Supporting Autism at Work: advice from auticon
auticon is the world’s largest autistic-majority company. They exclusively employ autistic adults as technology consultants. They believe their success as an IT consultancy is a result of the company’s neurodiversity.
This page has been created in partnership with auticon. Discover how they’ve created a workplace that supports and empowers autistic and neurodivergent talent.
This page contains:
- Why neuro-inclusion matters
- How auticon approaches neuro-inclusion
- The proven impact of a neuro-inclusive workplace
- The negative impacts of exclusion on employees and companies
- Practical tips for supporting autistic employees
- The business benefits of taking action on neuro-inclusion
- Success stories
- Further reading
With neuro-inclusive practices, we can address this social problem. Inclusive organizations also benefit from diversity of thought that neurodivergent talent brings.
In this video, three auticon consultants discuss some of the stereotypes and barriers they’ve encountered in the workforce.
How auticon approaches neuro-inclusion
Like Texthelp, auticon’s motivation for neuro-inclusion is personal.
Their mission to improve employment opportunities for autistic individuals began from a father’s vision of a more inclusive world for his autistic son. Today, they employ nearly 500 autistic individuals across 14 countries. Their consultants work for some of the world’s top companies as software engineers, data analysts, cybersecurity specialists, and more.
- The company designed an autism-friendly hiring process. It's free of traditional interviews and focuses on getting to know each candidate and their technical abilities. Once hired, auticon consultants are matched with roles at client companies that suit their skills and personal strengths.
- There, they receive ongoing support from auticon’s job coaches and technical delivery managers.
- The auticon team also provides autism awareness training for clients that focuses on best practices for working with autistic colleagues.
This combination of employee support and client education helps break down the barriers that autistic employees face in many workplaces. By taking a holistic approach, organizations can create environments that are truly inclusive of neurodivergent people.
The proven impact of a neuro-inclusive workplace
- For employees
- For businesses
Inclusive employment is life-changing for autistic professionals. According to auticon’s 2022 Global Impact Report:
- 92% of auticon consultants feel supported at work.
- 91% feel valued for who they are.
- 79% feel more confident.
- 83% report improved well-being.
- 87% say they have experienced an improved quality of life since joining auticon.
As more companies commit to assessing their current practices and making changes to become neuro-inclusive, they will be better prepared to support their autistic and neurodivergent employees. At the same time, they will be able to build their reputation as an inclusive employer and become a destination for neurodivergent talent.
Research shows that
only 44% of autistic professionals across the world feel they can be their authentic selves at work.
82% of auticon consultants feel they can be their authentic selves at work.
When autistic employees are not adequately supported, they often experience negative effects that include:
When autistic people mask their autism they consciously or unconsciously suppress their natural autistic responses. This is in an attempt to present in a way that’s neurotypical, as many feel this is how they’re more likely to be accepted.
Here Reshma Dhawan, Lead Job Coach at auticon US, speaks on the detrimental effects of masking for the autistic community.
Failing to support autistic and neurodivergent employees also has negative implications for companies, including:
- Employee dissatisfaction.
- Employee turnover.
- Costs associated with replacing employees, which can range from one-half to twice the employee’s annual salary.
- The potential for legal disputes, which are costly and can harm a company’s reputation.
Practical tips for supporting autistic employees
The antidote to exclusion is to proactively practice neuro-inclusion. In a neuro-inclusive work environment, autistic and neurodivergent employees feel accepted, respected, supported, and valued. They can bring their full selves to work and thrive in their roles.
The importance of an inclusive culture
Often, companies that are just beginning their journey with neurodiversity want to start by encouraging their employees to disclose their neurodiversity.
However, it’s crucial to first create a safe environment for neurodivergent employees where they feel comfortable to be themselves. And to also understand how to best support those employees when they do disclose.
auticon’s 2023 Neurodiversity at Work survey found that 70% of employed autistic people have disclosed their autism to someone at work. For example, a manager (68%) or trusted colleague (62%). However, only 30% said they have disclosed to HR. “I unknowingly hid my symptoms well,” said one respondent.
