When Neurodiversity Works: Bringing new perspective and talent to your team

By Paul Austin and Andrew Williams

Neurodiversity is a concept where neurological differences are recognized and respected as any other human variation. One of these variations is autism.

In the workplace, high-functioning autistic individuals may view the world a bit differently than their neurotypical teammates. They may notice anomalies that others do not. They may see a different solution to a problem. Their attention to detail and low tolerance for defects may lead to an increase in quality for the entire team. And this improvement can benefit our clients.

 

“I want to help people see autism not as a mystery but as a window into another world.” —   Ingrid Weiss, IBMer

 

An opportunity to help

Currently 44% of people with autism have IQ scores in the average to above average range. Nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job. Looking at these statistics, IBM saw an opportunity to bring these uniquely talented individuals into our workforce.

The IGNITE ASD program

In 2017, we partnered with Specialisterne to deploy IGNITE Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a program that helps transform spectrum talent by employing them locally to bring differentiated value to our clients. The IGNITE ASD program covers:

  • Planning
  • Sourcing
  • Staff awareness workshops
  • 4-week assessment phase
  • Ongoing support for new hires and current staff

We filmed a documentary about some of the individuals in the IGNITE program, shining a spotlight on their roles and daily experiences. This candid and honest portrait provides relatable insights, connecting us to the characters in a meaningful way. The video demonstrates how these employees and IBM have adapted to create a work environment that gives everyone the opportunity to succeed and promotes personal and professional growth.

We’ve already launched the program in select locations in Australia and the United States. By 2020 IBM, in partnership with Specialisterne and other providers, plans to create 300 new IBM jobs for individuals with ASD globally.

We’re excited about this opportunity to welcome some very gifted people as IBM employees. Connect with us to organize a one-on-one discussion about progressing a program in your own organization.

For more information

Please contact Paul Austin or Andrew Williams.

→ Visit the IBM IGNITE offering page

→ Visit IBM’s inclusion and diversity page

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