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How can Fashion embrace Neurodiversity?

The fashion world has a lot of work to do.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Mar 19, 2021

As a Black female, last summer’s racial upset was the first time in my twenty nine years of living that I felt like people began to see and attempt to understand racism. My hope is that the racial reckoning the world is starting to experience, will bleed into other oppressed groups outside of ethnicity through empathy and opportunity.

 

As a woman of color, I am very aware of the numerous groups of marginalized people that aren’t being given opportunities and support. One of these groups, neurodivergent people, are highly gifted but too often overlooked. Neurodivergent describes a range of behaviors and brain functions, including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and bipolar disorder. Unlike race and gender, people can’t easily see neurodiversity — therefore leaving it so misunderstood.

 

As a POC, my career is greatly impacted by the support or lack of support I get. The same is applied to neurodivergents. The fashion world can do a lot more in terms of accommodating for this community. My hope is for the industry to design office spaces with all people in mind, not just neurotypical, able-bodied people. Just like corporations who are investing in diversity and inclusion leaders, I’d love to see brands adopt neurodiversity leads who can come in and make suggestions as needed.

 

The fact of the matter is, neurodiversity is underserved in the fashion industry. Employees that fall into this category aren’t given the right resources, tools and opportunities. Which is ultimately not good for business because the way I see it: the greater the diversity of employees, the greater the amount of ideas and talents — leading to greater productivity, solution and innovation.

 

Fashion teams can start by simplifying job descriptions. Where industry jargon, or internal policies are often referenced, regular English and an increased focus on the essential skills that are actually needed for the job, would be beneficial. This will be easier on neurodivergent candidates and others. In the interview process, on-the-spot questions or displaying eye contact can pose as a challenge for neurodivergents. Instead of the traditional rounds of interviews, brands can offer tests, take-home tasks and other creative ways for the candidate to show their strengths and talents. Hiring managers should create a safe space for neurodivergents early on, in the onboarding stage — making new employees aware of all the options they can take.

 

As the fashion industry continues to champion for LGBTQ+ rights and people of color, my hope is that neurodivergents will be included in this list. After all, you cannot say you support equal rights and not include all the people that are affected.

 

Photo via Getty Images