Texthelp’s survey of neurodivergent workers sheds additional light on this issue. The survey found that when neurodivergent employees choose not to disclose, it’s because they:
- Worry it would negatively impact their career (44%).
- Are concerned their managers and colleagues would view them differently (42%).
- Don’t want to share this private information with their employers (32%).
- Are unsure of how to raise the topic (19%).
- Had a previous negative experience when sharing their neurodivergence at work (19%).
- Don’t know how to explain their condition (11%).
These concerns demonstrate the prevalence of workplace cultures where there is no system in place to include and support autistic employees. They also show the importance of building inclusive and supportive workplaces where employees feel safe disclosing and expressing their needs.
When it comes to neuro-inclusion, actions extend across the company’s policies, practices, and all stages of the employee lifecycle.
Some of the key qualities and actions that distinguish neuro-inclusive companies include:
- A demonstrated commitment to neurodiversity and neuro-inclusion, with leadership buy-in.
- A documented neuro-inclusion plan with a timeline, budget, and goals, ideally in partnership with a neuro-inclusion advisor.
- Engaging neuro-inclusion training for key teams including human resources, diversity & inclusion, leadership, and managers.
- A psychologically safe environment where neurodivergent employees feel comfortable disclosing and requesting accommodations.
- An approach to universal accommodations that all staff can access and benefit from, with no disclosure required. As an example, inclusive technology allows all employees to think, learn and work in their own way. It offers instant and discreet support, which empowers everyone to reach their full potential. Other common examples include remote work, flexible schedules, custom desk setups, providing meeting agendas and recaps in writing, and allowing employees to stay off-camera during video calls.
Discover 3 ways you can make a difference in your workplace
- Company growth & success
- Uniquely talented employees
The power of inclusion
In this video, Ian Corbett, a Data Analyst at auticon, shares how neuro-inclusive employment helps break the cycle of underemployment for autistic professionals.
His story also highlights what happens when autistic individuals are empowered to use their skills to the fullest.
For more than a decade, auticon has partnered with major companies around the world to hire and support autistic technology talent on their teams.
These client success stories show the benefits of neuro-inclusive employment for both employees and employers.
By prioritizing neurodiversity, medication access company CoverMyMeds found that “we’ve also been able to grow as a company. We’ve witnessed increased awareness of and support for those on the autism spectrum. As a result, we’ve been able to better manage our teams, which may include employees who are autistic.”
Fortune 100 company Nationwide found success in employing four autistic data analysts to execute a large and complex data migration project. The team was provided with on-the-job training on a platform used for the project. This training and experience unlocked new skills and career growth for a group of talented autistic professionals who were previously underemployed.
When Big Four accounting firm KMPG moved to a cloud-based smart audit platform, it engaged a team of skilled autistic professionals to work on the project. The new team members made use of their outstanding abilities in prolonged concentration, attention to detail, and pattern recognition. By enabling the autistic colleagues to focus on their strengths, KMPG found that “they have produced great results and become key members of our team.”
Finding success with inclusive technology
As highlighted above, KPMG value the strengths of neurodivergent talent. Part of their strategy to ensuring a workplace where their diverse workforce is supported, is providing inclusive technology. Specifically, Texthelp’s Read&Write for Work software. Discover how the software helps them to create an inclusive environment where their people can flourish.
Are you ready to take the next steps toward building a neuroinclusive workplace? Check out the below resources from auticon and Texthelp for additional insight and guidance.
- Neuroinclusion Services from auticon (including customized assessments, advisory services, neurodiversity training, and job coaching)
- auticon’s Guide to Neuroinclusion in the Workplace: A 360° Approach
- auticon's Blog: Perspectives on Neurodiversity & Technology
- Autism: In Conversation with auticon Podcast
- Inclusive Technology from Texthelp
- Texthelp’s Guide to Inclusion in the Workplace
- Texthelp’s Guide to Unlocking Neurodiversity in Your Workplace
- Texthelp’s Guide to Disability Inclusion in Recruitment & Beyond