From Abandoned to Abundant: How Neurodiversity Revitalizes Organizational Success


Imagine a once-thriving building, now abandoned and decaying, left behind because it failed to embrace change while everything around it evolved. This metaphor starkly represents the fate of organizations that fail to recognize neurodiverse talent as valuable assets and strategic hires. In contrast, companies that embrace neurodiversity and integrate tools like the Authentic Intelligence™ framework* (*definition provided below) become revitalized, bustling hubs of innovation and success. This article explores how neurodiversity-focused departments can transform corporate landscapes and serve as a competitive advantage.

Beyond Employee Resource Groups: The Need for Neurodiversity-Focused Departments

Creating Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for neurodiverse employees is akin to patching cracks in the abandoned building’s facade. To truly unlock the potential of neurodiverse talent and prevent organizational decay, companies need to establish dedicated neurodiversity-focused departments. These departments act as architects of change, ensuring neurodiverse employees are not outliers but integral contributors to the organization’s vision and success.

Benefits of Neurodiversity and Authentic Intelligence in the Workplace

  1. Enhanced Innovation and Problem-Solving: Neurodiverse individuals often excel in specific cognitive areas, providing deep subject matter expertise and innovative problem-solving skills. Research by Scott et al. (2017) highlights how autistic employees at SAP have revitalized software testing processes, enhancing efficiency and reducing errors—akin to restoring a building’s structural integrity.
  2. Improved Emotional and Social Dynamics: Emotional mastery, a key component of Authentic Intelligence, can be particularly strong among neurodiverse individuals. Studies by Armstrong (2010) indicate that people with ADHD often possess high levels of creativity and empathy, contributing positively to team dynamics—similar to bringing warmth and life back into an abandoned space.
  3. Strategic Intuition and Insight: Neurodiverse individuals can access intuitive insights that drive strategic decision-making. Dyslexic leaders, for instance, are known for their ability to see the big picture and identify innovative solutions, as noted in a study by Logan (2009). This visionary approach is like installing new windows that let in light, illuminating the path forward.

Implementing Neurodiversity-Focused Departments

To effectively integrate neurodiversity into the organizational fabric and avoid becoming obsolete, companies should consider the following steps:

  1. Leadership Commitment: Senior leaders must champion neurodiversity initiatives, demonstrating commitment through actions and resources. This includes appointing neurodiversity officers or creating executive positions focused on neurodiversity—like hiring a skilled foreman to oversee the renovation project.
  2. Tailored Recruitment and Onboarding: Develop recruitment strategies that actively seek neurodiverse talent. Partner with organizations that specialize in neurodiverse placements and ensure that onboarding processes are tailored to meet the unique needs of neurodiverse employees, much like carefully selecting and fitting new materials to restore an old building.
  3. Inclusive Work Environments: Create workspaces that accommodate sensory sensitivities and other specific needs of neurodiverse individuals. Implement flexible work arrangements and provide assistive technologies as needed, akin to installing modern amenities in a historic structure.
  4. Continuous Education and Training: Offer regular training for all employees on the value of neurodiversity and the principles of Authentic Intelligence. Encourage ongoing learning and development to foster an inclusive culture, similar to ongoing maintenance to preserve the building’s renewed vitality.
  5. Performance Metrics and Accountability: Establish metrics to track the success of neurodiversity initiatives. Regularly review and adjust strategies based on feedback and performance data to ensure continuous improvement, much like conducting regular inspections to ensure the building remains in top condition.


Embracing neurodiversity and integrating the Authentic Intelligence™ framework can prevent organizations from becoming like abandoned buildings—outdated and irrelevant. By establishing neurodiversity-focused departments, companies can unlock the full potential of neurodiverse talent, ensuring they remain vibrant and competitive. This strategic approach not only drives innovation and problem-solving but also fosters a more inclusive and dynamic workplace culture. As the business world continues to evolve, organizations that recognize and leverage the strengths of neurodiverse individuals will stand as beacons of progress and success.

Definition of Authentic Intelligence™ (AQ)

Authentic Intelligence is the unique ability to harmoniously blend cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, and intuitive inspiration. This means operating rationally, emotionally, and intuitively all at once, fully engaging all aspects of consciousness.

An authentically intelligent person possesses:

  • Subject Matter Expertise: Deep knowledge and understanding of their field.
  • Emotional Mastery: The skills to recognize and manage both their own emotions and those of others.
  • Intuitive Insight: The ability to access and operate from an optimal version of oneself, focusing on goals in a way that serves humanity rather than self-interest.

