New LinkedIn change aims to reduce stigma of dyslexia in the workplace

The networking site added “dyslexic thinking” to its list of skills in an effort to reduce the stigma of dyslexia.
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“Dyslexic thinking” is now a skill that LinkedIn users can add to their profiles. The popular networking site added the term at the end of March in partnership with Made By Dyslexia, a global charity run by people and celebrities with dyslexia. reportedly plans to define the term “dyslexic thinking” as “strengths in creative, problem-solving, and communication skills.”

Both announcements were part of a broader campaign by Made By Dyslexia to reduce the stigma around dyslexia. The advocacy group also produced an accompanying report, in partnership with staffing firm ManpowerGroup, on dyslexia in the workplace.

Zoom out. The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity defines dyslexia as “an unexpected difficulty in reading in an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader.” Yale also notes that dyslexia is the most common neuro-cognitive disorder, impacting one in five people worldwide.

Scientists have explored and discussed the unique capabilities of the dyslexic brain for years, but the Made By Dyslexia report says that many employers are still unaware of the skills associated with dyslexia. While people with this neurodivergence can have trouble with spelling and reading, Made By Dyslexia research claims that some dyslexics have a “differing combination” of valuable soft skills like communicating, creating original work, visualizing things like new concepts, being curious, and connecting with others.

Martin McKay, founder and CEO of TextHelp, a software company that creates solutions specifically for people with dyslexia, told HR Brew that “if someone’s dyslexic, they very often won’t disclose that they’re dyslexic because they think it’s a career-limiting thing to do.”

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McKay said employers have an opportunity “to create more inclusive workplaces by acknowledging that probably [a small percentage] of their employees are dyslexic.” He says it’s important to make tools like literacy software available to all employees, so dyslexic employees won’t have to disclose information unless they want to.

Star power. Sir Richard Branson, who is dyslexic, is one of the Made By Dyslexia campaign’s most prominent partners (other dyslexic celebrity partners include Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley). He told the Press Association news agency in March, “I know that I would not have been able to achieve what I have achieved in my life if I hadn’t been born dyslexic, so I am very grateful for it.”

Adding “dyslexic thinking” comes as LinkedIn moves towards what the company calls a “skills-first blueprint” for hiring, offering a more holistic view of candidates and their skill sets. Using its global skills data, LinkedIn says it is aiming to help its members identify career changes based on their skills, rather than “relying on unnecessary credentials.”—KP

Correction, April 13, 2022: An earlier version of this article stated that had redefined the term "dyslexic thinking." The website reportedly plans to do so, but has not yet made the change.

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