Sir Richard Branson has hailed LinkedIn’s decision to recognise the term “Dyslexic Thinking” as a major step towards helping people feel proud of their neurodiversity.
The businessman and entrepreneur, 71, and global charity Made By Dyslexia have collaborated with the business-focused social network to recognise the term as a valuable skill.
The platform is now offering its members the chance to add it to their profiles, while online resource Dictionary.com has also said it will be adding “Dyslexic Thinking” as an official term.
Sir Richard told the PA news agency people with dyslexia think “creatively and more expansively”, and described the new initiative as a “breakthrough” in acknowledging the positives of being dyslexic in the workplace.
The Virgin boss added that he hoped companies will be actively seeking out dyslexic thinkers in the coming years.
“As a dyslexic person, I know how tough it can be in the early stage of discovering you are dyslexic at school,” he said.
“When I was young a long time ago at school, you just thought you were thick or stupid. There wasn’t even a term for it.
“And to a large extent over the past decades, when parents are told that their children are dyslexic, they view it with a bit of fright or fear.”
Sir Richard said he wanted parents to realise that while their children may struggle with more “conventional” school teaching, they will also have many extra strengths.
He added: “When they concentrate on the things they are good at they will be extraordinary and when they leave school they are most likely going to be even more extraordinary.
“And they should be proud of being able to say after their name, ‘I am a dyslexic thinker – and I am proud of it’.
“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.”
Sir Richard is inviting others with dyslexia to join him in adding the skill to their LinkedIn profiles.
Made By Dyslexia is the driving force behind the campaign, which also features a video featuring names such as Hollywood star Orlando Bloom, space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Soho House founder Nick Jones, talking about the value of Dyslexic Thinking in their careers.
Charity founder Kate Griggs, who is dyslexic, told PA: “It is absolutely essential that we see dyslexia as a pattern of strength, because we know from all of the research that it is vital for the workplace of the future.
“Dyslexic thinking is all about soft skills and every workplace is looking for those soft skills, so having that focus is really important.”
Ms Griggs said it was “super important everyone embraces that and discovers their dyslexic superpowers”.
Nicole Leverich, vice president of communications at LinkedIn, said: “I’m proud to be dyslexic and a part of this movement to redefine what it means.
“By adding ‘Dyslexic Thinking’ as a skill on LinkedIn, we can help recognise the creative, problem-solving and communication skills people with dyslexia bring to their work.”
John Kelly, senior director of editorial for Dictionary.com, added: “As evidenced by its addition as an official new skill on LinkedIn, the term Dyslexic Thinking, while long used within the dyslexia community, is fast spreading in the wider world.”
According to the Made By Dyslexia website, dyslexia influences as many as one in five people, and is a “genetic difference in an individual’s ability to learn and process information”.
The terms Dyslexic Thinking refers to how such minds process information in divergent, creative and lateral ways.
A 2018 report commissioned by the charity in partnership with EY suggests ‘Dyslexic Thinking’ skills match the skills needed for the future, as defined by the World Economic Forum.
A report from 2019 also indicated the skills found most challenging by dyslexics were in decline.
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