Vodafone has become the largest company in Europe to actively seek out individuals with high functioning Autistic spectrum disorders due to adeptness in blue sky thinking and understanding code.
IT companies have long been reaping the benefits of selecting candidates who have high functioning autism because the condition itself promotes ‘outside the box’ and original thinking often misunderstood by employers in other sectors.
Some of the most brilliant minds of our time have had an ASD, take Alan Turing OBE, a British Mathematician who was responsible for cracking the Enigma code used by Germany during World War Two, he is also dubbed as the father of Computer Science.
More recently, Gary McKinnon, responsible for the largest computer hack in history, infiltrated US Government computers whilst looking for proof of the existence of UFO’s, and diagnosed with Aspergers in 2008.
According to a survey conducted by The National Autism Society (NAS), only 15% of individuals with Autism are in full time employment, but most are willing , and able to work. Part of the problem is the way ASD affects social communications, and the “soft” skills that are highly prized in today’s workplaces.
As the NAS points out, autism is also usually a “hidden” disability, and so colleagues and bosses might not even know someone is autistic – just that they struggle to fit in.
Vodafone are playing a vital role in training on-floor managers to develop their skills to be able to relate to Autistic individuals, some of which have difficulty reading facial expressions and in particular body language.
In May, German software giant SAP announced their intention to hire over 160 individuals with ASDs. The company expects 1 percent of its 65,000-person global workforce to be people with autism by 2020.
Company executive Luisa Delgado, said: “Only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st century.”