It’s likely you know someone who has dyslexia. In fact, for every 10 people, 1 of them is likely to be dyslexic. However, despite representing 10% of the population, 22% of dyslexics are unemployed.

At the top of the Dyslexia Rich List is Bill Gates — one of the richest men in the world (the youngest billionaire at 31), with a net worth of over £64 billion. Someone on the average UK salary would have to work for over 2.4 million years to reach Bill Gates’ net worth.

And it’s not just entrepreneur dyslexics who make their millions from their divergent thinking. The people in the rankings are from a range of industries, including chefs and stars in the entertainment industry such as Cher (7th), Jamie Oliver (9th) and Whoopi Goldberg (20th).

Plus, findings show that only 4 out of the top 20 have a university degree, and nearly half of the top 20 left school before turning 18.

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that makes it challenging for the person to read and spell accurately. Some dyslexics may have trouble with additional issues such as their short-term memory, processing information, following instructions, timekeeping and organisation. But dyslexic brains are just wired a little differently, so alongside the difficulties there are some remarkable strengths too.

The experts from social enterprise and neurodivergent recruitment agency Exceptional Individuals have collected data on the net worth of famous dyslexics and their education level, in order to combat misconceptions that having dyslexia can hold people back in their careers. By pushing for a better understanding and appreciation of dyslexic individuals, bosses can get a mix of minds on board, to create opportunity and boost their business.

Who are the top 20 highest-earning dyslexic celebrities?

Name Net worth (£) Industry
Education level
1 Bill Gates £64,281,600,000 Technology
Finished high school
2 Steven Spielberg £3,888,000,000 Film
Has a university degree
3 Richard Branson £2,332,800,000 Diversified/Entrepreneur
Left school before 18
4 Tom Cruise £311,040,000 Film
Finished high school
5 Tommy Hilfiger £233,280,000 Fashion
Finished high school
6 Jay Leno £233,280,000 Television
Has a university degree
7 Cher £186,624,000 Music
Left school before 18
8 Keanu Reeves £186,624,000 Film
Left school before 18
9 Jamie Oliver £155,520,000 Food & Hospitality
Left school before 18
10 Robbie Williams £155,520,000 Music
Left school before 18
11 Jennifer Aniston £155,520,000 Film & Television
Finished high school
12 Lewis Hamilton £147,744,000 Sports Sixth Form
13 Theo Paphitis £134,784,000 Business & Retail
Left school before 18
14 Ozzy Osbourne £114,048,000 Music
Left school before 18
15 Jim Carrey £93,312,000 Film
Left school before 18
16 Caitlin Jenner £51,840,000 Sports, Business & Television
Has a university degree
17 Keira Knightley £41,472,000 Film, Modeling
Finished high school
18 Noel Gallagher £36,288,000 Music
Left school before 18
19 Vince Vaughn £36,288,000 Film
Finished high school
20 Whoopi Goldberg £31,104,000 Film & Television
Has a university degree

What are some common dyslexic strengths?

The way the dyslexic brain works isn’t wrong, it’s just different. The advantages of dyslexia are huge, but they often remain untapped if employers don’t recognise, appreciate and adapt to their dyslexic employees. Here are just a few small examples of those strengths:

  • Creativity

Dyslexics are often highly creative. This is because they often have to strive to find creative solutions to tasks they find challenging, but also because many are exceptionally brilliant visual and/or spatial thinkers. This is why industries such as TV and film have many dyslexic employees.

  • Design

Dyslexics have strengths in pattern recognition and spatial awareness, which enable them to design in ways others are not able to. Tommy Hilflinger struggled to read at school, but his sharp eye for fashion has made him millions.

  • Communication

Dyslexic people can struggle to find words, such as the names of people they know, but they’re able to communicate brilliantly via storytelling, often with lots of energy. Many actors and actresses are dyslexic as the list shows — they’re some of the world’s best communicators!

  • Big picture

Dyslexics are good entrepreneurs because they can look past the details to find the answer. Laser-sharp focus has helped Richard Branson become one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time.

Matt Boyd, founder of Exceptional Individuals, says:

“As you can see from our findings, dyslexia can be a real asset to an employer. But employers are still using processes that are quite dated — not considering an applicant if there is a spelling mistake on their application for example — which is screening top talent out.

“Once recruited, an employer can make simple and inexpensive changes to ensure that a dyslexic employee can work to the best of their ability in a fairer work environment, and that their strengths are being maximised. We advise that a Workplace Needs Assessment is undertaken, which provides recommendations to adjust the working environment to their individual needs, which we can help you to implement.”

How can employers improve how they recruit and support dyslexic people?

Many employers are not aware of the challenges that the recruitment process can pose for dyslexic or other neurodivergent individuals, and this means they’re missing out on invaluable talent.

There are numerous ways businesses can accommodate the needs of people with dyslexia, not only gaining from their strengths, but preventing dyslexia discrimination.

 Job adverts — in plain English, using bullet points and short sentences (or video adverts)

 Interviews — keeping them short, using visual presentations

 Training — hands-on, practical learning

 Working environment — installing dyslexia-friendly fonts, encouraging regular breaks

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.