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On March 28, the 4A’s hosted a virtual gathering, “4A’s Advancing Talent.” The event focused on best practices for creating more inclusion in the ad industry. 

The 4A’s are the leading U.S.-based advertising trade association. 

Industry leaders, HR pros, talent specialists, and DEI&B officers gathered to talk about how they can break down barriers and transform talent. The goal? To tap into the full range of human potential.

As part of our partnership with the 4A’s, Nathan Friedman, co-president and chief marketing officer, was a panelist for “The Asset of Accessibility.” He spoke about the tools and knowledge that workplaces need to foster accessibility. 

Read on for Friedman’s thoughts on how HR leaders can make workplaces more accessible. It all starts with understanding neurodiversity.

In today’s workforce, it’s crucial to ensure accessibility for all employees. Could you elaborate on some of the challenges you’ve witnessed in the advertising industry?

One of the main challenges is the lack of awareness about the scope of neurodiversity across workplaces. Neurodivergent individuals, such as those with ADHD or dyslexia, make up a significant portion — more than 20 percent — of any workforce. Workplaces must recognize this and explore what can be done to help this population feel a sense of inclusion and belonging. 

What immediate steps can people take to support accessibility in the workplace?

It starts with awareness. Understanding that a large part of your team — and potential team members — are neurodivergent will transform your workplace. Studies clearly show that by building diverse teams, organizations drive creativity and productivity, and can solve more complex problems. We all want this outcome for our teams and businesses. 

To support this outcome, we must make sure our hiring, workplace, and development practices support all people. For example, we can be sure to ask about accommodations at the application stage. We can train team members with interview best practices. This includes dispelling the myth that if someone doesn’t look you in the eye or shake your hand, they can’t be qualified for a job. HR leaders can also make sure that application tracking software doesn’t time out.

Foster an inclusive culture where employees feel comfortable asking for accommodations and where different working preferences are respected. You can do this by proactively offering accommodations. These can be as simple as a monitor, noise-canceling headphones, and working near light or away from an elevator. Another way to support accessibility is to send pre-reads before meetings so people can process the information ahead of time. 

Organizing employee resource groups and training sessions focused on understanding neurodiversity and its implications are critical components that will enhance accessibility in the workplace.

What resources are available for HR leaders looking to implement accessibility initiatives in their organizations swiftly?

HR leaders can access various free resources at, tailored specifically to support neurodivergent individuals in the workplace. These leaders can find valuable support that will drive meaningful impact within their organizations, from guidance on accessible recruitment practices to tools for creating inclusive work environments. 

What challenges do HR leaders face when implementing adjustments at the organizational level?

While the intention to drive change may be present, HR leaders often encounter obstacles when swiftly implementing adjustments in their organizations. One way to address C-suite challenges is to make the benefits clear. These include building better teams, having more robust ideas, increased profit margin and revenue opportunities, and different outcomes for the business.

HR leaders need to leverage available resources and make a business case that emphasizes how implementing these adjustments can increase satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and boost productivity while making the workplace more accessible.

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