While the diversity measures such as race, gender, sexual orientation and disability are widely followed among law firms and legal departments, the use of neurodiversity measures as part of their DEI initiatives are currently far behind. While more and more organizations are planning to measure this important category, a recent survey suggests that neurodiversity’s last-place status will remain the case for the foreseeable future.
According to Bloomberg’s law 2021 Legal Operations Survey, 72% of respondents currently have measures to monitor diversity or well-being. Of those 72%, only 17% said their organization monitors neurodiversity – the range of variations in the functioning of the human brain, including (but not limited to) autism spectrum disorders, watch out with hyperactivity (ADHD) and dyspraxia (developmental coordination disorder). Only an additional 12% of those respondents said their organization plans to track neurodiversity in the next 12 months.
Even if every respondent who plans to measure neurodiversity actually does so, the total percentage of follow-up would still be much lower than other IED-related measures currently being tracked. Which begs the question: why does neurodiversity come last? The most likely answer: because she came last.
Neurodiversity is still an emerging field of study and not as much is known about diversity, equity and employer inclusion efforts as we know about factors such as age and race. Many law firms and legal departments may simply, but incorrectly, include neurodiversity in a broader category of “disability” and do not see the two as requiring separate action. Others may not fully understand the spectrum of neurodiversity, or they may not have methodologies in place to measure this metric.
It would be up to employers to implement more neurodiversity monitoring. Neurodiverse employees often perform better and more effectively in certain mathematical and computational tasks, which could be beneficial for the use of legal technology. They can express creative ideas in meetings and present new ways of approaching problem solving that their neurotypical counterparts may have overlooked. To achieve true diversity, tracking this important metric is essential.
Bloomberg law subscribers can find more information about diversity at our Diversity and inclusion practical advice page.
If you are reading this on the Bloomberg terminal, please run BLAW OUT