The Growing Autism and Neurodiversity Employment Movement
In a time when many competitive outcomes are decided by access to talent, some pioneering companies are tapping rich new sources…and learning, in the process, how to more fully leverage the talents of all their employees
This presentation will describe recent developments in the exciting and accelerating neurodiversity employment movement. Started by a small Danish company in 2004, the movement is based on the idea that many neurodiverse people (e.g., people on the autism spectrum) may have valuable talents that can benefit companies willing to reform their recruiting and hiring practices. SAP, the world’s third largest software company, was the first major company to create an autism employment program, in 2013; their Autism@Work program now employs more than 140 people in eight countries, in more than 20 different professional positions. Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, EY, Ford, and JP Morgan Chase are just a few of the many companies that have since launched neurodiversity employment programs. Without exception, these companies are experiencing a wide range of benefits from the programs. Participants in the programs – many of whom had been considered unemployable before – have benefited from life changing access to new and meaningful work opportunities.
Robert D. Austin is a Professor of Information Systems at the Ivey Business School at Western University, and an affiliated faculty member at Harvard Medical School; he has also held faculty positions at Copenhagen and Harvard Business Schools, and served as dean of the Faculty of Business Administration at UNB Fredericton. He is the author of nine books and dozens of articles published in venues such as Harvard Business Review, Information Systems Research, MIT Sloan Management Review, Organization Science, and the Wall Street Journal. His recent research focuses on the potential of workforce diversity to enhance innovative capabilities within organizations. The article on which this presentation is based, called “Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage,” coauthored with Gary Pisano, appeared in the May-June 2017 issue of the Harvard Business Review.
This presentation has been organized by a group of students raising money for the Dragonfly Center for Autism, a local organization that provides resources within Charlotte County for children with autism and their families, including summer camps, seminars and workshops, and teaching aid and referral services.
The Dragonfly Centr aims to “support individuals who have autism towards self/realization and emotional confidence by offering gentle guidance and opportunity through expressive therapies and the surrounding environment.”
In addition to raising money for the Dragonfly, we hope to spread awareness about the need to acknowledge and accept people on the autism spectrum, and value the positive contribution neurodiversity can bring to our lives and our world.
Admission will be by Donation (All proceeds go toward the Dragonfly Centre for Autism)
Snacks and Beverages will be available