Why Some Companies Are Trying to Hire More People on the Autism Spectrum

“The majority of those with autism are unemployed, but new pilot programs at big companies, such as EY and Microsoft, are discovering unexpected benefits from having “neurodiverse” colleagues.”

“But Austin says that ultimately these programs have to make sense for the company’s bottom line.The pilot programs — which companies go into with little expectation — have been producing good results in terms of finding new talent and productivity gains. “Ultimately, it’s not a charity thing because it’s providing far more benefit than it’s costing. Every company I know that’s gone into this in a serious way has gone into it with the idea that this is going to be net benefit positive,” he says.”

Read the whole article: Why Some Companies Are Trying to Hire More People on the Autism Spectrum

Congrats SAP, HPE, Giovani, Conner, Robert, Harkin and Humanity

Today is United Nations Human Rights Day.

I am humbled through Specialisterne Foundation to be associated with the UN and be a small gear in the giant machinery of humanity.

Today is a day to celebrate business giants SAP and HPE for their contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goal 8: Promote Sustained, Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth, Full and Productive Employment and Decent Work for All.

I was proud to be sharing the SDG 8 panel at the UN World Autism Awareness Day April 2nd this year with Jose Velasco, SAP, and Michael Fieldhouse, HPE. Together we announced a collaboration sponsored by Bill McDermott, CEO SAP, and Meg Whitman, CEO HPE, to remove some of the barriers to employment and create greater inclusion and acceptance for autistic people.

The collaboration has shown the world that employment of autistic people is the right thing to do for your business and that autistic people has a natural role to play in the labor market.

On this UN Human Rights Day, we should celebrate the story of Giovani, SAP, who was diagnosed as autistic late in life. And we should celebrate the stories of Conner and Robert, HPE, who were diagnosed as autistic while young.

Giovani, Conner and Roberts are true role models for autistic people with or without diagnosis and for employers who have not yet opened their eyes for the Autism Advantage.

Another true role model is Senator Harkin. I had the privilege to participate in the Harkin Summit where thought leaders from 31 countries were invited to share knowledge, inspire and connect with the purpose to promote disability inclusion in the global work force. We were all energized and committed to advance individual and joined efforts for a world with equal opportunities for all in the labor market.

Congratulations SAP and HPE for your business leadership.

Congratulations Giovani, Conner and Robert for your role model leadership.

Congratulations Senator Harkin for being a connector and role model for the global community.

Congratulations Humanity for governments, business leaders, foundations and grass roots organizations and individuals promoting Human Rights every day somewhere in the world.

Specialisterne is seeking funding for research to identify and remove barriers in the education system and labor market to ensure that one million autistic people in all communities and countries will get a fair opportunity to realize their potential in the labor market.

Thorkil Sonne

Founder, Specialisterne Foundation

CEO, Specialisterne USA

UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities

“After class at the university I stood up to a bully”, my son told me yesterday. After he had entertained and impressed his co-students by listing all states and all state capitals, a situation unfolded where a student was bullied.

“I wish someone had stood up, when I was being bullied at school years ago” he told me.

My son is autistic, the bully was not. Who is the disabled person?

Yesterday, taking a stand for the victim, my son turned the tables. I am so proud.

Look up “disability” in the dictionary and you will find words like: incapacity, impairment, defect… In autistic employees at companies like SAP and HPE I see: honesty, skills and resilience. I also see vulnerabilities that we as a society have to manage in order for autistic people to excel. This is not just a responsibility for employers, but for parents, the education system and the government.

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Autistic employees can give companies an edge in innovative thinking

The Guardian article on Specialisterne

“More companies are ditching the stereotypes of Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man and Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, and realising the benefits of employing people on the autism spectrum”. The benefits of hiring people with autism include: high attention to detail, high work ethic and quality of work.

The focus have been on the IT sector, where many large companies have benefited from hiring people with autism. However, the competencies of people with autism is not limited to the IT sector. Like everybody else, they have different interests and skills. Specialisterne Australia has recently launched “the Autism and Agriculture employment scheme to develop career paths for those with autism in specialist animal care roles”. Specialisterne Foundation and Specialisterne are always looking into other industries for employment opportunities for people with autism.

Autistic employees can give companies an edge in innovative thinking

How and why we should ‘learn directly from disabled people’

Learning Directly from disabled people

“Learning Directly from disabled people” was recently published by bdi. Specialisterne Foundation is a strategic partner to bdi and is proud to share the publication.

The publication is divided in three parts, it will:

“1. Help senior global business leaders understand why learning directly from disabled people is essential, and the business performance imperative

2. Give practical advice on how an organisation can create the framework to learn directly from disabled people as a matter of routine

3. Inspire colleagues with case studies from organisations that have benefited directly from the knowledge and experiences of disabled people”

You can download the publication directly on bdi’s website and receive information about future publications.


THIS WORKS Summit – Scaling Solutions for Employment and Recovery in Southern Europe

In June this year, Ashoka hosted a one day event “THIS WORKS Summit” in Brussels.

The purpose of the summit, was to show 10 examples of proven social innovations to inspire and scale new solutions across Europe, with a special focus on the recovery of Southern Europe.

Read more about the event on This Works’ website This Works Summit.

1:25 minutes into the video, Specialisterne Foundation’s director (former Specialist People Foundation), Henrik, sums up who Specialisterne is and the need for employment in Europe, in just over a minute.

Putting people with disabilities to work in Delaware

A new exciting collaboration

Specialisterne USA and The Precisionists is working together to enable jobs for people with disabilities.

Ernie Dianastasis, a now former executive in one of the largest tech companies in Delaware, CAI, is putting his life savings at risk by launching The Precisionists. The new company’s workforce will largely be made up of people with disabilities – a class of worker largely ignored by corporate America. Nearly 57 million Americans – 20 percent of the U.S. population – live with some form of physical or mental disability, including about 112,000 Delawareans. Yet the national unemployment rate for working-age people with disabilities was 11.7 percent in 2015 – more than double the rate for the non-disabled.

Read more about The Precisionists and the background in The News Journal’s article Putting people with disabilities to work in Delaware.

Are we at the beginning of a bigger movement in diversity? Find the answer in this Forbes article

Are we at the beginning of a bigger movement in diversity? Find the answer in this Forbes article The Benefits Of Recruiting Employees With Autism Spectrum Disorder

We are experiencing a new frontier in diversity programmes. Neurodiversity is a different way of thinking diversity and is slowly changing the way companies think of Human Resources.

Specialisterne Foundation

We are pleased to announce, that we have now finalised our name change in the foundation. From today and forward, our name is Specialisterne Foundation.
We want to emphasise the strong link between the foundation’s work and our local Specialisterne units across the world. We are all working towards the same goal – enabling jobs for people with autism and creating a more inclusive labour market.

We hope that our new name will create less confusion and a closer link to the work we and the different Specialisterne units do.

Blog post from Thorkil Sonne: Bigger than we are

Bigger than we are

My youngest son made me a social entrepreneur when he was diagnosed with autism. I realized that when it comes to developing and utilizing the talents of autistic people – we have a broken system. Approximately 1% of the world’s population may be autistic and face an un/underemployment rate of up to 80%.

The more I got to know my son, the more I appreciated that he was different, not less, and it was clear to us as his parents, that he deserved the same chance to realize his potential as his older brothers.

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