If you attended our in-person (remember those?) Workforce Summit in 2019, the attached video might look familiar. We’re sharing it again to remind you of the immense value neurodiverse people can bring to your organization. Hopefully, it will inspire you to join CT Manufacturers Resource Group (a subsidiary of Web Savvy Marketers) in our effort to make manufacturing more inclusive for this population.
For example, if you haven’t considered implementing an autistic hiring program in your company, you might want to think again. Successful companies you’re probably familiar with are already reaping the benefits of these programs. They include Microsoft, SAP, Ford, Tesla, JPMorgan, Google, Dell, Ernsten Young, and HP.
According to Microsoft Chief Accessibility Officer Jennie Leflurry, people with autism represent a huge talent pool that hasn’t really been tapped. LeFlurry, who is deaf, says, “people with disabilities are a strength and force of nature in this company.”
While precise numbers are hard to find, by some estimates at least 80% of adults with autism are unemployed, even though their IQs are often well above average. They typically have an enhanced ability to recognize patterns and an acute attention to detail, but they often fail standard interview processes, which focus heavily on social skills.
At Microsoft, the interview for candidates with autism is geared toward completion of tasks and team building instead. During this vetting process, autistic candidates are less aware that they’re being evaluated, which makes “all the difference in the world,” LeFlurry says.
One of Microsoft’s autistic employees, Software Engineer Christopher Pauley, has been with company since 2016 and his supervisor, Brent Truelle, couldn’t be more pleased with his performance. “When we are faced with really complicated problems, the solutions to those aren’t always simple and Christopher always brings new insights,” he says. He attributes this to Pauley’s creative mind.
SAP was one of the first companies to reach out to the autistic community. The company launched its Autism at Work program in 2013. Jose Velasco, who heads the program, says almost every autistic employee has been a pleasant surprise. “They are good at just about every role,” he says. In addition, the retention rate for the company’s autistic employees is at 90%, which reduces the costs of onboarding and training new workers.
“I have been in this industry for close to 30 years, and I can tell you it’s probably the single most rewarding program that I have been involved with,” Velasco says.
The related CBS news video is less than 12 minutes long, but it goes into much more detail. It includes the employees’ perspective and is well worth your time. We encourage you to take a look.