Here, SAP Canada
employee Lydie Eustache sheds some light on the issue, offering candid advice to HR managers about the pros and cons of initiating an autism program:
An opportunity of a lifetime
I am a mom-of-two with a solid education in computer network administration and security, and I work for SAP Canada
as a Quality Associate for wearable technologies. For an autistic person to be saying such a thing is still rather rare and wonderful. SAP’s Autism at Work program, which will ultimately lead to autistic people making up on 1% of its global workforce, gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.
It’s not easy for people on the autism spectrum to secure and hold down jobs. Not only am I happy to have found a job I can perform well in, but it’s also one that is suited to my interests and allows me to make an important contribution. The job has impacted my life in many positive ways. Making a good living for myself has lifted a heavy weight off my shoulders, and I can proudly tell people what I do for work when they ask me. I am setting an example to my kids and I can give them everything they want. There is generally a much stronger sense of worth in my life.
Serving the business
It was a big leap of faith for SAP to set up the Autism at Work program, but it’s paying off by bringing really strong, long-lasting mutual benefits to the company. This isn’t an altruistic pursuit for SAP; it’s one that is tapping into the unique talents of people on the autism spectrum to serve the business. After a successful pilot in India, the program has spread across North America and Europe. The focus is on finding people who excel in analytical thinking, have a prolonged attention to detail, and the ability to address problems from different perspectives. These are all valuable assets in product development.
So far, SAP is proving that the concept can be successful and fully integrated into the business for its own gains. However for that to be the case, the company has had to understand the quirks of people on different levels of the autism spectrum and use that knowledge to provide them with a comfortable working environment.
People with autism often boast a rare and valuable skillset but many employers are still reluctant to implement specific recruitment initiatives because they’re uncertain of what obstacles will stand in their way before that untapped potential can be realized.