A year ago we announced our latest round of AI for Accessibility grantees in the employment space; organizations using AI to improve employment for people with disabilities. Amongst them, Mentra is addressing the bias in recruiting by creating a neurodiversity employment network built with universal design principles from the ground up. Their talent platform serves the 1 in every 7 humans worldwide who are neurodivergent; this includes individuals with autism, dyslexia, ADHD, and other neurological variations.
Despite the unique capabilities of the neurodiverse community, today’s hiring practices often unintentionally screen out this talent pool. When the world’s most diverse minds go overlooked, society loses out on increased innovation and productivity, both of which are essential to advancing humanity.
Mentra believes it’s time that hiring platforms serve the neurodiversity of the human population. Through more than three years of research, the Mentra team discovered that algorithms often screen candidates primarily based on education background and employment history. This approach fails take into account aptitude and non-traditional measures of success which often restricts job opportunities for a large percentage of the disability community.
The Mentra team also discovered that the data that feeds today’s algorithms do not cover the nuanced environmental factors such as communication style, situations, tasks, and accommodations. This information can make or break a good job fit for a neurodivergent.
To turn these barriers into bridges, Mentra’s platform collects holistic data on cognitive strengths, aptitude, and environmental sensitivities, and accommodations avoiding the typical “screen out” of those with non-traditional backgrounds. By considering data that goes far beyond the resume, Mentra’s AI determines a candidate’s likelihood of success in a particular role by maximizing on job retention and job fulfillment. By showcasing a multi-dimensional profile to companies, Mentra acts as a translation layer between employers and neurodivergent professionals who may not display the behavior and experiences recruiters are accustomed with, unlocking a talent pool that has been immensely overlooked.
A reimagined experience for candidates
To avoid the “resume black hole” that candidates often face, Menta’s digital platform solves this challenge by flipping the script. In a “reverse job fair” model, candidates only need to submit one comprehensive application, then the AI does the work! By analyzing the core competencies of each candidate, Mentra’s AI proactively recommends candidates to employers who are actively seeking out the strengths of this population. Employers then invite jobseekers to next steps in their interview process only when there is a real, qualified lead. This redesigned job-finding experience ensures a cognitively accessible process for the neurodiverse population.
Instead of having to apply to hundreds of positions, jobseekers on Mentra can use that time to craft a personalized profile to showcase their strengths for employers on the platform. Users also have access to a dashboard where they can enter the “Mentraverse” and connect with upskilling opportunities, engage with a personalized task roadmap to help advance their career journey, and express interest in an array of positions recommended to them.
Mentra’s reinvented hiring process has resulted in real-world impact to people’s lives. As one candidate, Brittany, shares: “I was selected for a location near me for much more money than I have ever made. I really cannot express my gratitude to you and your company. I have not started yet but I just want to tell you the situation that I have been in. This was the second time post-COVID that I claimed unemployment. The first time I ran out of months for claiming unemployment. I looked four months, found a job and was not extended as a permanent employee. I could not afford rent last month and tried to get help with housing assistance and was denied. I tell people stories of Mentra and how you found me and helped me. Thank you so much it could not have come at a better time.”
For others, like Mett, Mentra allowed them to bring their authentic self to recruitment process without the need to ‘mask’: “To be completely frank, after ten years of job-related disappointment, all of this almost feels like a dream: by which I mean, being treated with kindness, respect and consideration both pre- and post-hire, and being able to – anxiety notwithstanding – look forward to a new set of exciting challenges every Monday morning. Thanks Mentra for all of your help throughout this process.”
A product overview can be accessed on YouTube: Mentra Product Demo – Launching into the Mentraverse!
The gamechanger to hiring talent for organizations
Even though embracing neurodiversity in the workforce is a relatively young movement, a growing number of prominent companies are reforming their talent acquisition processes to access neurodiverse talent.
On Mentra, employers can showcase the ways that they are creating inclusive hiring practices through their neuro-inclusive company profile; this creates transparency and awareness as companies make efforts to become employers of choice for the neurodiverse. On the platform, employers can post neurodivergent-friendly jobs at scale, and interact with prescreened shortlists of talent that fit their roles.
The information companies submit about themselves and in their job profiles are fine-tuned and translated to an accessible format that ensures candidates have access to the info they need, in a way they can process it.
The results indicate a win-win for employers and candidates – in just the last year, Mentra has placed 45 neurodivergents into meaningful careers. So far the retention rate of candidates pre-vetted through the Mentra platform has been 97 percent, and 79 percent of candidates who have been recommended for a role were selected for an interview.
Menta’s next steps
The Mentra team cares deeply about the opportunity to empower neurodivergents to reach their fullest potential in the workforce of the future. As a neurodiverse team of neurodivergents and neurotypical allies, Mentra aims to demonstrate the heights of what an inclusive workforce can achieve.
That is why their next company goals are bold – they want to grow their user base and ensure more candidates get hired. Equally they want to maximize retention, for them it’s not just about helping candidates landing a role, it’s about ensuring they feel that sense of independence that comes with income, and find their purpose in the world.