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Neurodiverse Employees More Likely to Speak Up

The Schulich School of Business at York University conducted a study entitled: "Organizational benefits of neurodiversity: Preliminary findings on autism and the bystander effect." Researchers asked thirty-three autistic employees and thirty-four nonautistic employees via an online survey whether they would voice workplace concerns about dysfunctions and to what extent their colleagues’ perceptions of the dysfunction influenced their decisions. The survey included seven short workplace vignettes involving organizational issues with ethical dilemmas or operational problems. Each situation presented various numbers of bystanders.

Based on the survey, autistic employees were much more likely to speak up and voice concerns if they observed problems in their work environment. Researchers believe this proactivity in noting issues could help organizations remedy situations more efficiently to their benefit. In addition, neurodiverse employees were less likely to be influenced by the presence of their coworkers compared to nonautistic employees. This data reflects that neurodiverse individuals tend to be more independent and self-reliant when making workplace assessments. Nonautistic employees tended to deny being influenced by others when deciding not to intervene in the survey vignettes. In scenarios with ten bystanders, autistic individuals offered more concrete rationales for their decision-making on whether to report, while nonautistic individuals provided more abstract reasons for not intervening.

The study is preliminary and based on a small sample size. A broader survey may provide additional information. However, the study does support previous workplace data that diversity within an organization benefits everyone.