How important is neurodiversity to the Fortune 500? 

3 July, 2023, 11:50am GMT

Chloe Mumford

By Chloe Mumford

As the landscape of business continues to evolve, a growing emphasis is being placed on diversity and inclusion initiatives. While progress has been made in addressing gender and racial disparities, another dimension of diversity has garnered increasing attention: neurodiversity. The question at hand is whether Fortune 500 companies are truly embracing and taking neurodiversity seriously. 

For this article, we researched 50 Fortune 500 companies to analyse their neurodiversity initiatives and their efficacy.

We explore the efforts made by these corporate giants to foster a neurodiverse workforce, and the challenges that still need to be addressed. Join us as we uncover the current state of neurodiversity inclusion within the Fortune 500.   

Brief overview 

Neurodiversity is a term that was first introduced 25 years ago by sociologist Judy Singer. It refers to the recognition and acceptance of the natural variations in people’s neurological traits and abilities. It’s an area of Diversity & Inclusion that is often neglected.

A study conducted by Sparta Global reveals that only 21% of respondents worked for businesses that tailor their recruitment practices to neurodivergent candidates, meaning almost four in five have taken no action to promote neuroinclusive hiring practices 

More companies are looking to make neurodiversity a priority, but is this the case for the Fortune 500? We will present our key findings and our interpretation of how much these companies are doing for neurodiversity. 

Key findings 

More companies are hiring neurodiversity specialists 

While multiple companies have a Chief Diversity Officer, one of the things we discovered was that more businesses were hiring neurodiversity specialists to help improve their neurodiversity initiatives. 12% of these companies have a dedicated role with the sole focus on neurodiversity in the business, such as a ‘Global Head of Neurodiversity’. While 12% is not a lot, it represents progress and demonstrates the growing importance of neurodiversity to these companies seeking to reap its rewards, which we’ve summarised in our article 10 Surprising Advantages of Neurodiverse Employees.

Having an individual or a team that can focus on a company’s neurodiversity initiatives can promote significant progress and make a positive change impact for the company, as well as neurodivergent candidates and employees.

JPMorgan Chase is one of the Fortune 500 companies that does this well. They have implemented a Global Head of Neurodiversity, and also have an Office of Disability Inclusion. The company cares about neurodiversity, and ensures that their employees are supported, as presented through their Autism at Work program.

More companies are creating neurodiversity hiring programs 

Traditional recruitment processes often fall short when it comes to accommodating neurodivergent individuals. Adopting tailored recruitment strategies help create a level playing field and provide a fair opportunity for all candidates, regardless of their neurological profiles. Programs targeting the hiring of neurodiverse workers are on the rise, helping thousands of neurodiverse candidates join the workforce. 30% of the companies we researched created or partnered with a neurodiversity hiring program. 30-40% of neurodivergent adults are unemployed, which is three times the rate for people with a disability. These programs have the potential to give neurodivergent people an opportunity to thrive in the workplace where they have the support and accommodation that they need.  

A Fortune 500 company that has done this well is Wells Fargo. Their ‘Wells Fargo Neurodiversity Program’ facilitates a more considerate, accommodating, skills-based hiring model that’s accessible by design. From this hiring program, 225 people accepted offers of employment, 99% of their neurodiversity hires are still employed with them, and over 3,500 of their employees have been trained on the neurodiversity program.

Neurodiversity is not included in all diversity initiatives 

In our research we discovered that a significant number of companies that spoke about diversity in their workplace did not mention neurodiversity. If they do have neurodiversity support in place, it’s not made very clear online. It could be argued that promoting their neurodiversity initiatives openly could offer them a competitive advantage. Neurodivergent candidates might feel incentivised to apply for a role at a company that speaks loud and proud of their support of neurodiversity.

Given that more than 15% of individuals are neurodiverse, companies are missing out on talent by not making candidates aware of their neurodiversity initiatives. And at a time where good quality talent is scarce. this is to their detriment. 

The rise of employee resource groups 

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led groups which aim to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the companies they work for. They have become more popular in recent years, with employee participation in ERGs increasing by 25% between 2015 and 2020 in one multinational financial services company.  

20% of the companies we researched had ERGs created for neurodivergent employees. Employee resource groups give employees a chance to connect with colleagues in similar positions to them, helping to make them feel included and supported by their peers. 

Employers can use these ERGs to develop a deeper understanding of how to support neurodivergent employees,. It creates a space where open conversations can happen, and raise awareness among the employer and managers who need to expand their understanding of the support they need to provide. 65% of employees who participate in ERGs say that these groups positively impact their careers, meaning it’s an investment for both employers and employees. 

AT&T has over 58 Employee Groups (EGs) and Employee Networks (ENs), there will be one for everyone which showcases how inclusive having ERGs can be. A universal workforce means that all employees are supported and having plenty of ERGs can do just that.  

Diversity awards and accreditations 

One of the key findings that stood out to me the most was 8% of companies had won diversity & inclusion awards. Of these 8% of companies, only a half mentioned neurodiversity on their website. While none of these companies won a neurodiversity award or accreditation, it doesn’t mean that they’re not in existence. We’re still in the early days of neuroinclusion, so currently there are not many neurodiversity awards to win.

While the inclusion of neurodiversity in companies’ DE&I efforts is gaining momentum, the measurement of neurodiversity as a specific requirement within those initiatives is still evolving. Currently, many companies focus on broader diversity metrics, such as gender, race, and ethnicity, as they are more easily quantifiable. Some organisations are beginning to implement self-identification surveys or engage in partnerships with neurodiversity advocacy groups to gain insights and establish benchmarks for neurodiversity representation within their workforce. 

Companies and award committees need to expand their understanding of neurodiversity, why it matters and why companies should include it in their DE&I agenda.

Final Thoughts

Overall, a growing number of Fortune 500 companies are adapting more neurodiversity incentives, we’re a long way from where we need to be. The data is promising as 30% of the companies researched work with or created a neurodiversity-friendly hiring program. Additionally, 12% of companies have a dedicated role to neurodiversity, which shows they’re taking steps towards neuroinclusion and what we at the UWI call a universal workforce. Whether you’re a small or large business, there are steps you can take to progress towards inclusion for all. Start small, learn as much as you can on the topic, and don’t create unrealistic expectations.  

It’s important to note, it’s likely that there are neurodivergent individuals already on your team, you just might not know about it. In a study by Sparta Global, 83% of neurodivergent responders reported feeling worried, nervous and fearful about having conversations with their employer regarding their neurodiversity.  

The solution? Educating companies, HR departments and employees on best-practice methods when attracting, hiring, incorporating and supporting neurodivergent talent. 



At the UWI we aim to help organisations develop a universal workforce – a workforce that inspires and builds self-esteem, that embraces diversity, equality and inclusion.  

Get in touch with us today, and we’ll help you to create the mindset, positive habits, behaviours, and tools to create a neuroinclusive workplace.