On International Asperger’s Day, focusing on why the tech world needs diverse talent
- Posted on February 18, 2021
- Estimated reading time 2 minutes
International Asperger’s Day is marked every year on Feb. 18. In recent years, there has been a strong focus on autism research and organizations have also started to reap the benefits of a highly diverse and inclusive work environment by introducing neurodiversity inclusion programs.
When we talk about "neurodiversity," we refer to the way the brain can work and interpret information. It highlights that people naturally perceive and think differently about things and that our brain being “wired” differently is simply another variation in humans.
For that reason alone, neurodiversity can make a particularly important contribution to overall diversity of thought.
The term “neurodiversity” covers the whole autistic spectrum (inclusive of Asperger’s Syndrome), but also includes conditions such as dyslexia and dyscalculia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Tourette's syndrome.
However, to understand if and how our perception of neurodiversity has changed in the workplace, more than just defining neurodiversity, it is necessary to talk about it, normalize the conversation around it and raise awareness of the many benefits neurodiverse individuals can bring to our organizations.
First and foremost, we must be aware and acknowledge any bias (whether conscious or unconscious) and then free ourselves from the prejudice that sees it as synonymous of disability. We must then replace such prejudice and stereotypes with a vision that values and gives space to everyone's talents, identifying roles suitable to their abilities.
We live in a world that is constantly changing, not least the very rapid change that COVID-19 has imposed on the labor market. Within a radically changed socio-economic framework, jobs closely linked to technology and digital will be increasingly strategic to allow companies to change pace and grow, as well as growing the demand for professionals with very vertical and highly specialized skills.
Great accuracy, attention to detail, analytical skills and focus on specific activities are fundamental skills for the IT industry and are often features present in most high-functioning autistic people or Asperger's. Many companies have noticed this enormous unexpressed potential and have started projects and collaborations with specialized agencies to include people with these skills within their staff: It is not "just" a question of becoming more inclusive. Welcoming and enhancing neurodiversity of all kinds also means ensuring a competitive advantage in terms of approach to technology, innovation and creativity.
So how are we embracing neurodiversity at Avanade?
Last year, in this article by Fabrizio Mazzucchi, we announced the start of a project that allowed some people with Asperger's syndrome to work in Avanade Italy, supporting our customers. We are delighted to share the testimony of Laura Urso, who joined our team as a tester last year: "Working at Avanade has promoted my professional growth, allowing me to fully express my potential by valuing and enhancing my personal characteristics, in an inclusive team respectful of who I am."
Today, we are proud to announce that that project is transforming into a training program that will include about 10 people. After they are hired and onboarded into the company, they will join a structured and highly personalized program that will last several months. The program will be developed thanks to the collaboration of Specialisterne, an organization that deals with the development and integration of autistic people into the world of work, with a particular focus on programming, software testing and data management.
Our goal is to help change the perception of neurodiversity by identifying people's talent beyond stereotypes. We are confident that the colleagues we will welcome in the coming months will make a positive contribution to our working environment and that they will enrich Avanade with new skills, ways of thinking and abilities.