Jenny Baker / Friday, March 24, 2023 / Categories: TIP, 2023, 604 The Bridge: Connecting Science and Practice Apryl Brodersen, Metropolitan State University of Denver; Sarah Layman, DCI; Erika Morral, Indeed; & Jen Harvel, Amazon “The Bridge: Connecting Science and Practice” is a TIP column that seeks to help facilitate additional learning and knowledge transfer to encourage sound, evidence-based practice. It can provide academics with an opportunity to discuss the potential and/or realized practical implications of their research as well as learn about cutting-edge practice issues or questions that could inform new research programs or studies. For practitioners, it provides opportunities to learn about the latest research findings that could prompt new techniques, solutions, or services that would benefit the external client community. It also provides practitioners with an opportunity to highlight key practice issues, challenges, trends, and so forth that may benefit from additional research. In this issue, Kelsie Colley, Ludmila Praslova, Tiffany Jameson, Annika Benson, Tracy Powell-Rudy, and Tracey Todd Staley provide a review of the current state of research/practice regarding neurodiversity in the workplace. They highlight how I-O can help organizations understand the benefits and moral imperative for advocating for the representation, understanding, flourishing, and belonging of neuroatypical individuals in the experience of work. The goal of their column is to shed light on gaps between neurodiversity practice and research and inspire readers to take steps of all sizes to bridge it. The Power of Partnership: Intentionally Building the Neurodiversity Science–Practice Bridge Kelsie Colley, Ludmila Praslova, Tiffany Jameson, Annika Benson, Tracy Powell-Rudy, and Tracey Todd Staley Note: The viewpoints of the authors are their own and not the viewpoint of their respective companies and/or university affiliation. As an authorship team, we believe there is a significant opportunity for I-O psychologists to help bridge the gap between science and practice of neurodiversity. In this article, we provide a brief review of the current state of the bridge between science and practice regarding neurodiversity in the workplace. We then introduce an award-winning science–practice collaboration case study that demonstrates ways I-O psychologists can help employers move toward better understanding of neurodiversity. Finally, we suggest ways for how readers, including SIOP members, consultants, academics, and allies can help bridge the disconnect between science and practice. Current State of Research and Practice The authorship team agrees that we as a field are conceptually aware of neurodiversity. However, we lack understanding of what constitutes neuroatypicality or neurodivergence, and how neurodiversity lived experiences, not just neurotypical research on the community, are related to organizational outcomes and can inform and expand the field (Praslova, 2021b). Moreover, neurodivergent talent is pigeonholed into specific occupations (e.g., autism and technology), ignoring the full range of abilities within neurodivergent communities (Dwyer, 2022; Praslova et al., in press). The intention to get support for buy-in is good, but the impact or unintended narrative could be damaging (see Benson et al., in press for more). At the 2022 SIOP Annual Conference, among the 100 diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) submissions (Oki et al., 2022), there were three neurodiversity related sessions, whereas in 2021 there was only one, demonstrating slight growth. However, generally speaking, we believe I-O is behind the trend. Some argue that practice, especially within the autistic community, is far ahead of our literature in I-O psychology. Others echo this sentiment and even argue the gap is not improving but growing (Doyle & McDowall, 2021). It may be the case that our field is gaining momentum in DEI broadly (e.g., Lindsay et al., 2019), or that neurodiversity is getting more attention (e.g., Bruyère & Colella, 2022), but neglecting to take into consideration the neuroatypical experience. As an exception to this trend, we share a science–practice collaboration case study that demonstrates how I-O psychologists can lead the charge in advancing market products, inclusion, and equity for neurotypical individuals. This research was a finalist in the 2022 Association for Business Psychology Awards for Excellence in Inclusive Assessment and won Top Poster at SIOP’s Annual Conference in 2022. A Case Study: HireVue, Integrate, and Colorado State University (CSU) There are very real barriers within commonly applied selection procedures that have unintentional consequences and unnecessarily block autistic job seekers from getting jobs that they are otherwise qualified to do. HireVue draws on industry best practices to deliver structured, asynchronous video interview (AVI) assessments to job candidates. Senior I-O psychologist at HireVue, Colin Willis, uses his expertise as a consultant and researcher to champion for equity within modern assessment practices. Integrate Autism Employment Advisors (Integrate) is a nonprofit organization that helps workplaces identify, recruit, and retain professionals (typically college graduates) on the autism