In April, we recognize the need for greater awareness, inclusion and acceptance of autistic and neurodivergent people in every facet of society and seek to break down barriers to entry in the workplace for neurodivergent individuals.

In celebration of Autism & Neurodiversity Acceptance Month, we are spotlighting Steph Aldridge and her amazing contributions to making the cyber profession more accessible to neurodivergent professionals. Aldridge is the Director of NeuroCyber, a nonprofit organization that is addressing the cybersecurity skills gap in the UK by providing information, connections, and support for neurodivergent colleagues in the cybersecurity field.NeuroCyber’s Director, Steph Aldridge

Aldridge began her cyber career in 2012 when she joined the Cyber Security Challenge UK (CSCUK), a startup that specialized in finding untapped talent and helping them successfully start careers in cyber. At CSCUK, Aldridge was a connector, building grass-roots networks, sourcing talented minds and diversifying the profession.

As the Director at NeuroCyber, Aldridge continues to build pipelines for neurodivergent professionals and was instrumental in coordinating the UK’s first Neurodiversity: Autism into Cyber event, which encouraged industry youth, carers and educators to spread awareness on the need for diversity of thought in the UK cybersecurity field and beyond.

During the event, Aldridge recalls the joy a parent experienced while watching her son participate in activities and make a new friend, which he had never done before. Such moments are what truly drive Aldridge to continue her work, as well as her own diagnosis of ADHD in late 2022. “That’s why this community means so much to me."

In addition to welcoming new talent into the sector, NeuroCyber regularly uplifts the voices of neurodivergent people already working in tech. Their 2023 NeuroUnity report compiled employment experiences from over 200 neurodivergent professionals to uncover barriers faced by neurodivergent employees while working and seeking employment. “There’s a real understanding of the struggle. We are building networks and allowing safe conversations, this is real change,” Aldridge said. 

For Aldridge, Autism & Neurodiversity Acceptance Month is all-year-round. “The fact that a month is dedicated to this topic means companies need to realize that up to 20% of their workforce is more than likely neurodivergent.” Aldridge encourages companies to start internally by highlighting the positive attributes neurodivergent people bring to the workforce, alongside improving processes that can negatively impact neurodivergent employees’ performance. “Most cyber companies are not trying to keep neurodivergent people out, but they must create a working environment where they feel safe to express themselves,” Aldridge said.

We are all capable of making the cybersecurity workforce a more diverse and inclusive space for all. Learn how you can be a neurodiversity ally during Autism & Neurodiversity Acceptance Month and beyond.