Daily Management Review

Microsoft joins spectrum of companies hiring autistic employees


04/08/2015




American software giant Microsoft has announced that it would start a new pilot scheme to employ autistic employees and has joined a slew of companies that are interested in diversifying their workforce.

The company’s VP of Worldwide Operations Mary Ellen Smith wrote in a company blog entry that the pilot scheme will involve hiring for at least ten full-time positions at the company’s Redmond headquarters. Ms. Smith herself is the parent of a 19-year old autistic son and is glad that her company is taking such a move.

The company has collaborated with Danish organization called Specialisterne which seeks job opportunities for autistic people to bring more diversity in its workforce. Specialisterne is currently also collaborating with German database company SAP to hire employees with autism. SAP has till now hired 30 employees with autism around in countries including Ireland, Germany, India, Canada and the US and has plans to hire more than 600 others with autism by 2020, totaling 1 percent of its global workforce.
The blog also noted on other such commitments by Microsoft to hire and maintain a diverse workforce. “We have been committed to enabling people with disabilities to be successful for a long time. We also work with Supported Employment and vendor partners to hire people for roles in event services, transportation, and food services. In these roles, we see only 1 percent attrition level.”

The company’s health benefit program is comprehensive and covers therapy for workers’ children who are diagnosed with autism. The company’s Bing fund and community partners had also previously conducted a hackathon that urged developers, designers, and experts to develop technologies which cater to autism.

More and more companies are looking at increasing diversity in their workforce as well as hiring people affected by autism as the disease characterized by social deficits and repetitive behavior lead them to have a knack for detail which will be beneficial in job such as software testing or debugging. US-based mortgage lending firm Freddie Mac offered career-track internships since 2012, including in IT, finance and research.
 
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