Tag Archive for: Sterotyping

labels and boxes

Why labels and boxes can be lies and distractions?

Do more individuals want to identify with neurodivergent labels?

It seems so, some people seem to like labels and boxes!

Now on the surface, this can often be a healthy to access help, resources and money. Where I believe these labels and boxes can be lies and a distraction is when we use them to define who we are. Labels can only ever provide a lens to look at part of who we are, they are never going to fully describe everything about us and as result, they need to be treated with care.


I am describing stereotyping of neurodivergent conditions, for example several specific hiring programs focus on particular neurodivergent conditions. Autism has been the focus of hiring programs from SAP, Dell, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, JPMorgan, EY, and Google Cloud. This is of course a great step forward but as Churchill said: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.

The opportunity

There is an opportunity to think more broadly in terms of how we integrate different thinking styles into our organisations. What I mean by this is quite often neurodivergent labels are used to categorise what we think people will be best at, and more often, what we think they will struggle with. This may look like autistic individuals being computer programmers, ADHDers being in sales, and dyslexics being in a blue-sky thinking lab, (meaning brainstorming with no limits). The challenge is that these thinking styles are relevant across our organisations and we need to challenge why they are not able to be present in positions of influence.

The challenge with labels and boxes

The challenge for organisations is to look at roles differently in terms of the skills and competencies needed to fulfil them. There is an opportunity to segment and re-evaluate distinct roles within our organisations giving flexibility to automating and removing tasks that are not core to the requirements of the role. This opens up the possibility of introducing truly great people who can fulfil what is needed as opposed to a wish list of unrealistic requirements.


If we genuinely want people to be the very best and their most effective at work, they need permission to remove the human and process barriers that stop them from doing that. This starts with conversations that help us understand what we need in key roles and who are the people we need to deliver them. This goes on to understand the barriers that need to be knocked down and the resources that need to be made available so that they can be successful.

What next for labels and boxes!

As a final thought, I would expand this out to include not only the individuals but also the teams they operate in. The approach is very much the same, assessing what the team is there to do, understanding how they can be brilliant and what the barriers are that need to be removed so they can do that!

The next practical step is to start a different kind of conversation where individuals are listened to, and a plan is formed! – Lets move beyond ‘labels and boxes’.

If you would like to have a conversation about how to facilitate this, please get in contact.