1 in 5 project professionals working in manufacturing are not disclosing neurodivergent condition to employers – APM research reveals


Almost one in five project management professionals working in the manufacturing sector who consider themselves to be neurodivergent have not told their employer about their condition, according to a new survey by the Association for Project Management (APM), the chartered membership organisation for the project profession.

APM surveyed over 1,000 project professionals working in various sectors across the UK including manufacturing in the poll carried out by national research company Censuswide.

Adam Boddison, Chief Executive of the Association for Project Management (APM).

Just over a fifth (21%) of manufacturing respondents said they considered themselves to be neurodivergent, which includes conditions such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia. This was below the survey’s average (31%).

Of these, when asked if their employer was aware of their neurodiversity, almost one in five (19%) answered no, there were not aware. In contrast, the survey’s average was 15%.

Barriers facing project professionals from disclosing their condition across all sectors included ‘I've chosen not to tell them because I don't feel comfortable (40% agreed) and ‘I don't see the point in doing so’ (23%). One in four (25%) intended to do so, and 12% did not have an official diagnosis. 

However, 88% of the manufacturing respondents said that, once notified, their employer had made changes to the workplace or their ways of working to accommodate their neurodivergence. The figure was above the survey’s average of 81%.

Professor Adam Boddison OBE, Chief Executive of APM, said: “Manufacturers which embrace neurodivergence not only foster a culture of inclusivity and send out a powerful message that people with neurological differences are valued, but also benefit from unique strengths and perspectives that contribute to creativity, problem-solving and increased productivity.

“It can also unlock valuable insights into customers and stakeholders, leading to improved services and outcomes. Diversity in all its guises adds value to organisations.

“However, it is slightly concerning that around one in five project management professionals working in the manufacturing sector who consider themselves to have neurodiversity have not yet disclosed their condition to their employer, according to our latest research. ‘Feeling uncomfortable’ and ‘not seeing the point’ are common barriers that need to be overcome but most employers do make suitable changes once informed, which is a positive sign.

“Overall, the importance of encouraging a neurodivergent workforce cannot be overstated. Individuals must feel empowered and supported to do their best work, and once employers have created optimal conditions, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction, retention rates and overall success across the manufacturing sector.”

The survey also found that 80% of manufacturing respondents agreed with the view that the project profession is welcoming and supportive of people who are neurodivergent, in contrast to the survey’s average (64%). Another 19% neither agreed or disagreed, and 1% disagreed.

When asked what manufacturers can do to make the project profession more welcoming for neurodivergent individuals, 41% agreed on changes to working models, followed by improvements to working conditions, ensuring the business is more aware of benefits that neurodiverse individuals can bring to the workplace (both 37%), and more internal training for staff on neurodiversity (34%).

All figures have been rounded to the nearest 1%. A total of 1,001 project professionals in the UK were surveyed by research company Censuswide on behalf of APM. 

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