Press release

6 Jul 2021 London, GB

EY launches first Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence in the UK to boost client innovation

EY launches first Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence in the UK to boost client innovation

Press contact
Rupa Sudra Bharadva

Manager, Media Relations, Ernst & Young LLP

Communications professional for EY UK. Mum of two, works part-time. Passionate about supporting women in business.

  • EY UK Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence (NCoE) has set an ambition to hire 150 neurodivergent individuals, who will work within EY’s integrated client teams across the UK
  • Globally, EY already has six NCoEs established in the US, with others in Canada, India, Poland and Spain
  • Based on the experience of EY in the US, when compared to their colleagues, neurodivergent employees excelled at innovation
  • Neurodivergent individuals will be hired this year to accelerate our clients’ technology transformation plans, and drive creativity to solve the most challenging business problems

London, Tuesday 06 July 2021: EY is set to launch a Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence (NCoE) in the UK, to fuel innovation in technology, bring a new dimension of creativity, and drive greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace. As we continue to learn from contributions of our current neurodivergent employees, the NCoE will provide an employment path for those who have not had access to equal opportunities.

Globally, EY already has six NCoEs in the US, one in Canada, one in India, one in Poland and one in Spain, with further expansion plans into Europe, South America and Asia Pacific.

The NCoE in the UK is designed to create a supportive working environment for individuals with cognitive differences - such as autism, dyslexia and ADHD – that will help them to apply their strengths and meet clients’ business needs in emerging technologies, such as: artificial intelligence, data analytics, automation, blockchain and cyber.

Multi-dimensional high performance teams

Over the next three years, the UK NCoE has set itself the ambition to hire 150 neurodivergent individuals, who will work with EY’s integrated client teams across the UK. The first UK NCoE will launch with a founding team of six to ten, with applications opening in August 2021.

Alison Kay, EY’s Managing Partner for Client Service in the UK & Ireland, says: “Just 22% of autistic adults are in any kind of employment in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Yet, they are typically highly proficient in some of the ‘in-demand’ skills of right now, and in the future. EY’s UK Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence will help to boost innovation for our clients and our own business.

“In the last 12 months we have seen more than ever, the importance of purpose in business and the role that employers can make in helping to drive social change. As a business leader, accelerating progress on diversity and inclusion in the workplace makes commercial sense and fits with our purpose – Building a Better Working World.  

“I hope that as EY aims to create a highly supportive working environment for all of our people, our UK NCoE will encourage others to lead with purpose and challenge their own talent strategy, to help transform the employment prospects of neurodivergent individuals.”

Recruitment

EY has already begun to adapt its recruitment processes and working environment to support the talents of neurodivergent employees. EY aims to recognise the potential of all employees. For example, with established employee networks that support people, and their family members, with dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism and more.

The NCoE will be a further step in progressing diversity and inclusion in the workplace and accessing the largely untapped talents of those with cognitive differences.

Work is already underway to further customise the hiring, training, and onboarding process; for example, NCoE’s in the US have: shifted from a behaviour-based interview process to a performance-based one; hiring and training is done so in small groups; and orientations are offered in advance for candidates to familiarise themselves with the workplace.

The approach also provides structure around the team to ensure success and promotes a greater sense of psychological safety for true belonging and equity. The UK will draw on the experience of EY’s US practice, which opened its first NCoE in Philadelphia in 2016, spearheaded by Hiren Shukla, who is now EY’s Global and Americas Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence Leader.

Around five years ago, charged with boosting innovation in our EY US business, Hiren set out to activate the exponential power of neurodiversity. Now, eleven NCoE’s are established globally, including in the UK.

Catriona Campbell, EY’s Client Technology & Innovation Officer, UK&I, who will head the UK Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence comments: “Harnessing the exponential power of neurodiversity will enhance the service we provide to our clients.

“For instance, in the US, we measured the impact on innovation, by comparing the work quality, efficiency, and productivity, generated by neurodivergent and neurotypical professionals. Quality, efficiency and productivity were comparable, but the neurodivergent employees excelled at innovation. The diversity of thought and creativity they brought was a differentiator.

“I’m very proud to be leading EY’s UK Neuro-Diverse Centre of Excellence and welcoming a team of super talented professionals. I have already received messages of great support from our people at EY and in the market, many of whom know how such an initiative can change lives.

“We hope to emulate the success of our US NCoE’s, which have inspired an ecosystem of organisations around them that share our purpose to build a better working world.”