Why Indian corporates need to start investing in autistic talent
The 3L&3S has in the past featured pieces on the importance of diversity in teams at the workplace not just from an inclusion perspective but also in terms of bringing fresh insight and creativity to problem solving. Whilst we usually think about gender, race, religion, here’s a piece by Gopika Kapoor on how the differently abled can also add value in the workplace. She specifically focuses on how employees with autism can contribute if organisations can create the right environment for them.
“What if I told you that there is a huge pool of talented individuals whom you can hire, who are loyal, diligent employees, who are extremely focused on their work and don’t waste time hanging out by the coffee machine, who abstain from office politics and Machiavellian schemes to plot a colleague’s downfall, and, who will work on something till they get it right? I’m sure you’d jump at the chance to bring them on board immediately.
Now, if I told you that these employees are on the autism spectrum, that they may have issues with communication, they may need fixed cubicles instead of floating desks, and that while they may excel at work, you can’t rely on them to make small talk – would you still hire them?
….The number of autistic people in India is estimated to be more than 2 million. However, in a country where the subject of mental health continues to be shrouded in taboo, there is little discussion on the subject. This explains why, unlike a lot of countries in the West, India has made slow steps to jump onto the autism hiring bandwagon, despite the obvious advantages. SAP, JP Morgan Chase, Ernst & Young and a few other companies have instituted Autism at Work departments that strive to create a seamless transition and an autism-friendly work environment for employees who are hired by them. However, its purpose is not about being charitable; hiring autistic employees makes economic sense. Companies hiring people on the spectrum have reported thousands of rupees in savings, projects completed in half the estimated time or less, and errors fixed that have resulted in better, more efficient ways to work.”
Gopika then talks about specific things our organisations can do to create an environment where autistic employees can thrive.