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Take It from Moji Coffee—Neurodiversity Helps Businesses Boom

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — October 8, 2020 — 3 min read
When Moji Coffee + More opened in June 2019, its founders had two goals in mind: to make great coffee and to create a community of neurodivergent people.

(Being neurodivergent means your brain works differently from what’s considered “typical.”)

Executive Director Tim Flavin wanted Moji Coffee to be a place for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) to gain confidence, learn skills, and be a part of the greater Winston-Salem community.

“Our employees with IDD are some of the most loyal and responsible people,” Flavin said. “They want to be there. They want to learn. They want to be good employees. They take pride in their accomplishments.”
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It’s Good Business: Hiring Those with IDD

Many businesses are starting to become more inclusive. Some are even making it their goal to hire those who are neurodivergent.

Diversity and inclusion are becoming more popular for new and old businesses alike. According to one Forbes article, “Decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results.” This means that the more diverse an employer’s team is, the better their outcomes.

And what is neurodiversity if not good old run-of-the-mill diversity? More and more businesses are considering actively hiring neurodivergent employees. Doing so makes a dent in the IDD unemployment rate (21% for adults) and helps with IDD representation.*

*Representation is the way someone or some group is portrayed, or shown, to others. An employee with IDD can speak on behalf of the IDD community. They can also be a role model to others with IDD who may not think they can get a job.

Flavin made it clear that neurodiversity does indeed make a difference. Not only are the employees spectacular, but the business results are measurable. Recently, Moji Coffee was voted the Best Coffee House in Forsyth County by Yes! Magazine and has bounced back quite nicely after shutting down for two months due to COVID-19.

Moji Coffee’s Workplace Challenges are Not Unique to the IDD Community

When asked about the potential challenges of hiring mostly those with IDD, Flavin said, “You have different personalities and different needs. Many of our employees learn differently than others.”

Flavin explained that it’s important for businesses to make training work well for each person with IDD, just as they should for those without.

“We have a lot of visual training,” he said. “It’s very hands on. We adapt to how different people learn. But, really, in an ideal work environment, that should be true for everybody—because everybody, ‘neurodiverse’ or not, learns differently.”

Building a Legacy by Building an Inclusive Community

For some who visit Moji Coffee, it’s their first experience interacting with someone with IDD. Moji Coffee gives both their guests and their employees the opportunity to interact and learn something new. “Guests learn that those with IDD are just like us. Just like you and me—just a little different,” Flavin said.

Flavin also said that Moji Coffee serves a lot of regulars. These frequent customers build relationships with the “Mojistas” and notice when they’re not working. “A customer will come in and say, ‘Where’s Billy Jean or Bobby Joe? When are they going to be back?’”

Then there’s the community built between employees. Several employees (pre-COVID-19) would go out to the movies together or have hangouts after work. “It gives them this commonality. It gives them something they can talk about. Two friends can be proud of an accomplishment they have. It’s amazing to see the camaraderie,” Flavin said.

When Moji Coffee + More was founded, the ‘More’ part of the name “just seemed like a good thing to add,” Flavin said. The “More” included mugs, cups, T-shirts, coffee beans, and artwork.

But now, he said, it’s taken on a different meaning:

“‘More’ has become the most important part of our name. Because the word ‘More’ means our community.”

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