About the Author:

Kathleen O’Grady, CEO of Authentic Leadership Advisors, and founder of the Authentic Intelligence™ Framework and Coaching Model, brings nearly 20 years of coaching expertise to top executives, nonprofit leaders, and entrepreneurs. Kathleen’s groundbreaking work in coaching and neurodiversity, along with her extensive experience working with creatives and innovators, has solidified her reputation as a transformative leader in the field. As a Master Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation, Kathleen ranks #1 in USA Today’s Top 10 International Coaches, recognized globally for her transformative methods.

Case Studies and Research Support

  • SAP’s Autism at Work Program: This initiative has shown that autistic employees excel in roles requiring high attention to detail and pattern recognition, leading to increased innovation and efficiency (Scott et al., 2017)—reinvigorating the company’s core functions.
  • EY’s Neurodiversity Centers of Excellence: These centers focus on leveraging the strengths of neurodiverse employees to drive innovation in data analytics and cybersecurity, demonstrating the business value of neurodiversity (Ernst & Young, 2018)—akin to a state-of-the-art addition to a classic structure.
  • Logan’s Study on Dyslexic Entrepreneurs: This research highlights how dyslexic individuals’ ability to think holistically and intuitively contributes to entrepreneurial success (Logan, 2009)—like an inspired architectural redesign that transforms an old building.


Armstrong, T. (2010). The Power of Neurodiversity: Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain. Da Capo Lifelong Books.

Logan, J. (2009). Dyslexic Entrepreneurs: The Incidence; Their Coping Strategies and Their Business Skills. Dyslexia, 15(4), 328-346.

Scott, M., Falkmer, M., Girdler, S., & Falkmer, T. (2017). Viewpoints on Factors for Successful Employment for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. PLOS ONE, 12(5).

Ernst & Young. (2018). Neurodiversity Centers of Excellence. EY Global.

Sample Job Description

Job Title: Chief Neurodiversity Officer

Location: [Company Location]

Department: Human Resources / Diversity and Inclusion

Reports To: Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

About Us:

[Company Name] is a forward-thinking organization committed to fostering an inclusive and innovative workplace. We recognize the unique strengths and perspectives that neurodiverse individuals bring to our team, and we are dedicated to creating an environment where everyone can thrive. To support this mission, we are seeking a dynamic and visionary Chief Neurodiversity Officer to lead our neurodiversity initiatives and drive strategic inclusion efforts.

Position Overview:

The Chief Neurodiversity Officer (CNO) will be responsible for developing, implementing, and overseeing neurodiversity-focused strategies and programs that promote an inclusive workplace culture. This role will champion the value of neurodiversity, ensuring that neurodiverse employees are recognized as strategic assets and are provided with the support and opportunities they need to succeed.

Key Responsibilities:

Strategic Leadership:

  • Develop and execute a comprehensive neurodiversity strategy aligned with the company’s mission and business objectives.
  • Collaborate with senior leadership to integrate neurodiversity initiatives into overall diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts.

Program Development and Implementation:

  • Design and implement programs and policies that support the recruitment, retention, and professional development of neurodiverse employees.
  • Establish neurodiversity-focused departments or centers of excellence within the organization.

Employee Support and Advocacy:

  • Advocate for neurodiverse employees, ensuring they have access to necessary resources, accommodations, and career development opportunities.
  • Foster a supportive and inclusive workplace culture that values and leverages neurodiverse perspectives.

Training and Education:

  • Develop and deliver training programs to educate all employees on the value of neurodiversity and how to create an inclusive environment.
  • Provide ongoing coaching and support to managers and teams working with neurodiverse employees.

Partnership and Outreach:

  • Build partnerships with external organizations, educational institutions, and advocacy groups to support neurodiversity initiatives.
  • Represent the company at industry events, conferences, and forums on neurodiversity and inclusion.

Metrics and Reporting:

  • Establish metrics to measure the success and impact of neurodiversity initiatives.
  • Regularly report on progress and outcomes to senior leadership and other stakeholders.


  • Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources, Psychology, Business Administration, or a related field (advanced degree preferred).
  • Minimum of 10 years of experience in diversity and inclusion, HR, or related roles, with at least 5 years focused on neurodiversity or disability inclusion.
  • Demonstrated experience developing and implementing strategic D&I programs and initiatives.
  • Strong understanding of neurodiversity and the unique needs and strengths of neurodiverse individuals.
  • Excellent communication, leadership, and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with cross-functional teams and influence at all levels of the organization.
  • Passion for promoting an inclusive and equitable workplace culture.

Why Join Us:

At [Company Name], we believe that diversity drives innovation and success. As the Chief Neurodiversity Officer, you will have the opportunity to shape the future of our organization, making a lasting impact on our culture and business outcomes. Join us in our mission to create a workplace where everyone can thrive and contribute their unique strengths.

How to Apply:

Interested candidates are invited to submit their resume and a cover letter detailing their experience and vision for neurodiversity inclusion at [Company Name] to [email address].

[Company Name] is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees.