By Bernadette Wilson, on Feb 7, 2020

7 Tech Companies That Hire Autistic Adults

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) makes life more challenging than for “neurotypical” people. ASD makes it harder to communicate, build relationships, and navigate social interactions without awkwardness. Autistic adults may also have a low threshold for sensory overload, inability to adapt to change, and difficulty with executive function, including managing time, planning, and organizing.

People with ASD, however, also share some distinct advantages. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about half have average to above-average intelligence. They also may have superior attention to detail, focus, observation skills, ability to retain facts, in-depth knowledge in their areas of interest, respect for rules, and integrity.

Young people identified as having ASD often receive support at school through graduation and during higher education, if they find a college or university with programs to support them and help ensure their success. After earning college degrees, however, Autism Speaks reports that about half of young autistic adults are unemployed. Reasons can vary. Job interviews that rely heavily on face-to-face communication and making a good impression on a prospective employer may all but disqualify an autistic adult. After trying and failing, a person with ASD may not even apply for positions for which they are qualified, fearing the outcome will be negative. Furthermore, autistic adults who are hired, sometimes for entry-level work that doesn’t match their education or abilities, may have trouble keeping that job and building a career.

Technology, for Some, the Perfect Fit

Autistic adults, as with any people entering the workforce, need to find careers that align with their skills and interests, position them for success, and build self-esteem and confidence.

One viable career path for people with ASD is the technology space. Some have found that technology “can truly be the perfect career choice for autistic individuals who have a flair for all things computers.” Furthermore, in this field “there is often little need for social interaction,” allowing the autistic adult to work independently with just a computer.

Still, for the autistic adult to thrive and contribute value to a business or organization, the employer must understand these employees, the support they need to succeed, and the contributions they can make to their companies.

Companies that Get It

These enterprises are excellent examples of employers with successful programs for hiring and employing autistic adults:

SAP

SAP’s Autism at Work, established in 2013, was one of the first programs focused on hiring employees on the autism spectrum. The program removes barriers that autistic adults face when interviewing, onboarding, and adapting to a new job. SAP attributes its 90 percent employee retention rates through the program to the support it provides, including mentorship.

Microsoft

The Microsoft Autism Hiring Program demonstrates the company’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. Any role at Microsoft is open to applicants through the program, including software engineer, service engineer, build engineer, lab engineer, data analyst, and data scientist Microsoft provides all new hires with support including a job coach and Microsoft mentors. The program also includes an internship program for university students.

IBM

The IBM Ignite Autism Spectrum Disorder Program employs adults with autism and leverages their talents to provide value to IBM clients. The program offers support through onboarding and adapting to their new roles, including providing headphones that can minimize auditory overload. Additionally, IBM’s Watson application “Content Clarifier” makes complex instructions clearer and easier to understand.

Dell

Dell’s Autism Hiring Program “is an opportunity to rethink the traditional interview process.” Candidates are prescreened to gauge their interest and experience. Those who are qualified are invited to participate in a two-week skills assessment that provides a clear picture of the value the applicant can offer.

Aspiritech

Aspiritech hires autistic adults to help provide software testing and quality assurance services. The company’s culture helps autistic adults successfully use their skills and build a meaningful career. As a nonprofit organization, Aspiritech can offer their employees competitive salaries as well as social programs and training.

Ultranauts

Ultranauts offers outsourced software engineering and quality assurance to a wide range of enterprises, startups, and digital consultancies. The majority of its workforce — about 75 percent — is on the autism spectrum. Ultranuts has been recognized for its innovative remote model towards employing the autism community,

Daivergent

We are proud to be on the list as well. Daivergent provides data labeling and annotation services through its talent pool of data specialists on the autism spectrum. We source talent from universities and agencies throughout the United States, and our teams provide high-quality data sets in a responsive manner.

Additionally, our platform integrates into widely used HR software such as SAP SuccessFactors and Fieldglass to enable you to source talent from vetted candidates with ASD. For tech companies that understand hiring candidates with autism is a win-win, our tool can help you find candidates that are a match for the skills you need.

They’ll bring their strengths, fill crucial roles, and increase diversity that will make your work culture richer and more inclusive. It may also give everyone at your organization a new perspective by reminding them that people don’t all work or see things in the same way. Your team will have a unique opportunity to think outside the box, which can lead to greater creativity and innovation, while learning from each other.

Opinions expressed by Daivergent contributors are their own.