World Autism Awareness Day: Now is the time for bold action
2 April 2021 — As communities come together around the globe to mark the fourteenth annual World Autism Awareness Day, AMS (formerly Alexander Mann Solutions), a global provider of talent outsourcing and advisory services, has called on international employers to ‘take bold actions’ in creating equal opportunities for neurodiverse professionals.
According to new data from the Office for National Statistics in the UK, only 22% of autistic people are currently in employment. This is a shocking statistic in itself, but when considered in line with the wide recognition that a diverse workforce can create more profitable businesses, it demonstrates why swift action is needed. Neurodiverse talent can help companies view challenges and find solutions in new and different ways and should be a critical part of a firm’s future talent strategies.
As Maxine Pillinger, Regional Managing Director, EMEA at AMS and Executive Lead for the AMS Neurodiversity and Disability Group, explained, employers need to move the neurodiversity agenda forward past the conversation stage by taking the leap into action now;
“The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) agenda has rapidly picked up pace over the last year as the world of work changed in light of the pandemic. However, when it comes to neurodiversity, progress is still slower than it should be. There’s a wide recognition across most employers of the value that a diverse workforce brings to the business, but now is the time to move beyond the conversation and take bold action. It’s fantastic that neurodiversity is on the corporate agenda, but there comes a point where firms need to take a leap of faith and implement changes – under expert guidance – and that time is now.
“At AMS we have started our neurodiversity journey and are continuing to adapt and learn as a business, but the important thing is we are challenging the norm to drive real change. We’re partnering with the National Autistic Society in the UK under its Autism at Work programme to create a number of new roles for autistic candidates. Under this activity, we’re working with the charity to review and adapt our recruitment and on-boarding process – and we’ll be passing on our learnings to the global employers we work with to help create fairer opportunities for all. Our teams are also supporting an initiative in Berlin, partnering with local autism organisation, Diversicon, with our colleagues volunteering their time and recruitment expertise to run workshops – delivered under guidance from the organisation’s training coaches – to help prepare autistic individuals for the recruitment process and employment We’re not only giving practical advice to help get more people past the initial screening and interview process, but also developing a better understanding ourselves into how recruitment can be adapted to be mor inclusive for neurodiverse candidates..
“It’s important to add that making adjustments to the recruitment process and creating a more inclusive working environment for neurodiverse individuals doesn’t require a huge financial investment. Sometimes small steps such as offering flexible working options, noise-cancelling headphones and a dedicated desk or quiet space can have a significant, positive impact on these individuals.”
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