Google's Campaign to Hire More People with Autism
One of Google’s goals is to have more neurodivergent employees on its staff. As a matter of fact, they now view conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with particular interest. It’s the same with autism. Indeed, Silicon Valley office managers know the potential of these young people.
However, they’ve had to reformulate their approaches in order to hire more people with autism. That’s because the selection mechanisms for this population group can’t be the same as for the “neurotypical” (neologism used for non-autistic people) group. In fact, they need to make use of other approaches that adjust to the characteristics of people within the autism spectrum.
There are high unemployment rates within these groups. However, autism sufferers are valid, competent, and often endowed with particular skills. For this reason, employers should take advantage of their potential and promote their employment.
It’s important to remember that many people with autism will avoid eye contact in a job interview.
Hiring more people with autism
Autism spectrum disorder manifests itself in each person in a different way. For example, there are highly functional people who don’t even know that they’re suffering from the condition. On the other hand, there are children, young people, and dependent adults who haven’t developed any communication skills. Consequently, the autistic community makes up an extremely diverse population group.
The data regarding study rates and employability of people with autism are interesting. As a matter of fact, the University of Washington (USA) conducted research that indicates that 34.7 percent of young people with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) have attended university. However, the figures concerning their employability after education are extremely low.
Also, those who don’t obtain higher education can take years to find a job. The figures in other countries are very similar. Indeed, it simply isn’t easy for people with neurodevelopmental problems to integrate into our society. In addition, if these people find it difficult to get a job, there are other invisible disadvantaged groups who experience even more difficulties.
The empowerment of neurodivergent people
Google has started a campaign that’s already gone viral. Its aim is to hire more people with autism. They aim to collaborate with the Stanford Neurodiversity Project to empower neurodivergent people. In other words, all those young people who fall within the autism spectrum and who, due to various prejudices and barriers, can’t access jobs. This project allows them to demonstrate their potential.
As the executives of the great American multinational explain, it’s time to create more humane and diverse work environments. What does this mean? It means that we’ve long promoted corporations dominated by people with the same ways of doing things. In fact, there’s been a focus on maintaining a culture in which vulnerabilities and peculiarities remain hidden.
Therefore, disabilities, like neurodiversity in all its forms, were taboo. However, we now know that the more ways of working, conceiving, and thinking that there are, the richer an environment is. Google wants to take advantage of this and that’s why it’s seeking to hire more people with autism.
New ways of recruiting
A person with autism won’t seek eye contact with the interviewer. Nor will they know how to answer questions loaded with irony and contradiction. Furthermore, Google’s usual selection processes have always tended to be challenging. Consequently, their interviews traditionally require candidates to display determination, innovation, and good response-ability.
Until not long ago, Google focused on recruiting neurotypical people. However, now, with their new goal of hiring more people with autism, the landscape has changed.
- Interviewers have been trained to understand how a person with ASD copes and acts. It’s important that interviewers don’t misconstrue things like unusual movements, lack of eye contact, or tone of voice. In fact, there’s a great deal of variability in the autistic spectrum.
- The times allowed for the interviews have been lengthened. This gives the candidates more time.
- The candidates will be informed of all the steps they need to follow in the selection procedures. In this way, everything’s highly structured for them.
- They can express themselves in writing if they need to.
There’s one more objective. This is the aim that, once hired, these employees find a welcoming work environment. Indeed, feeling accepted and integrated is key. In this way, they’ll be able to demonstrate their potential. This also means the training of neurotypical employees to understand autism.
Hiring more people with autism promotes inclusion
Authentic inclusion normalizes and doesn’t differentiate. However, mechanisms must be put in place to make this possible. Because, while it’s true that Google now has more interview strategies in place for people with autism, they’ll still ultimately face the same challenges as anyone who wants to get a job at this tech giant.
The idea is to create a culture with optimal settings for people with autism to reveal their capabilities. This is because neurodiversity is a disorder that manifests itself in multiple ways. However, everyone needs and deserves a chance.
Creating mechanisms for their access to the labor market means creating a more inclusive world. In fact, a world where we understand that we’re all as important as each other.It might interest you...
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- Frank F, Jablotschkin M, Arthen T, Riedel A, Fangmeier T, Hölzel LP, Tebartz van Elst L. Education and employment status of adults with autism spectrum disorders in Germany – a cross-sectional-survey. BMC Psychiatry. 2018 Mar 27;18(1):75. doi: 10.1186/s12888-018-1645-7. PMID: 29580218; PMCID: PMC5870494.
- Shattuck, P. T., Narendorf, S. C., Cooper, B., Sterzing, P. R., Wagner, M., & Taylor, J. L. (2012). Postsecondary education and employment among youth with an autism spectrum disorder. Pediatrics, 129(6), 1042–1049. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2011-2864