spectrum. CSU’s I-O psychology’s research lab, led by Joshua Prasad, includes a research team with autistic individuals and is committed to advancing neurodiversity empirical work. Interviewing is one of the most common methods, but it is unnecessarily challenging for autistic candidates. HireVue, Integrate, and CSU have partnered to study how autistic job candidates and general population post-undergraduate job candidates perform on a real, algorithmically scored, interview-based assessment used for screening candidates. The published and disseminated work from this team is novel as it studies real-world candidates’ prehire assessments and can directly impact selection tools, practice, and outcomes for autistic job seekers (see Willis et al., 2021). This is a great example of a partnership between research and practice. It included subject matter experts across several domains—I-O psychologists from academia, I-O psychologists employed in the corporate space, and employer-focused practitioners from the consulting space—all with the shared purpose of driving neuroinclusive practices. This cross collaboration facilitated the sharing of expertise of both neurotypical and neurodivergent individuals, thereby bridging the gap between those two groups and between science and practice. In summary, this case study included several strengths that helped support the closing the science–practice gap: Partnership between domain experts, researchers, and practitioners Collaboration between autistic and other neuroatypical contributors Demonstrated how change can be achieved to a workplace, product, or service Disseminated findings in an open-science source conferences, and podcasts Experiences From Science and Practice To further support bridging the gap, the following section highlights individual author experiences regarding neurodiversity research and practice. Each author provides a unique perspective by sharing individual experiences, ideas, and areas of opportunities. Ludmila Prasolva, Vanguard University of Southern California and Harvard Business Review Although I represent an academic perspective as an organizational psychology professor, I am also a neurodiversity inclusion activist with decades of lived experience including neurodiversity-based discrimination (Praslova, 2021b). Unfortunately, much of the existing research is rooted in the pathology model and uses assumptions and terminology rejected by the community: high and low functioning, person-first language, pathologizing of autistic honesty while normalizing allistic dishonesty, interventions that have the potential to harm, and occupational pigeonholing (Praslova 2021c; Praslova et al., in press). Connecting research and practice is not enough. Both must also be connected to the neurodivergent community (Bernard et al., in press). Hence, I’ve been using my academic knowledge, my lived experience as a late-diagnosed autistic, and my love of writing to help connect both the voice of research and the voice of lived experience with the business community by publishing in Harvard Business Review and Fast Company. I am also writing a book that expands on my model for systemic and intersectional neurodiversity inclusion in the workplace that addresses both access barriers, such as hiring biases, and success barriers, such as biases in promotion and the lack of antibullying and antiharassment mechanisms (Praslova, 2022a,c). I would love to see more work by teams in which researchers and practitioners, including members of neurodivergent communities, determine research questions, interpret the results, and outline appropriate application (Bernard et al., in press). Centering the neurodivergent community may require a good deal of cultural humility from neurotypical researchers and practitioners, but it would also ensure most useful research and practice. Tiffany Jameson, LinkedIn Learning and grit & flow As inclusion consultants, my team at grit & flow focuses on revising organizations' processes, procedures, and norms to increase the inclusion of all. One key area we focus on is neurodivergent talent. As organizational psychologists, we have found that research on neurodivergent inclusion has predominantly focused on autism and the hiring process (Dreaver et al., 2020; McKnight-Lizotte, 2018). The challenge we see in practice is ensuring a solid person–environment–job fit (Waisman-Nitzan et al., 2020) in collaboration with addressing the job demands (Meijman & Mulder, 2013) necessary for longevity and workplace thriving. Intentional hiring is only one step in the success of embracing neurodivergent workers. Supporting neurodivergent employees once they join an organization requires a conscious focus on enhancing current organizational practices. Examples of this include training line-managers on communication techniques that embrace different types of learners such as using video, checklists, and written instructions. Also, there is a significant need to train managers and coworkers on giving concise instructions, avoiding the use of idioms, and establishing regular check-ins with team members to catch any potential miscommunications. These are some examples of enhancing organization practices to embrace neurodivergent workers that go beyond an emphasis on selection and must be further explored by