People with disabilities are chronically underemployed in this country, which means British businesses are missing out on a pool of talented recruits. Neurodiversity is case in point. Autistic people consistently struggle to get work, with only 16 per cent in full time employment, according to the National Autistic Society.
Last year, magic circle law firm Linklaters started using the services of Auticon, a for-profit organisation that places highly skilled, but underemployed, people on the autistic spectrum into the workplace. So far, the neurodiverse workers have been placed in the tech team, supporting lawyers across the business on a spot engagement basis. The results have been promising, says Matt Peers, Linklater’s global chief operating officer.
"The accuracy of their people and attention to detail are second to none," says Peers. "We’re not doing anyone a favour, we’re bringing people with some great skills into the workplace and they’re being remunerated properly."
Peers says the key is to train your existing staff in how to work with neurodiverse people. In Linklaters’ case, Auticon sends coaches to the site to support and train them.
"It doesn’t take a long time to get used to. We had one person who doesn’t like to be approached from the left hand side. There was another individual who, if you asked him how he was, would probably take the next day off sick because he’d find it very stressful. You’ve just got to train people about that. In that particular case, all you have to do is talk to him about the work and avoid the small talk, and he’s fine.
"You shouldn’t underestimate the value for the existing staff who take part either. For them to work in different environments with different people is good for their training and outlook," adds Peers.
For more information
This article explains what’s required to be a disability confident employer. For legal information about reasonable adjustments, see this guide. For more information about the autistic spectrum, see the National Autistic Society.
Image credit: rawpixel.com/Pexels