performance in technical rolls has long been acknowledged but the report stresses that having a ‘neurodiversity strategy’ should not be a one-size-fits-all initiative and businesses need to listening to people about their needs and how they prefer to operate.

“As a society we’ve put great emphasis on literacy, numeracy, concentration and social interaction  in terms of fundamental skills for the workplace, but the tide is turning as employers recognise they cannot afford to ignore large and previously untapped reservoirs of talent,” said Ian Glover, President of CREST. “Embracing a workplace that offers different thinking styles and approaches to problem solving, and innovation can thrive simply makes good business sense.”

The cyber security industry has already recognised that people on the Autistic spectrum can provide invaluable skills and are often the best performers in technical roles. For example, GCHQ is one of the biggest employers of Autistic people in the UK, while the National Crime Agency (NCA) has revealed that some teenage hackers have been found to be on the Autistic spectrum and are being targeted for recruitment by criminals.

The CREST report was based on a series of interactive workshops and provides a number of recommendations to support the existing neurodiverse workforce, help retain them and to provide assurance to future employees.

The report is one of a set of collaboratively produced diversity related publications produced by CREST. Others in the set include: Stress & Burnout; Gender Balance, and Physical Disability. To download the full report, go to: https://www.crest-approved.org/knowledge-sharing/research-reports-position-papers/index.html

Other sources of support include:
Neurocyber – The Cyber Neurodiversity Group:  https://www.neurocyber.uk/
NAS – National Autistic Society: https://www.autism.org.uk/
CPID – Neurodiversity at work information: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/diversity/neurodiversity-work