Autism at work

Eleanor Close Kraft

Changing the world. One mind at a time.

(TLDR) Autism at Work highlights companies valuing the unique strengths of autistic individuals, like detail-focus and integrity. They’re changing hiring processes, moving away from traditional interviews to include neurodiverse talent. Success stories like SAP and Ultranauts show high retention and a strong belief in the benefits of cognitive diversity in the workplace.

The talent question
Companies all over the world are competing to attract and retain talented people. But what do they mean by “talent”? An expert? A generalist? An expert-generalist? What about more specific traits: superior attention to detail, focus, observation skills, ability to retain facts, in-depth knowledge in areas of interest, respect for rules, and integrity?1

These are potential strengths of people on the spectrum. Given the proper support, they just might accomplish even better than neurotypical people. Without any doubt, they deserve the chance. It’s important to remember that people with autism are not alike. While their challenges may seem similar, their individual strengths are uniquely their own.

Hiring neurodiverse talent
To take advantage of neurodiverse talent, companies need to adapt their hiring process to include a broader definition of talent. One huge hurdle is the interview process, which causes many talented prospects to drop out of the running. Using assessment techniques that are non-traditional and non-interview-based has proven effective. Today, many prominent companies are reforming their HR process and hiring – and seeing the fruits of their efforts pay off. 2

Success stories
Among the earliest companies to hire was SAP in 2013. Their Autism at Work Program includes interviewing, onboarding and adapting processes that remove barriers for autistic adults. SAP has 90% employee retention rates through the program.3

Ultranauts, engineering and assurance services company, proudly states that of their cognitively diverse fully remote working team, 75% are on the autism spectrum. And they say, “100% of Ultranauts believe our differences make us better together.” 4

We concur!

1 DAIVERGENT, “7 Tech Companies That Hire Autistic Adults” by Bernadette Wilson, 7 February 20202 Harvard Business Review, “Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage” by Robert D. Austin and Gary P. Pisano, May–June 20173 DAIVERGENT, “7 Tech Companies That Hire Autistic Adults” by Bernadette Wilson, 7 February 20204 Ultranauts