Author: Brian L. Hughes
April is World Autism Month
Beginning Saturday April 2nd Autism Speaks celebrates World Autism Month. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place throughout the month of April to increase understanding and acceptance and foster worldwide support.
What is Neurodiversity?
Neurodiversity is the concept that humans don’t come in a one-size-fits-all neurologically “normal” package. Instead, it recognizes that all variations of human neurological function need to be respected as just another way of being, and that neurological differences like autism is the result of normal/natural variations in the human genome.
Why is the concept of Neurodiversity important?
Neurodiversity is seen as a movement by many towards more equal treatment and more widespread acceptance for those on the spectrum, and with disabilities in general. The idea is that if autism is seen as a normal variation of the human experience, then those with autism will be treated more humanely and with more understanding that they might have different needs or different ways of coping.
Business benefits to Hiring employees with Autism
People on the spectrum often demonstrate trustworthiness, strong memories, reliability, adherence to rules and attention to detail. They are often good at coding – a skill that is in high demand. In fact, Austen Weinhart, COO of Coding Autism in Los Angeles, a coding bootcamp for people with autism, says that “the traits that are usually … associate[d] with people on the spectrum correlate really strongly with those of a successful coder.” Those skills include “pattern recognition, strong attention to detail” and a “very direct” communication style.
Beyond specific job skills, however, organizations increasingly recognize the importance of diversity to innovation. Neurodiversity, broadly defined as a diversity of thinking styles and abilities, is arguably especially important for innovative decision-making. Michael Fieldhouse, Dandelion Program executive at HPE/DXC in Canberra, Australia, says that neurodiversity “drives diversity of thinking and innovation.” Amy Conn, marketing director of Integrate (an organization that helps companies recruit and retain professionals on the autism spectrum) says that people with autism often “have a propensity to think outside the box and can be extremely creative.”
Companies Embracing Neurodiversity and Autism at Work
Want an immediate lesson about neurodiversity and autism workplace inclusion? Wharton’s Peter Cappelli and Drexel’s Paul Shattuck discuss how companies are increasing efforts to employ adults with autism in this podcast.
5 Companies With Diversity & Inclusion Strategies That Include Autism
- SAP Autism at Work: Helping People Reach Their Full Potential
- Ernst & Young is treating Autism as an asset in the workplace, here is Kyle’s story, an autistic trans woman pursuing a career at E&Y.
- JP Morgan Chase provides an inclusive career development environment for employees on the autism spectrum.
- Microsoft’s autism hiring program fully embraces inclusion.
- Freddie Mac’s autism hiring efforts have evolved through the years and the company is using its learnings to expand its efforts further. For 2020, the program has been rebranded to Neurodiversity at Work and is being operationalized full time as well as expanded to be inclusive of forms of neurodiversity beyond ASD (autism spectrum disorder), such as dyslexia. Freddie Mac is committed to fostering a stigma-free, inclusive culture to support neurodiversity individuals in building their careers.
Learn More About Workplace Autism Inclusion
SAP describes its strategy in Autism at Work: Encouraging Neurodiversity in the Workplace as a roadmap for other organizations looking to become more inclusive.
Inclusive Leaders Group’s Autism At Work Inclusion Course enables HR, D&I, Talent Acquisitions Workplace Wellness leaders and professionals to explore the emerging initiatives in technology and employee engagement to actively recruit and hire individuals on the Autism Spectrum.
About the Author
Brian L. Hughes is a highly sought-after global consultant, speaker and coach. He has achieved great success in linking inclusive leadership competencies with agile business practices for leading organizations. Brian defines inclusive leadership as; leaders that bring awareness and clarity to problem areas, they practice courageous accountability to help resolve those problems, they empower others, and they foster innovative collaboration to unlock the unique contributions of each person in a group. Contact Brian on LinkedIn.