One of the benefits of the global pandemic for autistic individuals is a dramatic rise in the public awareness and discussion of mental illness and mental health. For decades, disorders like autism have been on the fringe of society, but working from home and the impact of lost socialisation has meant that more people are talking about their own mental health conditions, and this has encouraged neurodiverse voices to be heard. However, there is a large difference between autism awareness and autism acceptance, and there are many steps to take to ensure that autistic people get to take their rightful place in society.
Autistic Employment Benefits Everyone
One of the easiest ways to move towards autism acceptance everywhere is to make hiring autistic workers part of mainstream recruitment strategies. At the moment, it’s the big multinationals like JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft and SAP who have realised the massive potential that autistic employees bring to the table and who have set up dedicated autism hiring programs. It won’t be long before this trend trickles down to businesses across British Columbia, and hiring autistic workers benefits everyone:
- Autistic individuals – it’s estimated that almost 80% of British Columbia’s autistic adult population is either unemployed or underemployed, meaning that they’re in work that doesn’t pay them for their skills and experience. When autistic individuals get hired, it not only gives them a confidence boost, but gives them some personal freedom. It makes them less reliant on their friends and families for financial support, as well as giving them more control over their own lives. Regardless of their support needs, hiring autistic workers also shows others autistic individuals that change and acceptance is possible.
- The hiring company – businesses who hire autistic workers notice the benefits almost immediately. To start with, they see an improvement in communication across the company, which stems from a need for simplified, concrete meetings and conversations. Secondly, they see an increase in empathy as everyone has to take account of each other’s needs and accommodation. Finally, there is a greater discussion about mental health and wellbeing from all employees as they begin to see the strengths of neurodiversity in the workplace.
- Society at large – finally, hiring autistic people makes society at large a better place. Given the shockingly low employment rates for autistic adults across the province, many autistic individuals end up taking some form of welfare. Each person who gets a full time, well paying job is one less burden on the welfare system. They also represent an increase in the overall tax base for the province, as well as having some disposable income to put into the local economy. The whole province would be a better place if the employment rates for autistic people matched those of the neurotypical society at large.
Employing People On The Autism Spectrum
With all these benefits to just about every part of British Columbia, it can be hard to work out why the employment rate for autistic people is so low. However, there are many barriers that they face to getting into employment, from negative subconscious stereotypes to application and interview processes that are heavily biased towards neurotypical jobseekers. Many companies who are thinking about employing people on the autism spectrum turn to professional help from autism talent management agencies. These dedicated teams of experts help companies with:
- Recruitment – autism talent management agencies in Vancouver will have a list of prequalified autistic workers ready for just about any position. They’ll also know where to advertise to find new recruits, so a lot of the legwork of getting autistic applicants into the right position will already be done by the time a company decides to hire.
- Training – just like any other demographic, autistic workers will need training for the job that they’re taking on so that they can be successful in their position. For many of them, this will be their first experience of the modern workplace, so an autism talent mangement agency will also provide general training on how to survive the commute and thrive in an office based environment.
- Onboarding – once the autistic employee starts their new position, there is still work to be done to make sure that they are retained. An autism talent management agency will work with the hiring company to make sure that all necessary and appropriate accommodations are made, and that training is available for supervisors and colleagues. In this way, the employment is a success, and a signal is sent out that autism acceptance is one step closer.