science. True acceptance requires making behavioral changes in an organization to ensure person–job–environment fit and adjusting processes to embrace various learning styles. Our challenge is that our clients want a playbook or a set formula for neurodivergent inclusion. However, every environment is unique, requiring a toolbox of best practices to be called upon while working to increase neurodivergent inclusion. There needs to be more research-based evidence on what practitioners consider to be best practices. For now, grit & flow has relied on other organizational psychology-based tools to help create an individual organization's toolbox of best techniques. When working with businesses, we often must break the organizations' social norms and rebuild them using a neurodiversity lens. Client engagements rarely offer controlled environments for experimental research, and our consulting presence usually involves balancing the business environment with multiple priorities and stakeholders. But, even with competing priorities, we can base intervention on research. Within our client's environment, we can define and measure the success of our interventions with the line managers and other stakeholders using time series quasi-experiment designs (McDowall et al., 1980). Measuring before intervention can help identify which interventions are best for changing the landscape for neurodivergent talent. Tracey Todd Staley, Autism Society of America and Spirax-Sarco Engineering With my work at the Autism Society of America, we see numerous pain points from our organizational partners. For example, I frequently hear how neuroatypical behaviors get in the way of individual success in the workplace. Although it should not be the full burden of the neuroatypical individual to “fit” into neurotypical expectations, it may be beneficial for some to receive coaching or training on how to communicate at work. However, this is only half of the picture. Workplaces need to have the policies, programs, and cultures to support neurodiversity. It would be ideal to look to science to understand how these two dynamic pieces should fit together to best serve the neuroatypical employee and the organization. Sometimes we can access open-source science that directly helps bridge the gap (e.g., Seitz & Smith, 2016). However, organizations like ours typically do not have access to peer-reviewed publications. Instead, we rely on our experiences and other platforms like Harvard Business Review (HBR) or LinkedIn. If societies and supportive organizations had standing relationships with academics, we could rely on them to point us in the right direction and build a mutually beneficial partnership. My experience as an HR leader is that it is typically not job or task-related concerns that impact the employee experience for neuroatypical folks. Instead, it is typically centered around social and communication events. Specific issues might include miscommunication, lack of communication, fear of raising an issue or asking for help, and expectations that neuroatypical candidates must fit into an existing culture. Often these are issues that can easily be addressed by educating coworkers about neurodiversity, improving communication skills for all employees, and building trust with employees so they feel comfortable identifying their needs. Research looking into neurodiversity could help drive research-based human resources and help internal groups like people analytics structure their internal research to ensure that the employee experience is equitable for all. Specifically, I’d like to see science-based insights to make the workplace more accessible and inclusive for neuroatypical people. To summarize, if we make the workplace more accepting of neuroatypical employees, it becomes more accepting of all employees. Tracy Powell-Rudy, Integrate Autism Employment Advisors I would like to reinforce that change starts with awareness that the existing (in this case employment) practices or beliefs are inherently limiting, inappropriate, or problematic. To make any progress and, more specifically, to get research-driven practices into organizations, those organizations need to recognize that there is an issue/problem requiring a solution, and they must see value in collaborating. Many people still do not realize how certain recruiting practices may inadvertently weed out neurodivergent talent. For example, marathon interview “superdays” or unstructured interviews that focus on interpersonal skills, which are not necessarily a prereq for every job, can be discriminating. Similarly, job descriptions that list 10 requirements that, when taken literally, may result in a viable autistic candidate self-selecting out. Candidates that are successfully able to navigate the myriad challenges in the recruiting process and are hired are often terminated not because of performance issues but because of a lack of ability to understand the hidden curriculum (i.e., those unstated rules that allow us to “fit in.”) However, once a manager is more aware of their own communication style and its impact on neurodivergent talent, they can, when coming from a place of intention, be more effective managers. And to truly impact the under- and unemployment rates for this population, these changes in processes and practices need