Guest Blog by Zachary Amos
Technology often provides people with unique opportunities and solutions, and neurodiversity offers much of the same to a workplace. Cybersecurity can be fast-paced and complex, so it could benefit from people with specialised skill sets.
What Is Neurodiversity?
The word neurodiversity comes from the idea of biodiversity and its benefit to a social system. This idea was created with the belief that neurodiverse people provide unique assets to society. Neurodiversity is a general term for a collection of various things, but it’s most often used to describe people who think differently. Their thought patterns and the way they react to stimuli deviate from what is considered average.
Workplaces Need Neurodiversity
More cybersecurity professionals should be neurodiverse. The labour market in the tech industry is changing. In 2021, the demand for cybersecurity professionals increased by 58%, and the industry is not slowing down. Employers that want to remain competitive in the labour market must hire and retain neurodivergent workers. Seeking to employ neurodivergent people raises the likelihood prospective employees will see a company as competitive.
Historically, the tech industry hasn’t been very diverse. Bias and lack of opportunities for higher education have made it difficult for minorities to become a part of cybersecurity. Neurodiversity brings various outlooks and solutions to a workplace, which can significantly benefit employers and employees.
Workplace neurodiversity has several plusses:
- Unique skills: Many people have unique and specialized skills because of their neurodiversity.
- Different approaches: Neurodiverse employees think differently than most and can approach situations differently.
- New solutions: Their skills and mindsets can offer unique solutions to workplace issues.
Challenges should be addressed with new perspectives and abilities. As cybersecurity evolves, workers should change, too. Neurodiverse people can offer workplace solutions that the average person might be unable to.
How Neurodiversity Works in the Workplace
Cybersecurity can benefit from some neurodiversity. Aside from diversity being a general plus, neurodiverse individuals can provide advantages to their security roles. These advantages are based on how neurodiversity positively affects their work. Neurodiversity affects each person differently, but they benefit their professions the same.
Neurodiverse individuals can sometimes hyperfocus. Hyperfocus is described as giving complete attention to a specific task for a prolonged time — to the point where all distractions are tuned out. People with neurodiversity can engage in a job, give it selective attention and tune out all outside noise. This is very beneficial in a cybersecurity role. Neurodiversity can allow people to be highly attentive to their work tasks.
2. Repetitive Tasks
Many neurodiverse people are fond of patterns and repetition. Some often seek to repeat tasks in their daily lives by creating routines and may seek a regular work schedule. Long, monotonous routines are calming or even exciting to people who are neurodiverse. They would fit well in a role in cybersecurity.
Unique thoughts and nonlinear thinking make neurodiversity a crucial part of problem-solving. Neurodiverse people often come up with creative solutions because they can look at an issue from a different perspective. They can also develop innovative ways to do everyday tasks, which would improve efficiency in the workplace.
4. High Performance
Neurodiversity can give people high levels of concentration and persistence. They often try to focus on tasks and persist until they develop solutions. A cybersecurity role aligns with this level of effort. A neurodivergent person can continue working on specific jobs for prolonged periods with little to no dip in performance.
Innovative tendencies can help with workplace performance. Neurodiverse individuals can have strong reasoning skills that, combined with keen awareness, make for great team members. Insight is also very beneficial for a security role. Being able to plan and think outside the box means they might anticipate issues that the average person won’t.
Neurodivergent people respond well to inclusion. A team that consists of diverse individuals reacts better to challenges. Neurodiverse individuals connect with others like them, and having many on a team heightens each of their strengths. Morale might increase when a workplace fosters diversity.
Cybersecurity Is Changing
The industry continues to change as the labour market shifts and technology advances. Cybersecurity can benefit from the addition of neurodiverse workers as it evolves. Having specialized skill sets and minds in cybersecurity roles might be advantageous.