Employment May 6, 2021
Inclusive hiring makes good business sense proves auticon, the IT consultancy with employees with autism
Neurodiversity hiring is not just good for philanthropic reasons, it also makes for good business. IT consultancy firm auticon, which has a presence in eight countries, has over 200 neurodiverse employees, many of them with autism. auticon says the pandemic has been good for business and will lead to greater awareness about the advantages of inclusive hiring.
Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group, rates auticon among the three companies he most admires. No doubt this IT consulting firm with a presence in eight countries, is showing the world the benefits of autism hiring.
Founded by Dirk Müller-Remus in Germany in 2011, auticon is the world’s first company that exclusively employs people with autism as IT consultants. The inspiration for the company came after Müller-Remus’ son was diagnosed with Asperger’s. He was dismayed by the job prospects available to people with autism and decided to start a company that was dedicated to creating long-term sustainable job opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum.
Creating quality jobs for people with autism
auticon currently employs 300 people; over 200 are neurodivergent, most of them people with autism. They work as junior consultants and developers with blue chip clients like Deloitte, KPMG, GlaxoSmithKline, Allianz, Linklaters and Channel 4. Technology consultants on the autism spectrum are paired with dedicated job coaches who have professional experience working with adults with autism. They help ensure that the work environment enables them to deliver to their full potential. They also provide clients with the information regarding autism in the workplace.
auticon’s social mission is to build high quality careers for skilled autistic adults is a win-win for our colleagues and clients. They often have exceptional skills, such as logical thinking, attention to detail (central coherence), long-term memory, accuracy and pattern recognition, which make autistic candidates strong contenders for many STEM roles requiring these capabilities. – Steve Hill, Commercial Director, auticon, UK
Helping companies with autism hiring
There is a recognised global shortage of these skills in the IT sector due to the growth in demand for data analysts and data scientists for example. Yet a staggering number of adults with autism around the world are struggling for jobs. In the United Kingdom, according to a 2016 report by the National Autistic Society, “up to 90% of adults on the autism spectrum are either unemployed or under-employed; 77% who are unemployed say they want to work”.
auticon is trying to address by launching training services to help companies with neurodiversity hiring. They train their employees, managers, and recruiters on developing inclusive hiring programmes.
“We focus on three main areas”, says Hill. “Training where we engage with organisations on how to make their environment more open to neurodiversity. The second is live experiences which involves working with one of consultants and the third is advisory services”. The third involves looking into a company’s autism hiring practices, even how to write advertisements that appeal to candidates with autism looking for jobs. “The interview process can be hard for autistic candidates”, points out Hill, “so we take the organisations through all the different process to attract that talent”.
Competitive advantages of neurodiversity hiring
The benefits of autism hiring were highlighted in an impact report released by auticon in early 2020. This shared the experiences of employees with autism at the firm and companies that auticon had trained in inclusive hiring practices. 83% of the employees with autism said the support system and coaching structures helped them significantly with their integration into the workspace. 80% of employees with autism said their skills and abilities had improved.
Sir Branson, who is open about living with dyslexia, has called auticon a true trailblazer for being a business that challenges people to view neurodiverse conditions like autism and dyslexia differently, “not as disabilities but as talents and needs”.
Owen Clay, Linklaters Partner adds, “Our experience with auticon has been that any adjustments we need to make to accommodate the needs of their consultants are far outweighed by the extraordinary abilities and skills they bring to the firm.”
Hill is confident that the increased focus on remote working in the wake of the pandemic will generate greater awareness about the competitive advantages of neurodiversity hiring. This will translate into greater jobs for people with autism. auticon hopes to open up avenues for people with autism beyond technology, in the space of media and the arts.
“The pandemic has shone a light on the fact that many people can work from home, be more productive and benefit from a greater work life balance”, says Hill. “The fact that a company, whose team predominantly consists of individuals who have historically been marginalised in society, yet is successful and profitable proves a point in itself”.
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