to be sustainable, meaning that the corporate culture must undergo a transformation. The good news is that more neurodivergent candidates are getting hired and staying hired as more companies are making neuroinclusion an explicit goal and/or are starting neuroinclusive hiring programs. But do we know what specific actions are leading to success? How do we define it? What are the metrics for it? There is very little, if any, research that specifically measures and reports on program (specifically corporate autism hiring initiatives) impact. We do not know what activities are truly facilitating long-term organizational culture and employee experience changes within companies who have programs specific to autism. We can do that by involving more I-O psychologists in the process when designing employment programs from start to finish. Coming up with metrics for success, tracking employee and manager performance over time, sharing best practices, and using solid, accepted, proven I-O practices in partnership with specific case studies will allow for effective efforts and continued success. Next Steps to Bridge the Gap Building off the success of the case study above and the authorship teams lived experiences, individual research streams, and perspectives on imperatives for closing the science and practitioner gap in the area of neurodiversity, we generated the following list of ideas for next steps to advance the understanding, practice, and inclusion of neuroatypical experiences. Note that, though our recommendations are split up between different domains, we feel strongly that none can be accomplished in silos. Ideas for advocacy groups or professional groups: Promote a research-based, intersectional strategy when it comes to understanding neurodiversity and work. Leverage your network to help bridge the gap. Creating research-to-practice collaborations can be challenging. Professional networks can promote social networking to improve knowledge of others’ work and expertise. If you are interested in forming a research-practice partnership, share it! Post about it on your website or social media pages, reach out to universities studying topics of interest. Familiarize yourself with open-science sources such as: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: Volume 41 https://www.emerald.com/insight/publication/issn/2040-7149/vol/41/iss/3 “Annual Research Review: Shifting from ‘normal science’ to neurodiversity in autism science.” https://acamh.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcpp.13534 Ideas for SIOP: Reach out and ask other organizations what they want to learn/know more about. Sample questions could include: What do you wish you had more information about? Consider stages of the employee lifecycle and barriers to access and success (Praslova, 2022c). Where do you lack resources for neuroinclusion support? Where might you have barriers? Invite researchers with lived experience review or contribute to work on neurodiversity topics (Bernard et al., in press). Support open-science publications which allows for an increase in accessibility between science and practice. A “practical implications” section is not enough if those in practice cannot access it. Diversify leadership boards so that (a) neuroinclusive representation exists (Praslova, 2021c), and (b) practitioners are equally valued. Set standards and best practices for neuroinclusive graduate training programs and advising styles. Ideas for research avenues currently underexplored: Masking/cloaking/camouflaging: How do these behaviors compare or relate to impression management, emotional labor, cognitive load, and perceived fit? Exploring gender differences: There are frequent gender differences when men and women are considered. How can we better understand this but also expand this to the full spectrum of gender and gender identities? Focusing on other areas of the employment life cycle beyond hiring and selection processes. Considering using qualitative and mixed methods to incorporate multiple stakeholders, work roles, and industries by capturing the lived experiences of the interventions and practices that increased inclusion and those that did not. Leaning into empirical program evaluation. We do not know what activities are truly facilitating long-term organizational culture and employee experience changes within companies who have programs specific to neurodivergent employees. Reviewing current language surrounding the population to ensure that you are not using ableist language in your writing (see Bottema-Beutel et al., 2020). Ideas for I-O consulting, HR, and people analytics: Be creative and intentional about creating neuro-inclusive organizations. Be proactive and mindful of the requirement of cross-team efforts, change management, and revising social norms and practices. Include neurodivergent voices. Lean into the broader DEI strategy (see Oki et al., 2022). Familiarize yourself with open-source resources (e.g., https://www.integrateadvisors.org/resources-for-employers/). Seek out or develop employee resource groups. Join as a community member or ally if your organization has a standing ERG. Encourage discussions around research and potential for academic partnerships to help drive research-based practices and more rigorous program management. Reach