Most of us have been through the steps of getting a job, but what if you have a unique way of processing information? Neurodiversity is a recognition that not all brains think or feel the same way, and these differences are natural variations. The self-identifying label of “neurodivergent” originally focused on those who are autistic. However, in more recent years it has been used to describe those who think, behave, and learn differently to what is typical in society.
Examples of conditions that come under neurodiversity are: Autism,, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Tourette’s Syndrome, and Dyslexia to name a few. Neurodivergent people often experience major barriers to employment, and many are unemployed or under-employed as a result.
That’s where Mentra comes in.
Mentra is a hiring platform that intelligently matches neurodivergents with fulfilling careers. Currently Mentra has had around 17,000 jobseekers on the platform, and that number keeps growing.
Mentra tackles systemic inequality by economically empowering underserved communities. They have erased the stigma around neurodiversity hiring with Mentra’s recruiting platform that matches neurodivergent talent with inclusive employers. Their mission is to bring neurodiversity to the workplace - providing employers with thought diversity & job seekers with economic opportunity.
Mentra: Neurodiversity Employment
The site is available to jobseekers, employers, universities and service providers (anyone who works on behalf of a jobseeker to help them in their job finding process.). Mentra will take the information you share by matching neurodivergents with jobs that most align with those neuro-exceptional strengths, using AI to make the workforce accessible. Mentra’s software analyzes 76+ data points to match neurodivergents with jobs that optimize for career success without relying on traditional measures of job fit.
Shea Belsky, Mentra CTO, spoke about their program. “Mentra asks our job seekers specific information about their neurodiversity, which doesn't often come up on other similar platforms. We ask the traditional experience questions; education, job history, and skill sets. But we also ask them, what are some environments in which you can and can't succeed in? What are some aspects about you being neurodivergent? What do you want an employer to know about you?”
On the hiring side, Mentra asks employers questions about their job. Questions range from, “Do you provide professional and soft skills development for your employees?”, “What can you do to accommodate if an employee has some sort of inclusion essential that they need to be successful?” “Is it a good fit in terms of what the candidate needs support with and what the job and the company can provide?” Mentra looks at all these factors and when they align, then their team creates a match.
Most of the jobseekers Mentra works with come to them organically, usually after a Google search. Lately their program has worked with many university partners, advocates and staffing agencies. “Those who work in advocacy positions also work on the behalf of job seekers. A program like Mentra gives them insight into all these jobs available,” Shea remarked.
Right now Mentra is focusing more on technology and STEM sectors. “I think it's because that is where we’ve found the most opportunities for companies to come in and introduce the idea of neurodiversity to us. Once companies come in, we talk to them about their tech roles, but then we get into their other jobs, and ask ‘why don't you post this non-tech role? Or this business or design role?’ We are certainly leaning more on the STEM side, but that's not the end state.”
Maximizing Career Success
One of the goals Mentra has in its sights is to have jobs in every industry and sector available to their seekers and at every level of experience. A big part of what Mentra is doing is breaking down the hiring barriers, but also it reveals the massive problem that is neurodiversity hiring. One in seven people around the world are neurodivergent and of those one in seven people, 80% of them are either unemployed or underemployed. This is a massive disparity in the number of people who are really talented, qualified, and passionate about their skill sets.
Mentra is literally changing the lives of a lot of their job seekers. “The reason we want to work with these companies is to compel and motivate them to be more inclusive. To connect them with jobseekers who have all the talent and skill sets, but just need the process and the support structure to change.” Shea emphasized. “These opportunities are literally life changing. We've had a few job seekers who were homeless or on the verge of homelessness, who got jobs through us. I don’t want to make it sound like a charitable thing. It's a problem. We want to frame it, not just as social justice, but more as improving the world and the lives of others.''
I asked Shea, in his opinion, are companies finally getting it? “Companies are starting to get it, for sure. I think we still have a long way to go. We are making a dramatic amount of progress when it comes to companies thinking about ‘neurodiversity as a competitive advantage’ (a company came up with that quote), but I like it because it allows companies to understand that neurodiversity and disability does not have to be seen as someone who is broken or deficient or incapable of something. They are just as capable as others, but the system in which they provided doesn't work for neurodiverse job seekers because it's a matter of changing the system slightly or making accommodations.”
A new world is rapidly changing, one where leaders are making strides in inclusion, diversity and equity. Yet the need for better efforts for neurodivergent inclusion needs to be set. Mentra encourages businesses across all sizes and industries to take part in a neurodivergent-friendly model that is data-backed, research-driven, and actionable by focusing on the advantages of neurodiversity at work.
To learn more about Mentra visit https://www.mentra.com/