Thinking differently about diversity and talent at Infosys

Tue 28 August 2018

Man in business attire leans down to use a computer. A woman stands beside him, watching.

Image (courtesy of Aspect Capable): Anthony started as an intern at Infosys and is now a Systems Engineer. 

It’s been one year since five exceptionally skilled and talented people started paid internships with Infosys in their Validation Solutions team at Westpac’s Kogarah innovation centre and Kent Street corporate offices. A talent pipeline of people on the autism spectrum has proved highly successful; all five who started as interns have continued in their employment.

Infosys’ Diversity and Inclusion Council said in their newsletter:

‘What came through most strongly is that these interns are motivated, talented, and have the right competencies to succeed at Infosys. This is no longer solely a Diversity initiative, this is a Talent initiative that has the potential to connect us with a hitherto untapped and rich candidate pool.’

Infosys is a global leader in consulting, technology, outsourcing and next-generation services. With a strong commitment to diversity globally, inclusion of people with disability in Australia is a relatively new area of focus. Following an introduction to the Australian Network on Disability (AND), Infosys joined the High Growth Jobs Talented Candidates project in NSW. With many of Infosys’ clients being members of AND (e.g. Westpac, NAB, ANZ and Telstra), the connection helped Infosys build a more diverse team to fulfil their business approach to ‘think differently’, and address local skills shortages.

Infosys was keen to see if people on the autism spectrum could be a good source of talent for the business. AND had already successfully partnered with Aspect Capable to source, prepare and support candidates on the autism spectrum for other employers in their High Growth Jobs project.

Many adults on the autism spectrum face significant barriers to gaining employment due to an inability to perform well in traditional methods of recruitment such as short, anxiety-provoking interviews. AND, Aspect Capable and Infosys collaborated to explore creative means of preparing and selecting candidates and decided a three-month internship would be the best means to test their suitability for ongoing employment.

Anthony was one of the candidates selected for the program. Describing his attempts to search for jobs as ‘fraught with anxiety’ and enough to ‘send me into a panic’, the internship gave Anthony a unique opportunity to apply his strong academic credentials and demonstrate his valuable skills. Anthony said:

‘When I was offered the role, I felt really relieved. Given that the whole idea of getting a job had become something of an insurmountable problem in my mind, it felt a very big relief to actually be offered a job.’

Anthony is now making the most of his role as an Infosys Systems Engineer, thanks to the ongoing support of his team and a work environment that enables him to perform at his best.

‘I mainly enjoy the problem-solving aspect. Every time I am given a new project, it is a bit frightening at first, but once I fully understand the task and have an idea in my head of how to carry it out, it is always very fulfilling to develop the algorithm, and find clever ways to meet the requirements of the project,’ he said.

Eight candidates commenced an eight-day pre-employment training and selection program co-designed with AND, Aspect Capable and Infosys in July 2017. This was delivered part-time over four weeks to accommodate the candidates’ university studies (all were studying at Bachelor or Master level). The first four days included an introduction to Infosys, including a tour of the Westpac work site and work readiness training, which included identifying any workplace adjustments. The remaining four days comprised technical training and assessment specific to software testing. This included input from Infosys and was delivered by an IT specialist with experience training people on the autism spectrum. Infosys’ technical staff attended most of these sessions and used the final two days to select five of the eight candidates as interns.

The exposure to the candidates over the four days was critical for Infosys’ Portfolio Managers to observe the candidates’ learning abilities, as well as engage in informal conversation about their studies, interests and other work-related experiences. Infosys was deeply impressed with the candidates’ intelligence and capacity to perform the roles required. A standard interview process would not have given the candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their proficiency, and the hands-on exercises meant they were far more comfortable to speak confidently to the Portfolio Managers. 

Infosys and Westpac Group supervisors and co-workers also received disability confidence training from AND and Aspect Capable before candidates started their internships. Candidates also received post-placement support from Aspect Capable during their first six months of employment. The project was funded by the NSW Government as part of the High Growth Jobs Talented Candidates project delivered by AND from 2015 to 2017.

Since participating in High Growth Jobs, Infosys has joined AND as a Gold Member and is continuing its Australian journey to be accessible and inclusive of people with disability. Infosys (in conjunction with Westpac) was also named as a finalist in the prestigious industry Paragon Awards in early 2018, with the internship program the backbone of their nomination. Infosys is now replicating the model in Melbourne with AND Gold Member, Telstra.

Find out more about AND membership.

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