A quiet revolution is taking place in inclusive hiring practices all over the country in the big multinational firms. Companies like SAS, JP Morgan Chase and Microsoft have all created neurodiverse employment opportunities to tap into the vast talent pool of autistic adults across the country. Here in British Columbia, autism employment rates make for worrying reading. It’s estimated that around 50,000 adults in the province have been diagnosed somewhere on the spectrum, but only 20% of them are in work that makes use of their full skills and qualifications. In part this is due to the volume of negative stereotypes surrounding autism, while another part of it is due to the biases inherent in the hiring processes that favor neurotypical applicants. However, the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace are easy to find and more British Columbia companies will soon join the neurodiverse employment bandwagon.
Autistic individuals have to work hard to be successful in mainstream, neurotypical society. They frequently need support with organization skills and social situations, and their tendency to take things literally can make day to day overwhelming. It’s therefore unfortunate that they also have to face up to the fact that many neurotypical people have unconscious negative stereotypes about autism. These include biases against mental illness in general, judging an autistic person’s ability to do a job solely based on their diagnosis, and the tendency to dismiss the spectrum as not a real condition. In all of these cases, autistic adults need to find allies who will bust autism myths and share the truth of the uniqueness and strengths that each autistic person brings to society.
Overcoming Hiring Obstacles
Getting a job is hard enough for any neurotypical individual, but for autistic people, the challenges can sometimes be insurmountable. Firstly, job adverts are filled with must have lists that neurotypical individuals look at and try to twist their skills and experiences to match. An autistic applicant will be turned off by this list as they will understand it to mean “don’t apply if you don’t have these”. Secondly, job applications require a level of abstract communication that autistic people often find challenging. They rely on an ability to translate your current skills, qualifications and experiences to a hypothetical new job. Finally, the face to face interview, which is renowned for being a poor indicator of job performance, is rife with body language and subtle social cues that can become a minefield for autistic interviewees. Until more companies attempt to find more inclusive hiring practices, such as concrete job descriptions and task based interviews, autistic applicants will start the hiring process at an immediate disadvantage.
Why Choose Neurodiversity
All of these barriers are preventing British Columbia companies from discovering the benefits that hiring neurodiverse individuals to the workplace brings. Some of the most common benefits include:
With all of these benefits, it won’t be long before the autism employment numbers in British Columbia will begin to rise. Companies who need help and guidance will find support in autism talent management agency, who have trained autism professional to help break down negative stereotypes and create more inclusive hiring practices.