This October is the 70th anniversary of the National Disability Awareness Month (#NDEAM for all you twitter folk) – an initiative by the Office of Disability Employment Policy of the US Department of Labor.
While many employers are making strives towards hiring candidates with disabilities, Windows magic maker Microsoft strives to building inclusion in their organization through inclusive hiring processes, notably – their Autism Hiring Program.
Started two years ago, the Autism Hiring Program is a specific initiative by Microsoft to recruit more diverse talent, and supports the broader mission of Microsoft Global Diversity and Inclusion strategy.
Specifically, the program aims to use a multi-day, very hands on program to assess workability, projects, and team assessment that helps potential candidates on the autistic spectrum be evaluated for employment at Microsoft.
Traditional interview processes are often very challenging for those on the autistic spectrum, and employers will often misread or pass over highly qualified candidates.
Especially with challenges identifying social cues, social anxiety, “quirky” or strange behavior, inappropriate honesty, and other cultural behaviors (the “handshake” that may not be demonstrated by a candidate with autism.
Advocates like Autism Speaks estimate that up to 9/10 adults with autism are underemployed or unemployed. Microsoft is offering an alternative to this process. Check out this awesome video:
In addition to a better hiring process, Microsoft goes one step further by giving these new employees a strong onboarding experience with coaches, mentors, buddies and resources they need to help them be successful.
Managers even get professional development and receive training on all those key manager soft skills – clear expectations, constructive feedback, and regular communication.
This program is just part of Microsoft’s Global Diversity and Inclusion, including a number of Employee Resource groups for Asian, Black, Disabled, Hispanic, and Parents, LGBT, and Women employees.