HomeCase StudiesUnlocking talents: How XPO Logistics’ neurodiversity project enriches its workforce to deliver better customer outcomes

Unlocking talents: How XPO Logistics’ neurodiversity project enriches its workforce to deliver better customer outcomes

by HRD Connect | Case Studies

30-second summary:

  • XPO Logistics has embarked on a change management exercise to increase awareness, understanding, and education around neurodiversity in the workplace
  • Having trained over 600 managers, Lynn Brown, VP of Human Resources, UK & Ireland, cites an “enriched workforce that thinks differently and delivers for our customers.”
  • With phase one complete, XPO logistics now turns it attention to phase two which includes addressing shortcomings in the existing recruitment processes

Neurodiversity is a topic that is increasingly under discussion in the workplace. The phrase, which describes the variations in the human brain and cognition, including in areas such as mood, attention, learning, and sociability, has seen a huge spike in attention in the last five years.

This interest is especially prevalent in the workplace, where research highlights a growing appreciation for the broader perspective on intelligence that neurodiversity provides.

“Embracing neurodiversity is both the smart and the right thing to do,” the researchers explain. “Employing and supporting neurodivergent people within organizations also means potentially gaining access to a variety of skills. These include, but are not limited to, unwavering focus and pattern recognition capabilities, excellent analytical and problem-solving abilities, and memory and mathematical skills.”

A lack of understanding and awareness excludes neurodiverse employees

The recent spike indicates a desire to unlock previously hidden talents, alongside the creation of a more inclusive working environment. But it also shows that organizations lack understanding and awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace. Managers across numerous sectors and industries have admitted to feeling uncomfortable hiring neurodiverse employees and neurodiverse employees have historically experienced exclusion in the workplace.

This reality is the driving force behind the creation of a neurodiversity program at the transport and logistics solutions company XPO. It launched the project out of the groundswell of awareness that has emerged in recent years around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Neurodiversity has become a key part of these conversations as organizations have strived to create an environment that supports people in delivering their best.

“First and foremost, it’s about raising awareness and creating an environment so that people feel comfortable raising their neurodiversity,” says Lynn Brown, Vice President of Human Resources UK & Ireland at XPO. “We want to ensure that there is nothing in our processes or practices, our culture or our environment, that prohibits anyone with a neurodiverse condition from excelling.”

This involved exploring everything from how recruitment campaigns target candidates, and how they’re assessed, all the way through to the kind of working environment people encounter when they join the company. As the narrative around neurodiversity has begun, the organization is confident that a wide range of small tweaks will make the workplace a significantly better place for neurodiverse individuals. To date, XPO Logistics has rolled out neurodiversity training for 600 managers in the UK and Ireland.

The first phase: Raising awareness of neurodiversity

A key part of the first phase of the project has been the neurodiversity training suite that aims to educate and raise awareness of what neurodiversity is and how managers and employees from across the business can better support neurodiverse colleagues. The training platform features several videos that aim to challenge some of the misconceptions that exist around neurodiversity in the hope that this will educate people on the great benefits a diverse team can offer and support the company’s neurodiverse colleagues in delivering their best.

“It is widely accepted that diversity and inclusion of every kind needs to be encouraged in the workplace,” explains Brown. “Typically, the conversation has centered around areas such as ethnicity and gender.

“Embracing Neurodiversity and enabling all our people to shine by harnessing the critical skills they bring offers employers, like XPO Logistics, an enriched workforce that thinks differently and delivers for our customers.”

XPO has also recently partnered with The ADHD Foundation Neurodiversity Charity to create the “Neurodiversity Umbrella Project”. This is a visual awareness campaign that XPO features prominently throughout the headquarters of the business. It consists of multicolor umbrellas, each of which covers a particular aspect of neurodiversity.

Managers and employees have received the program very positively. XPO Logistics trained over 600 managers in three weeks in the UK and Ireland. The results are already taking shape. “We have seen volunteers from all levels in the organizations share their personal experiences, helping us shape content and support packages that will make a difference”, shares Brown. “Some employees are discussing their conditions with someone outside their family for the first time, while others are using their own experiences to further educate us on available resources.”

XPO’s neurodiversity journey is a change management project

Any change project requires champions from across the organization to help spread the word and encourage the adoption of new behaviors, and XPO’s neurodiversity project is no different. There was a strong desire to create neurodiversity champions from across the organization who can not only spread their knowledge but also act as advocates for neurodiverse employees and help ensure that they thrive in the business. These champions will also be crucial as XPO reviews the full employee lifecycle to make it more neuro-inclusive.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the project to date has been the willingness and energy with which people have jumped into it. There has been a groundswell of attention in the media and across society more generally that has created a clear desire to learn more about neurodiversity and how it affects people at work.

“One of the pleasing aspects of the project has been the overwhelming willingness of people to throw themselves into it,” Brown explains. “Often when looking for champions it can be a challenge to attract enough volunteers, but that hasn’t been the case with this project.”

As well as learning about neurodiversity, the champions scheme allows participants to learn new leadership skills and showcase their talents in new ways, such as through mentoring colleagues or contributing creatively to the project.

Phase two: Addressing neurodiversity in the recruitment process

The project is still in its initial phase, but the progress to date has been so positive that the company is extremely confident that the right platform has been forged to allow the initial scope to expand and accelerate.

“We’re planning to look at the whole recruitment process in phase 2 of the project so that everyone has the opportunity to work for us and we’re not missing out on fantastic talent in any way,” Brown concludes. “We’re also looking into how technology can help, have partnered with a neurodiversity consultant, and will feature the journey thus far in an upcoming senior leadership conference.”

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