Do you employ workers with hidden disabilities, like autism? If not, you’re missing out on a bunch of benefits these workers bring to the table.
According to recent research, nearly 60% of individuals with autism are unemployed, yet:
- 54 million Americans with disabilities represent the third-largest market segment, behind the Baby Boomers and the mature market.
- 92% of Americans view companies hiring people with disabilities more favorably than those that do not. And 87% of Americans would prefer to give their business to companies that hire disabled people.
- People with disabilities have a lot of buying power, too, representing $1 trillion, including $220 billion in discretionary income.
- 74% of adults who have an intellectual disability have some work experience.
(Sources: Autism Speaks and Spectrum)
Many organizations are noticing the benefits of hiring and developing employees with autism and are partaking in what’s now called “neurodiversity” in the workplace. Below are some of the more notable employers that are hiring staff with autism.
In 2011, a nonprofit group based in India, Autism Society of India, asked international software giant SAP for help to teach kids on the autism spectrum some communication skills. And the suite of software SAP developed for this initiative led the organization to develop and implement their own Autism at Work program.
The company now hires individuals with autism to do things like test software, develop software, and more. And it is currently committed to hiring 650 individuals with autism by 2020.
In 2014, Microsoft launched a program to help hire individuals with autism for positions that require coding, engineering, and data skills. Its program is especially unique because it revamped the entire interview and hiring process for individuals who fall inside the autism spectrum.
Instead of traditional interviews where candidates are asked a lot of questions and there’s a lot of face-to-face conversations, it allows candidates to demonstrate their skills during a week-long (or longer) process with workshops in a more comfortable environment. And this yields great results for its new employees with autism, as well as its overall retention rates of employees with autism.
HP participates in the Dandelion Program in Australia, where they work to recruit individuals who display strong analytical and mathematical skills and excel at detail-oriented and repetitive tasks. They are beginning to tap into a new talent pool in Australia and have revealed a good amount of success with their program.
In 2012, mortgage loan company Freddie Mac decided to partner with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) to develop its Autism Internship Program. When candidates apply to the organization, the organization works to find roles that fit each candidate’s unique skill set instead of trying to fit each candidate into a predetermined role. It also trains its managers to help candidates adapt well to corporate life.
Hiring individuals with autism has gone very well for the organizations listed above and could prove very beneficial for your organization, too.