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How brokerages and their insurance company peers can support neurodiversity

5 minute read

How brokerages and their insurance company peers can support neurodiversity

By: Sovereign Insurance

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The right candidate for your next job opening might be a person with neurodivergence—and you shouldn’t hesitate to hire them.

“Neurodivergence” is a non-medical umbrella term that describes “the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one ‘right’ way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits,” according to Nicole Baumer and Julia Frueh in an article for Harvard Health Publishing.1

Well-known forms of neurodivergence include dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). People with neurodivergence often possess highly desirable employee attributes, including those that make them particularly desirable insurance sector candidates.

For instance, people with dyslexia are often creative thinkers who have strong entrepreneurial and interpersonal skills, making them well-suited for such roles as insurance agents and brokers, according to GAIN (Group for Autism, Insurance, Investment and Neurodiversity).2 In addition, GAIN says that:

  • People with ASD are often analytical thinkers with strong attention to detail, which could make them gifted actuaries and loss adjusters.
  • People with ADHD are good at multi-tasking and working under pressure, so they’re often ideal project leaders and underwriters.
  • People with dyspraxia are problem solvers with good oral and interpersonal skills, so they’re well suited to roles such as support services, insurance agents and financial advisors.3

However, when it comes to employment, there may be a few accommodations needed to set both the organization and the neurodivergent individual up for success. Leaders should seek to educate themselves about hiring and accommodating these individuals and even consider enlisting outside help.

Getting started

If you don’t know where to start, there are plenty of resources and tools that can help. For example, Ready, Willing and Able (RWA) is a national organization “designed to increase the labour force participation of people with an intellectual disability or on the autism spectrum.”4

RWA is funded by the federal government in partnership with Inclusion Canada (formerly the Canadian Association for Community Living) and Autism Alliance of Canada (formerly Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance), along with their member organizations. RWA can help with education, hiring and ongoing support.

The Inclusive Workplace is an RWA initiative that provides education, resources and tools for businesses and employment agencies, as well as employees with an intellectual disability or on the autism spectrum.5

Accommodating neurodiversity

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach in accommodating neurodiversity. Since each person is unique, their required accommodations will be, too. Start by asking how they prefer you address their neurodiversity. Some prefer person-first language, such as “a person with autism,” while others prefer identity-first language, such as “an autistic person.”6

Also ask how you can accommodate them. For example, if an autistic person has sensory sensitivity, they may request noise-cancelling headphones to block out distractions—and to feel psychologically safe. Other accommodations could include offering a wider range of resources and tools, revising the hiring and/or onboarding process, enacting policies to create a more inclusive work environment, or supporting a more tailored career path through specific learning and development opportunities.

Revising the hiring process

Looking for neurodiverse talent begins with casting a wider net for candidates. That means looking beyond traditional schools and employment agencies to include organizations directly connected with the neurodivergent community.

Neurodivergent individuals may process information differently, so job descriptions should use plain language, focus on the essential skills for the job and state the brokerage’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Job applications should use short, simple questions, and leave room for candidates to include additional information. In some cases, a portfolio or work example might be a better accommodation than a written description of experience.7

Job interviews should be held in spaces that are free of distractions and, if possible, multiple interviews on the same day should be avoided. A candidate may wish to bring a job coach, and it might be more suitable to demonstrate their ability to perform job tasks rather than describe this verbally.

Making small changes

Often, it takes only small changes to make workplaces more inclusive and conducive. For example, sensory sensitivities could be addressed by providing accommodations like noise-cancelling headphones, adjustable lighting, a private vs. open concept office space or allowing for several short breaks to manage sensory and emotional overload.

Leaders should communicate clearly, provide instructions both verbally and in writing, and give regular, constructive feedback. Peer or team support, mentoring, social skills training and job coaching can help neurodivergent employees develop stronger social and/or job skills—and help them climb the corporate ladder in step with their neurotypical peers.

Many of these accommodations require very few resources to implement. In return, organizations will benefit from diverse viewpoints and approaches while gaining employees with valuable skillsets.



1 Nicole Baumer, MD, MEd, and Julie French, MD; “What is neurodiversity?” (Harvard Health Publishing, Nov. 23, 2021).

2 “Neurodiversity is essential to every insurance team” (Group for Autism, Insurance, Investment and Neurodiversity, accessed Jan. 14, 2024).

3 “Neurodiversity is essential to every insurance team” (Group for Autism, Insurance, Investment and Neurodiversity, accessed Jan. 14, 2024).

4 “Who We Are” (Ready, Willing & Able, accessed Jan. 14, 2024).

5 “Latest Resources” (The Inclusive Workplace, accessed Jan. 14, 2024).

6 “Identity-First Language” (Autistic Self Advocacy Network, accessed Jan. 14, 2024).

7 Michael Leopold; “How to Optimize Job Descriptions for Neurodivergent Job Seekers” (SHRM, March 23, 2023).