Autistic Workplace/Employment Performance

Q1 2018 

Editors Note

This newsletter is designed to highlight and analyse autistic workplace/employment performance. In preparing this document, we have included only announcements made/information disclosed related to autistic employment. 


We welcome any/all comments from any of our readers.



The 2018 Lime Connect Fellowship Program for Students with Disabilities (USA)


Lime Connect (Lime) and its corporate partners Bloomberg, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Google, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Microsoft, PwC and Unilever are pleased to announce The 2018 Lime Connect Fellowship Program for Students with Disabilities. Lime Connect is rebranding disability through achievement via its fresh approach in the disability talent space, and the premier Fellowship Program attracts highly accomplished students with disabilities, prepares them for the recruitment process, and connects them with the world’s leading corporations for potential summer internships. This yearlong program includes educational workshops, leadership/skill building, interview preparation, coaching and multiple opportunities to connect with partner companies via The Leadership & Development Symposium and more. Fellows are also part of the lifelong Lime Fellows Network.



New York University/Specialisterne (USA)



NYU and Specialisterne have a partnership for autistic students at NYU. This was recently extended to a high school programme for a 4 week intensive in the summer as a pre-employment programme with NYU’s ASD NEST inclusion programme.



More People with Disabilities are Getting Jobs. Here's Why | 26th January


In June 2017, Christopher Morris started work as an associate at Ernst & Young (E&Y). The 36-year-old is one of 14 people in the professional services firm's "neurodiversity" program, which hires people on the autism spectrum to work on its accounting and analytics projects.


Over the next three years, E&Y plans to bring dozens more people like Morris on board. "We need the talent wherever we can get it, whichever way it's packaged. There is a shortage, particularly in our skills areas," said Lori Golden, who is leading the charge at E&Y to hire more people with disabilities.


It's not just E&Y. With unemployment at a low 4.1%, fewer people are looking for jobs. As a result, many employers are having a hard time finding people qualified to fill the positions they have open. "This is indicative of the economy reaching full employment, and employers reaching out to groups that they traditionally don't reach out to," said Andrew Houtenville, research director of the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability.


Economic circumstances have helped speed up a broader cultural shift that's been underway since the American Disabilities Act became law in 1990. Since then, businesses have started to talk about diversity as a value-add. A growing number of firms include people with disabilities in that discussion, said Janet Bruckshen, executive director of Washington Vocational Services, which works to match individuals with disabilities with employers who are hiring.


Economists and advocates for people with disabilities say a Labor Department rule change under the Obama administration has also helped spur the change. In 2013, the agency issued a provision requiring all federal contractors try to fill 7% of their workforce with individuals with disabilities.


Technology has also made it easier for companies to channel changing attitudes into actual hiring. Remote work has become more common, and a greater number of processes are computerized in industries like manufacturing. These factors have collectively created a more hospitable environment for people with disabilities looking for work.


Despite these gains, the gap between employed people with disabilities and the general population remains sizable. When looking at employment for people with disabilities, economists typically look at the proportion of the working-age population with jobs, or the employment-to-population ratio – this ratio for working-age people with disabilities hit 30.8% in December 2017. For working-age people without disabilities, it was 73.3%.



Why the Frist family and one of the world's largest banks are teaming up (Tennessee, USA)

By Meg Garner – Reporter, Nashville Business Journal | March 2018


Members of the Frist family and UBS are teaming up to change the way Nashville business leaders view diversity in their companies.  Billy and Jennifer Frist, along with UBS, have launched an initiative to show local companies the benefits of hiring employees on the autism spectrum, highlighting the benefits of an "untapped potential workforce." "[People on the autism spectrum] have trouble finding a job, but they're very capable of contributing to our society through companies such as yours," Jennifer Frist said during a luncheon hosted by UBS.


The event — attended by roughly 40 local executives — was designed to be a direct pitch to companies about the benefits of hiring employees with autism. As part of the program, executives were introduced to The Precisionists, a Delaware-based company that helps employers find the right candidates with autism for their companies.


Together, the Frists, UBS and The Precisionists hope their message will resonate with local employees in time to meet their goal of placing 500 people with autism in jobs locally by 2020.


The Precisionists helped UBS' compliance and operational risk-control division hire the company's first employee with autism, and is currently contracting with UBS for seven more employees with autism that work out of The Precisionists' local office. Dianastasis said he's received interest from several companies already, including Asurion and HCA Healthcare's HealthTrust division, as well as Tractor Supply and Vanderbilt University.



Autism Spectrum Program at ANZ Group (Australia)



In February 2018, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), Lynwen Connick, announced she was “very excited to announce that our first #Autism Spectrum Program participants have been selected and will soon commence in ANZ Banking Group's #CyberSecurity and Testing teams. All of the candidates performed extremely well throughout the recruitment process which included agile concepts, robots, coding and real world scenarios. A testament to all of the participating individuals, I’m looking forward to spending time with our new recruits as they commence their journey with us.”



University of Queensland/DXC Technology (Australia and New Zealand)



In January 2018, The University of Queensland (UQ) and DXC Technology partnered to form the Queensland Neurodiversity Hub, which will help students gain work experience with DXC and its partnership organisations.


Dr Anna Krzeminska from UQ Business School says neurodiversity can be a beneficial trait in the workplace, and the Neurodiversity Hub would help connect these skilled students with employers.“For example, individuals with mild forms of autism have normal to above-normal cognitive abilities that could greatly benefit the productivity and competitiveness of organisations,” she said. “And yet, people with autism experience the lowest labour force participation rates when compared to any other demographic in Australia.”


Dr Krzeminska is leading a study to investigate the challenges, lessons and effective practices large organisations face in sustaining skilled autism employment, funded by the Autism Cooperative Research Centre and the Australian Institute for Business and Economics.


DXC Technology Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Seelan Navagam said the company planned to establish at least one neurodiversity hub in each major state in Australia and New Zealand.“These hubs will enable us to build a pipeline of candidates for our organisation and for clients such as the Australian Federal Government Department of Human Services, Department of Defence and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and also for our partner organisations such as Microsoft, SAP and ANZ Bank,” he said.



Case Study: SAP’s Autism at Work Program Provides Meaningful Employment for People on the Autism Spectrum (Canada) | January 2018



SAP is a multinational software company whose research and development locations (SAP Labs), employ over 2,500 people throughout Canada. Finding candidates with the right technical skills and competencies to serve this competitive market is no easy task. One of the ways that SAP has met this challenge is by hiring individuals who are neurodiverse through their Autism at Work program.


Outcomes to date in Canada

The Autism at Work program has continued to evolve since inception and the outcomes that have been realized include:

  • A total of four waves of cohorts brought through the Autism at Work program in Canada, three of which were in Vancouver, Montreal & Toronto.

  • Local partnerships continue to grow (Open Door Group, Pacific Autism Family Network, RWA)

  • 12 employees who are neurodiverse are employed with SAP Labs Vancouver.


Comment; SAP’s pledge of 1% of total workforce of autistic employees by 2020 shows a gap in Canada, as well as throughout its global network – based upon information provided to date by SAP.



Cherry Lane Primary School (UK)



The Headteacher at this primary school decided that a 6-year-old autistic boy needed to wear a high-vis (orange) fluorescent vest as a “preventative measure.” The child’s mother thought the decision to be discriminatory, demanded a meeting with the Headmaster, the result of which was that the boy no longer had to wear the vest.


© Music for Autism International 2018. All rights reserved. Reproduction by permission only of the Author of this document, Music for Autism International (MFAI).

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