April 1, 2022
Part One: What is it?
Welcome to your first step in learning more about the Neurodiversity Index! We are very proud to introduce the Neurodiversity Index to the world and excited to help you understand exactly what we are doing here. In the spirit of transparency and clarification, this blog post is going to serve as an introduction to the Neurodiversity Index for anyone who may not be familiar with the world of investing.
To begin, it is important to have an idea of what “neurodiversity” means. That is a complicated topic, so it is very understandable that many individuals don’t have a concrete understanding of its meaning. If so, we recommend reading this before continuing this blog post. It is important to note here that an estimated 20% of the population is neurodivergent, and that Neurodiversity as an idea has been commonplace in mainstream culture for a few years now. Neurodiversity is not a concept we are pulling out of nowhere, it has a long and storied history behind it including its connection to the Autism Rights Movement of the early 2000s. Now let’s start with the basics, what do we mean by “index.” Well to quote the official Methodology of The Neurodiversity Index:
“The index is an equal-weighted index measuring the performance of the top 79 U.S. listed companies that are leaders and advocates of the neurodiversity movement to support individuals with autism and other cognitive or neurological conditions. All companies are ranked by proprietary formulas and the research developed by a majority autistic team”
Basically, in the world of stocks, an index is a collection of different stocks that, in this case, are ranked based on certain criteria. The criteria work as a way to rank all companies on the stock exchange. In this case, The Neurodiversity Index ranks the top 79 ranked companies in Neurodiversity worker and consumer inclusivity based on our 8 chosen criteria. You can learn more about the criteria here, but to put it simply, we measure companies’ commitment to neurodiversity inclusion and allow you to invest in the companies that rank highest. The value of the index is determined by the values of the 79 companies currently in it. If the companies in the index do well, the value of the Neurodiversity Index rises.
Through the process outlined above, the Neurodiversity Index plans to use its power to encourage neurodiversity inclusion across the board. The Index does that in two ways. First, the Neurodiversity Index shows companies that investors care about neurodiversity inclusion and are willing to put their money where their mouths are. Second, it allows investors to invest in companies that share their values on neurodiversity inclusion, therefore giving those companies greater access to investment capital. We know there exists a want to be part of this process. There are many investors we’ve spoken to who know that investing in the success of people with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and learning disabilities can lead to a truly better future for members of these populations. The Neurodiversity Index is built around bringing all of these ideas, and their vocal and passionate proponents together. Together we can advocate for a more inclusive future inside and outside of the investing world. The Neurodiversity Index is a tool to help push for a more inclusive future, but it’s also even more than that. It’s an investment in our future.
Part Two: Why you should invest.
Let’s discuss why you should invest in The Neurodiversity Index. We’ve established that investing in The Neurodiversity Index supports companies that are inclusive, but there are more reasons to invest than just that! As any investor knows, investing is also about making money. And The Neurodiversity Index is no exception! The index is built on the well-documented and researched phenomenon that businesses that are more diverse are more profitable. We believe that will apply to neurodiversity as well, and in our own personal lives and work, we have seen that this is in fact the case. Investing in autistic success alone has been incredibly successful in the tech industry. However, this doesn’t mean that every company investing in autism or learning disability inclusion will be successful. And smart investing means investing in successful companies. Because of this we at The Neurodiversity Index actually take each company’s financial well-being into account as well, to make sure smart investments are being made on behalf of our own investors. One of the criteria for The Neurodiversity Index is titled “Accountability” and exists to make sure we are only considering businesses with sound financial data as a part of this index. This means companies with speculative or manipulative stocks will not rank highly in our index. To put it simply, business viability is crucial. We plan to build a more inclusive future for neurodiverse individuals, while also making money for those investing in that better future.
Let’s wrap this up by addressing a very fair question that we often hear: “Are these really the 79 companies that are most inclusive of neurodiversity?” The short answer is no, and this is for a fairly complex reason. The truth is that the Neurodiversity Index is limited in how much it can exclusively focus on neurodiversity inclusion. First, the index only includes the largest companies traded on the US stock exchange. Second, as mentioned before we do not include financially unsound companies or companies with shady business practices in our index. Third, our criteria are robust, and we do that to make sure that we are measuring real commitment to neurodiversity inclusion, not just hollow words. However, the type of commitment we’re looking for can often be costly. Specifically, it can be costly to design and implement new hiring systems and flexible work options, as well as begin developing products targeted to neurodiverse consumers, all things that we look for based on our criteria.
In a world where the value of businesses being inclusive to neurodiverse consumers and workers isn’t fully understood yet, most of the businesses willing to invest the funds it takes to rank highly on all of our robust criteria are very wealthy and powerful corporations. While we take their efforts very seriously and understand the way they have helped many neurodivergent individuals, we hope that The Neurodiversity Index can begin to convince smaller businesses to invest in neurodiversity inclusion as well. We are not far off from a world where every company and business from local town stores to corporations invest heavily in neurodiversity inclusion and success, and we believe the Neurodiversity Index will help us get there!
The Neurodiversity Index is proudly transparent and because of that, you can view the daily value of our index on our website here so you know we’re not just blowing smoke about this being meaningful and profitable. We are excited to be entering the investing world as a way to empower neurodiversity inclusion and push businesses towards a more inclusive future! If you are interested in investing in the Neurodiversity Index, please reach out to us here or at 877.854.2879 and we will get to work investing in that future!
We are advisors and advocates for our neurodivergent clients and clients with disabilities. Get our free guide on how impact investing through Neurodiversity inclusion yields results.