Three years ago, the global tech company SAP announced the launch of its “Autism at Work” project with a pilot location in Germany. Now the project is running in ten locations worldwide. SAP has newly-hired 23 individuals on the spectrum since that time,, and all have stayed (except for one who had to leave due to serious illness). This is an incredible example of how informed hiring and targeted support can lead to success in the workplace.
“People with autism can work very well under certain conditions, but now and again, they need people to help them,” [Stefanie Lawitzke] says. However, the training needs to be right to secure one of those jobs in development, quality management, or service and support that particularly seem to inspire people with autism. SAP is currently running the Autism at Work initiative at 10 locations in eight countries – a real exception in business, where so few companies concern themselves with the one percent of society that is classed as being on the autistic spectrum.
SAP’s commitment to diversifying their workforce is impressive–to say the least. The company’s Diversity and Inclusion values statement on Differently Abled People is right on point:
This focus topic shows that SAP values the inclusion of people with disabilities greatly, and focuses on highlighting each person’s individual talents rather than their limitations. SAP supports the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and follows a world-wide action plan that will raise the awareness of inclusion and how to handle it within the company. This includes SAP’s internationally recognized Autism at Work program. Over 100 people diagnosed with autism are currently working at SAP, and our company already received the Disability Matters EU Award in 2015.
I can only hope that EPIC Players Theater Company–a unique mix of talented performers with and without autism–will follow in SAP’s footsteps and provide meaningful professional opportunities for my daughter Samantha and the rest of the cast. Hopefully, EPIC will enable people with disabilities to share their talents with the world and also win some awards for diversity and inclusion!