Just as Microsoft makes its technology available to other companies to help them achieve more, it is doing the same with its model for hiring people with autism.
April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism Spectrum Disorder affects one percent of the world’s population, about 3.5 million, or one out of 59 American births according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Autism Society.
Autism Spectrum Disorder encompasses a range of conditions that present challenges with speech, social skills, non-verbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. On the flip side, many people with autism possess unique strengths in other areas that enable them to excel in certain disciplines.
Unfortunately, according to Easter Seals, 80% of people with autism are either unemployed or underemployed. Consequently, the skills and contributions that they would bring to many companies and to the products and services those companies offer are lost.
To address this untapped resource and to foster a culture of empathy and inclusion, Microsoft — on Autism Awareness Day in 2015 — established its Autism Hiring Program. This year, parallel to its commitment to open sourcing its technologies and tools to create a “Microsoft platform” that companies integrate into their businesses, the company is “democratizing” its Autism Hiring program. The goal is to bring more people with autism to the workforce so that they and the companies they join can achieve more.