Diversity-focused hiring programs are increasingly helping companies to widen their search when hiring new talent. This includes hiring individuals with autism.
Figures published by the CDC show that as many as one in 68 school-aged children can be identified on the autism spectrum. Overall, 50,000 teenagers with autism leave school each year, and there are now approximately 2.5 million adults with autism living in the U.S. However, under-representation in the workforce is now endemic for this group; global underemployment and unemployment for individuals with autism is up to 90 percent - a situation that has remained unchanged for decades. Knowing these statistics, businesses looking to expand their diversity-focused initiatives now have an opportunity to create progressive hiring strategies to help facilitate change.
The benefits of hiring individuals with autism
Hiring people with disabilities, like autism, can bring unique experiences and understanding that can help to transform a workplace. This can ensure new and innovative approaches to problem-solving, as well as helping to enhance products and services.
Some of the common strengths and skill sets that individuals with autism possess include:
Strong visual skills
Committed and consistent approach to work
Above average intelligence
Individuals with disabilities, including non-apparent disabilities like autism, also tend to have lower attrition rates and fewer absences. With an unemployment rate for adults with autism ranging from 80-90 percent, this is just one of many large, untapped talent pools of individuals with disabilities that companies should be sure to account for.
Ensure your organization is showing your commitment to hiring individuals with disabilities
Seeing your organization’s effort and commitment to hiring individuals with disabilities will also increase existing staff members’ willingness to self-disclose. Employees, who know of or have a family member or friend with a disability, will also develop a stronger appreciation for an employer who is invested in hiring this population.
Employers must remember that inclusion is the most important piece to achieving success when hiring individuals with autism or any disability. Inclusion can be implemented and demonstrated through actions like providing accommodations. One example would be providing a quiet space for the interview and work area. This is an accommodation that other employees and candidates with noise sensitivity may benefit from, and could therefore increase productivity and success in interviews.