Autism enters workplace



INNOVATION. Microsoft is a leader among companies making efforts to include employees with diverse abilities. They have a program designed to attract talent and support people on the autism spectrum. According to the page on inclusive hiring on Microsoft’s website, “From the very first days of our company, Microsoft has sought to enable individuals and organizations around world to do great things.”

Oftentimes, workplaces seek diversity in all definitions of the word: they hire people of different racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and all other backgrounds in order to have all opinions represented.

At times, workplaces overlook diversity in ability and brain function or neurodiversity.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism is extremely prevalent, and some companies are making active efforts to include this community in the workplace. For example, Microsoft has an initiative–the Autism Hiring Program–with the sole purpose of including more employees with autism.

Neil Barnett, Director of Inclusive Hiring and Accessibility at Microsoft said of the program, “We look forward to seeing the program grow in these regions and continue to expand.”

While Microsoft’s efforts are steps in the right direction for workplace inclusivity, not all companies have been as inclusive. In fact, according to an article published by The Guardian, 54% of unemployed surveyed individuals with autism did wish they had a job.

Drexel University Professor Paul Shattack said, “This is not a charity act to do something nice for a person with autism; this is about having a more inclusive workforce because we value diversity in our society,” he said. “It’s about connecting with your customers.”