A key goal of diversity is to ensure all aspects of cognitive thought are taken into account to enhance decision-making — but not all money managers have included neurodivergence in those efforts.
And by not putting in the work and time necessary to ensure true inclusion for neurodivergent individuals — those with conditions that affect how the brain functions, including autism, dyslexia and ADHD — sources warned that managers may be missing out on talent.
Some money managers are thinking about neurodiversity, with programs and initiatives underway at both industry and individual firm levels. But sources agreed that, in general, disclosure and support for neurodivergent individuals is far behind other areas of diversity in investment management.
"The only true way of evidencing diversity of thought is through the inclusion of neurodiverse individuals, because scientifically neurodiverse brains are wired differently to neurotypical brains," said Jennifer Ockwell, head of institutional at Octopus Investments Ltd. in London. "If your aim — as it should be — is to achieve diversity of thought, then the inclusion of neurodiverse individuals is really important." Octopus has £12.8 billion ($15.4 billion) in assets under management.
While attention must be paid to neurodiversity in the workplace from a moral, ethical and legal point of view, sources highlighted the huge benefits and qualities that neurodivergent individuals can bring to a financial organization.
Maria Hamdani, associate professor of management at the University of Akron, in Akron, Ohio, who studies neurodiversity in the workplace, noted that neurodivergent individuals are often well-suited for the finance industry that requires attention to detail and comfort with numbers. However, it's important not to stereotype neurodivergent individuals, as many thrive in other, more creative industries as well, she said.
Noted Marisa Hall, head of the Willis Towers Watson PLC Thinking Ahead Institute in London: "Obviously there is a human side of this," with true diversity and inclusion translating into fairness, justice and equity.
But along with a values angle, there's also a business case, she said. "You cannot really have one without the other, because otherwise you're box-ticking," she said.