April is National Autism Awareness Month
April is National Autism Awareness Month, providing an opportunity for communities, businesses, and social media to play their part in raising awareness about autism. According to Diversity in Tech, autism affects more than 1 in 100 people in the UK with only around 32% of adults in paid work, while 77% of autistic adults have stated a desire to work.
As a technology company, Synextra acknowledges the benefits a neurodiverse workforce brings to innovation in an enterprise. Diversity and inclusion policies that include neurodiversity are not only beneficial for company culture they also enable companies to become more creative and innovative. By having a neurodiverse workforce, it introduces people to a team who have different perspectives and problem-solving techniques and can share those experiences.
IT has certainly gone some way to promoting neurodiversity in the workplace already. Social enterprise, Auticon was founded in 2011 focusing on hiring individuals on the autism spectrum as IT consultants. With large brand names such as Virgin Group and KPMG among their customers, and expansion across more than six countries including the UK, Canada and US, their success speaks for itself.
In 2017 Harvard Business Review highlighted that cognitive diverse teams solve problems faster. Microsoft had already launched its Autism Hiring Programme across the US back in 2016 and its 2020 Diversity and Inclusion report revealed that 6.1% of its US employees self-identified as disabled, a figure that had been included in their reporting for the first time.
So, why is there still such a long way to go to close the gap?
Synextra is committed to ensuring that we are not only talking about autism in April, but that we are taking the right steps to create a working environment that attracts, retains, and nurtures autistic talent.
We are constantly reviewing our recruitment and onboarding processes, with the recent introduction of a computer-based technical assessment for all technical roles that enables candidates to demonstrate their skills, rather than coming straight into a discussion setting which could be more stressful. This has proven to be very successful in quickly identifying the strongest technical candidates, irrelevant of performance in a traditional interview setting. You could almost say it is ‘The Voice’ for techies!
Our working environment has also been evolving with the introduction of new breakout spaces and standing desks in areas away from the hustle and bustle of the main open-plan office space. Neutral colour palettes and quiet bean bag areas versus fun Xbox zones create space for everyone to be able to take a break and find space to work that works best for them.
We, like many businesses, are now recognising the benefits of hiring people with neurological differences, and the need to ensure that processes are set up to support this goal has been widely accepted. Technology businesses pride themselves on being leaders of innovation, this needs to continue to expand beyond the technology we are using and the offices we work in, to the people that are leading the charge.
The more we speak about the positive things that a neurodivergent team brings to the workplace, the more we can break down barriers and misconceptions.
More information about Autism: