One company by the name of Auticon is making huge strides in the tech world by hiring only those who are on the autistic spectrum.
Described as an ‘international social enterprise,’ the company employs extremely talented IT experts — making sure that they offer their employees training as well as workplace adjustments to create a happy and comfortable work environment for their employees.
And Auticon is not done yet — besides the U.S. — the company has offices in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, as well as Switzerland.
This sweep of exclusive employment is a stark contrast to the national average of autistic adults.
According to the National Autistic Society – only 16 percent of autistic adults are full-time plaid employees, a stat that has not improved in close to an entire decade.
Viola Sommer, Chief Operating Officer at Auticon UK and one of the founding members of the company, spoke with UNILAD about why they are so vital in the workforce.
In regards to obstacles that people with autism face in the employment arena, Viola shared how the general recruitment processes do not take autistic people into consideration and therefore exclude them in a multitude of ways.
“Unfortunately lots of autistic people face some significant stereotypes, so when they apply to mainstream companies lots of autistic people find it difficult to succeed in the general recruitment process. Also once they’ve managed to secure a position, they often struggle to maintain it due to a lack of understanding in reasonable adjustments in typical workplaces. Typical workplaces are often designed around neuro-typical people, whereas autistic peoples’ brains are just wired differently so we need to have a flexible working environment to work for the individual and that doesn’t apply for the usual approach.”
But Auticon’s main concern is the company’s staff and how they are not only progressing, but how comfortable they are.
Viola went on to describe the ‘endless’ adjustments as being the most vital part of recognizing individuality.
“We just treat everyone as an individual and we spend a lot of time to get to know our employees to find out what kind of work environment they really need to thrive.”
Auticon also employs ‘jump coaches,’ that are in-house — a role where each coach is attuned to six to seven autistic colleagues to not only coach them into their personal development but also ensure they have all the adjustments they need in the workplace.
The jump coaches additionally help train the company’s clients to help build a more ‘neuro-diverse’ workforce, as well as build environments that help a multitude of people with varying cognitive styles.
Close to 85 percent of Auticon UK’s workforce were unemployed prior to working at the company despite having a degree — further pointing at the dark fact that their is a huge issue when it comes to employing talented autistic people.
“We have this pool of talent that are highly qualified and skilled and they have a tech shortage in the UK. It made perfect sense for us to bring the two together and to create a company like Auticon that creates working environments that really work for autistic people.” Viola shared.
This upcoming year, the company plans to launch a drive for recruitment in both London and Scotland in 2019 to search for additional autistic tech experts.
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