April 13, 2020
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By Yves Veulliet
In 2008, The United Nations declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day. Since then, many countries around the world help increase understanding and acceptance of people with Autism through events and communications during the whole month of April.
At IBM, we celebrate Autism Acceptance Month to recognize the important talent and contributions of autistic and neurodiverse IBMers to our business, our clients and our communities. It’s an opportunity for us to go beyond autism awareness, to proactively accept and respect our autistic colleagues, so they can feel comfortable bringing their whole self to work.
The Power of Community
Our Neurodiversity@IBM Business Resource Group (BRG), with 1,300+ allies, is an active team that promotes the benefits of hiring the neurodiverse, advocates for neurodiverse-friendly hiring strategies and spreads knowledge on acceptance and awareness. They formed the Actually Autistic Work Group and created a safe environment for neurodiverse individuals to discuss issues, develop best practices, and serve as an advisory council to collect viewpoints of neurodiverse people.
With their help and guidance, IBM made big strides in 2019. We started neurodiverse hiring efforts in several countries, including Brazil, Northern Ireland, Australia, Canada, and the United States, which we continue to expand. And during the World Economic Forum 2020, IBM joined the Valuable 500 campaign, the global movement putting disability on the business leadership agenda.
The Importance of Internal Recognition
During Autism Acceptance Month, we are sharing the stories of autistic IBMers on the internal network through “Faces of IBM” – a series that tells the story of IBM through IBMers.We are kicking things off with Bill Dusch, a self-described #proudautistic and active member of the Neurodiversity@IBM BRG. Since earning his PhD in Physics in 2018, he joined the GTS team in Raleigh, North Carolina, as a Data Scientist. In just 18 months he’s already co-inventor on 4 patents and racked up 23 digital badges – and it appears he’s just getting started. We are also hosting an internal panel video conference with neurotypical and neurodiverse IBMers to discuss what IBM is doing to support neurodiversity, and how we can all continue to work together to support bringing our whole selves to work.
While we celebrate Autism Acceptance Month in April, we continue with year-round efforts to advance neurodiversity acceptance in IBM and our communities. How do YOU celebrate Autism Acceptance?
About the Author
Yves Veulliet is IBM’s Global Disability & Inclusion Leader. In this role, he facilitates the inclusion and engagement of employees with different abilities, through the design and implementation of IBM programs, capabilities, and offerings.