out to your DEI+ department to see if you could start a neurodiversity ERG. Connect with the People Analytics team. Neurodiversity metrics should be tracked as other demographic groups and intersectional identities should be considered. Set measurable DEI goals and track progress. Consider starting with a self-identification that you “are or are not neurotypical” in HR platforms like Workday (see Gabbard et al., 2014 for more on self-identification). Review what supportive organizations are talking about to see if you can identify any research gaps or connections to your research program (e.g., https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance). Write job descriptions that are refined to include inclusive language and essential education and job requirements so better create person–job–environment fit. Measure how and what interventions lead to greater neuroinclusion can educate organizational psychologists on best practices and future research to refine interventions for neuroinclusion. Share the data collected on neuroinclusion and the insights gained with the academic community to enhance the development of assessments and interventions. Ideas for neurotypical allies: Learn how to react appropriately to disclosure. Amplify autistic voices and share with others. The research suggests allies should do their part in educating others to reduce the burden on the neurodivergent community. Learn about, recognize, and reduce microaggressions and ableism: “I’m so ADHD today with my working.” Promote easy-to-access trainings or books: LinkedIn Learning: “ADHD in the workplace-Understanding and Supporting ADHD Colleagues in the Workplace” LinkedIn Learning: “Understanding Neurodiversity in the Workplace” Harvard Business Review articles by autistic I-O psychologist (Praslova 2021b, 2022b,c) The Canary Code book (Praslova, forthcoming, Berrett-Koehler Publishers). Consider searching the following Hashtags to follow and use: #NeurodiversityAtWork #ActuallyAutistic. Celebrate and spread awareness/encourage inclusion on “week” events by sharing research-based best practices for inclusion and equity on your social media platforms. For example, World Autism Acceptance Week March 27–April 2, 2023. See Praslova (2022b) for best practices on neuroinclusive celebrations and events. Authorship Information Kelsie Colley, MS, ABD: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelsiecolley/ Kelsie (she/her) is a queer autistic PhD student at Colorado State University, Future of Work researcher at Zoom, and global lead of Neurodiversity at Zoom Affinity Group. She studies the dynamic relationships among technology, strategy, culture, and diversity equity and inclusion. She is passionate about translating research to practice, measurement, and research-based people analytics to support employee flourishing. She is also passionate about sharing her lived experience as an autistic individual with ADHD. Ludmila Praslova, PhD: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ludmila-praslova/ Ludmila (she/her) is an autistic professor of Organizational Psychology at Vanguard University Southern California, author and consultant passionate about systemic and intersectional inclusion, and focused on neurodiversity. Tiffany Jameson, PhD: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tiffanypaytonjameson/ Tiffany (she/her) is an organizational psychologist and is passionate about creating workplaces where every team member, regardless of cognitive diversity, can thrive. Tiffany’s studies focus on universal design and cognitive diversities. Annika Benson, MS: https://www.linkedin.com/in/annikabenson/ Annika (she/her) is a PhD student at Colorado State University studying equity in the workplace using machine learning methods. She is passionate about creating inclusive organizational cultures and developing selection methods that remove barriers for entering the workforce. Tracy Powell-Rudy, MS: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tprudy/ Tracy (she/her) is an autistic VP of Corporate Engagement at Integrate Autism Employment Advisors, whose goal is to increase competitive employment opportunities for college graduates with autism. She is also a mother of an autistic young adult woman and late diagnosed herself. She is passionate about raising awareness and increasing neuroinclusive practices across diverse industries and centering the neuordivergent voice. Tracey Todd Staley, MS: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tracey-todd-staley-5a67751/ Tracey (she/her) is a business leader, leader of Autism Society of America, and the parent of an autistic son. She is passionate about making the workplace more accepting of neurodiverse employees. References Benson, A. L., Colley, K., Prasad, J., Willis, C., & Powell-Rudy. (in press). Contextualizing cases for neuroatypical inclusion in the workplace. Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Bernard, L., Fox, S., Kulason, K., Phanphackdy, A., Kahle, X., Martinez. L. R., Praslova. L., Smith, N. (in press). Not your “typical” research: Inclusion ethics in neurodiversity scholarship. Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Bottema-Beutel, K., Kapp, S.K., Lester, J.N., Sasson, N.J., Hand, B.N. & Otr, L. (2020). 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