Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a spectrum, and no two people are the same, just as no two neurotypical people are the same. However, traits of autism are strengths, and as a company with a focus on enabling diversity in the workplace, this guide aims to share insights and advice on autism in the workplace and offer employment opportunities to autistic adults.
Autism is a complex developmental disability which impacts how individuals perceive their surroundings, as well as their interactions with others. Autism is a lifelong disability, and is referred to as a spectrum, as people are affected in different severities and ways. This means that there are all kinds of different areas autistic people may require additional support or adjustments in the workplace.
Traits associated with autism are highly valuable in the workplace and beyond, something that employers may not be aware of or educated about.
Spectrum, an online magazine featuring news and expert opinion on autism research, says: “A growing number of researchers argue that many, possibly even most, autistic people show certain advantages, such as an unusual ability to pay attention to visual and auditory information, directness or a strong moral compass.”
Autistica, the UK’s national autism research charity, also lists some strengths of autistic people that are beneficial in the workplace, including:
Autism.org also lists some further skills offered by autistic candidates, including:
Given these strengths, autistic people make fantastic employees and potentially perform even better than individuals without autism with the right support. The National Autistic Society offers guidance for employers and says:
“Many autistic people have a variety of sometimes exceptional skills that enable them to thrive.”
Offering employment opportunities for autistic adults not only benefits autistic people but also your company as it helps to demonstrate that you have a diverse and inclusive team. ClearTalents offers a valuable toolkit for businesses to use to widen their talent pool, increase their inclusivity and attract neurodivergent applicants. Find out more about our inclusive recruitment tool.
Tech companies are leading the way in hiring people with autism. Microsoft, for example, launched an Autism hiring program in 2016. The company recently expanded the program, which is now the Microsoft Neurodiversity Hiring Program.
Microsoft said: “We built the Microsoft Neurodiversity Hiring Program on the belief that neurodivergent individuals strengthen a workforce with innovative thinking and creative solutions.
“Diverse teams positively impact our company culture, working environment and how we serve our customers,” Microsoft
Auticon is a UK-based company that recruits, trains, and employs autistic people to provide a neurodiverse workforce to improve their client’s IT projects. They state “our hybrid on-site and off-site teams utilise the cognitive benefits of autism to provide the sustained concentration and analytical mindset to add unique insights into complex IT solutions”
However, we should not limit employment opportunities for autistic people to the technology industry alone. The National Autistic Society references “roles ranging from sales assistant to computer programmer, and journalist to statistician, to name just a few.”
Directness, honesty, and loyalty are common autistic traits that any organisation should welcome.
Despite their strengths and valuable traits, there is still an employment gap for autistic people. In 2021, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) published data showing that just 22% of adult autistic people are in any kind of employment. A key issue is the recruitment process.
Barriers during recruitment included a lack of reasonable adjustments, such as companies relying on CVs, work experience, and face-to-face interviews. 75% regularly experienced an obvious lack of interest from interviewers.
The National Autistic Society points to further barriers during recruitment processes that may hinder their employment opportunities, including:
Making reasonable adjustments through the recruitment process and at work can enable autistic people to shine and remove any unintentional barriers that may be preventing autistic people from applying or being successful. ClearTalents can help you to zoom in on each step of the recruitment process and help you to adjust the workplace, to ensure you are expanding your talent pool and attracting a diverse workforce.
According to the British Medical Association, there are approximately 700,000 autistic people in the UK, according to the British Medical Association, or 1 in 100, says the National Autistic Society. One in four autistic people is also undiagnosed, according to research.
ClearTalents enables people to self-report challenges they face at work and helps to identify adjustments that may benefit them. It also doesn’t require a diagnosis.
ClearTalents offers businesses a simple digital tool that makes it straightforward for individuals to self-disclose any neurotypical needs and reasonable adjustments they require in the workplace in a structured, safe way, so they feel comfortable.
Employees can use our inclusion profiles to identify the types of support they require by identifying statements they relate to in our passports. For autism in the workplace, this can be hugely beneficial for adults with a range of difficulties to pinpoint areas that they require support, so businesses can offer reasonable adjustments accordingly.