Workplace Inclusion Initiatives and Innovation: the Dyslexic Strengths

We want to lift up the entire dyslexic community! In pursuit of that goal, Dean visited Minnesota this spring and spoke with the inclusion working group at a technology company called JAMF. Like so many organizations facing a competitive marketplace, JAMF depends on innovation to drive the future success of the business. Who will be able to connect the dots and see opportunities and patterns that others might not? The answer is that a neuro-diverse workplace is a competitive advantage.

But sometimes the lack of awareness in the work environment, and the onboarding and training for work can disadvantage or exclude those who will help drive innovation. We’ve entered a post-apprenticeship era, where learning in a hands-on way from experienced mentors is not the norm in the work world. The hyper-specialized fields of study in academia can mislead corporate managers into thinking that students have to spend the famous 10,000 hours of practice achieving results in a narrow arena in order to offer value in the workplace. But as we’re reading about in David Epstein’s book Range, it turns out that the most successful workplaces foster high-functioning employees who exhibit grit and tenacity - and they do that by ensuring a high-quality match between the skills and abilities of the person and their role or function.

So the fundamental message of NoticeAbility for students in middle school also resonates with the challenges facing people with dyslexia in the workplace: know your strengths, build them, and help others be aware of where you might need support. Dean shares his perspective on the dyslexic strengths in this JAMF webinar video, co-hosted by neurodiversity advocate and dyslexic Kelly Offerman, who writes about her experience in the workplace here.

The young people we work with in middle school crave the same validation as employees: that sense of accomplishment which comes from working on things you are really good at and being appreciated by others. We applaud the work of the Workplace Initiative and others on diversity inclusion efforts focused on those who learn differently, and creating pathways for our young people to be successful now and into the future.