Leading companies challenge traditional recruitment in favour of inclusion

Tue 20 February 2018

A recent story by CBS News highlights the growing acceptance of people with autism in U.S. workplaces. As well as being a feel-good story about the benefits of meaningful employment for people with disability, it raises important issues about inclusive hiring processes and what the future of recruitment looks like.

Inclusion starts at recruitment

The story begins with an introduction to twenty-seven-year-old Christopher Pauley. A former spelling bee champion and computer science graduate who, not through lack of trying, just couldn’t secure a job. He couldn’t even get past the interview stage.

The issue was that Pauley was made to participate in conventional interviews, which inherently showcase a candidate’s social and communication skills over their ability to perform the essential requirements of a role. As a person with autism who struggles with these skills, the interview process made Pauley uncomfortable and he couldn’t compete for roles on the same footing as other candidates.

Unintended barriers such as these may prevent many people with disability from gaining meaningful employment. Here are some tips to keep in mind when interviewing a person with disability.

Leading companies are changing their hiring processes

Realising what they’d been missing out on, leading companies have come up with new ways to find and vet talented people. The story features U.S. Microsoft’s Jenny Lay-Flurrie talking about a new hiring program that actively seeks out candidates with autistic talent:

“There really is, and was, a lot of data on the table that said to us that we were missing out. We were missing out on an opportunity to bring talent in with autism.”

The story goes on to describe Microsoft’s new approach to interviewing people on the autism spectrum. With a focus on team-building exercises and tasks that require complex problem-solving, the company has created an interview environment that assists people with autism to perform at their best.

Leading Australian organisations, such as the Department of Defence, are also making an impact through similar programs aimed at attracting and increasing employment opportunities for people with disability.

Every business can make recruitment more inclusive

Across the globe, there’s a significant amount of work going into disability employment. In fact, the CBS News story reported:

“Last April, 50 big-name companies – including JP Morgan,Ford and Ernst & Young – came together for a summit [hosted by software company SAP] on how to bring more autistic adults into the workforce.”

It’s clear that ‘Big Business’ is making disability inclusion a priority. And, it’s not because they want to do people with disability any favours. They’ve seen the business benefits that come from hiring people with disability and the innovation that can come from their unique experiences.

While not every business is in a position to create targeted employment programs and design bespoke interview scenarios, every business is in a position to make their recruitment processes more inclusive. From application to induction, there are ways organisations can ensure they’re not excluding people with disability from job opportunities. Australian Network on Disability (AND) provides a recruitment review service to help identify unintended barriers and ensure a more inclusive hiring process.

For the full segment about The Growing Acceptance of Autism in the Workplace, visit the CBS News website. 

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