Neurodiversity at Work

Companies are hiring autistic people because it benefits everyone.

There has been much talk in recent times about gender and ethnic diversity, but very little about hiring people with autism. Until now.

Autistic or non-neurotypical people are all logical thinkers, curious, evidence-based decision makers, tenacious, persistent at solving problems and focused. They offer different perspectives and don’t succumb to the sort of groupthink or non-evidence based decision making that lands many companies in trouble.

Their tendency to be direct and honest in social interactions can sometimes get these characters into hot water. But it also stops them getting bogged down in office politics. And it’s for all these reasons that, in the real world, a growing number of companies are seeing the value of hiring autistic people.

Technology companies such as Microsoft and Dell have autism hiring programmes. The hiring process tends to focus on the technical abilities of candidate and includes observing team-building exercises.

Other organisations are going further, aiming to change perceptions and highlight the benefits that hiring people with different ways of thinking can bring. German software company SAP launched an initiative in 2013 to recruit more people on the autism spectrum and showcase the benefits they bring to the company. Their chief executive, Christian Klein, says: "SAP teams who have colleagues with autism report a rise in patent applications, innovations in products, and an increase in management skills and empathy."

This is due to the curiosity of autistic people, an ability to memorise large amounts of information, see patterns as well as detail and a determination to get the job done. New ways of seeing problems have led to innovations for the company. These successes have thrilled managers and encouraged them to look beyond the neurotypical skill set.

Source: The Conversation