As we kick off this years Autism Acceptance Month, we take a deeper dive into the trend concept of Diversity and Inclusion.
2018 was an eventful year for diversity and inclusion, with many companies dedicated to infusing diversity and inclusion principles into their workplace, creating winning diversity strategies and others struggling to create a culture of inclusion.
Diversity and inclusion is a company’s mission, strategies, and practices to support a diverse workplace and leverage the effects of diversity to achieve a competitive business advantage.
Although there seems to be strong community support for people with autism entering the workforce. The sad reality is autistic people feel unsupported in finding paid work and are challenged by the lack of understanding of autism from potential employers.
Intolerances take generations to overcome
“When world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, the international community reaffirmed its strong commitment to inclusive, accessible and sustainable development, and pledged that no one would be left behind. In this context, the participation of persons with autism as both agents and beneficiaries is essential for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” (https://www.un.org/en/events/autismday/)
Autism may represent the last great prejudice we, as a society, must overcome. History is riddled with examples of intolerance and narrow-minded directed at the atypical. Unconscious bias sometimes leads us to fear that which diverges from the “norm”, and sometimes that fear leads us to frame those who are different as being in some way lesser beings than ourselves.
An Australian landmark study done by peak autism body Amaze revealed that there is gross underemployment for autistic Australians and that their abilities are underestimated and underutilized in the workplace.
Autism is an evolutionary branch on the great genetic tree
A common misconception around autism is that it is inextricably linked to intellectual disability. However, many of the world’s great thinkers and innovators displayed autistic characteristics.
“Autism is not a disability it’s a different ability.” (Stuart Duncan, Grammy Award Winner)
Autistic people are human beings; genetically and neurologically distinct, but thinking and feeling people with strengths and challenges outside of average and divergent intuitive learning and communication styles. They often seek the right to be valued as equal, yet divergent, members of society, rejecting the notion of disability. Individuals on the spectrum often have a high work ethic. While there are roles that are “stereotypically” more suited to the skills of people with autism, including work in IT, engineering, quality and assurance, data analytics, risk, and finance – they could thrive into most positions.
Removing the divide
By bringing out the best in people who think differently, you position your company for greater advantage. That’s because innovation, which is a critical skill for businesses today, is driven by the diversity of thought.
“As Microsoft establishes itself as the world’s technology leader, we’ll need the talents and perspectives of diverse populations to bring about superior results.” (Microsoft)
Managers are often unaware that neurodiverse people can create enormous value if they’re placed into environments that maximize their ability to contribute. If you adjust work conditions appropriately, you can activate people’s hidden talents. Specialisterne helps employers understand, value, and include the unique skills and capabilities of people on the autism spectrum. We focus on removing obstacles to higher performance.
We must all stand together to include and value autistics for the very real and important contribution they make to society.