Wanted: ‘people who think differently’

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In an interesting case of reverse discrimination, the multinational software company, SAP, is launching a recruitment drive that targets people with autism spectrum disorder.

“An Autism Spectrum Disorder is a life-long developmental disability affecting social and communication skills,” according to Autism New Zealand. Its symptoms may include difficulties with social relationships, for example appearing aloof, difficulties with verbal and non-verbal communication, repetitive behaviours, and resistance to change.

Partnering with Specialisterne, a recruitment firm that specialises in placing people with autism in technology jobs, SAP is looking for candidates with autism for roles in software testing, programming, and data management.

“We share a common belief with Specialisterne that innovation comes from the ‘edges.’ Only be employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st century,” Lusia Delgado, a spokesperson for SAP, told People Management.

The recruitment drive is to be rolled out in the US, Canada and Germany, subsequent to what was a successful pilot programme. In India, six people with autism were hired as software testers, leading to increased productivity in their team.

“What we saw [in the pilot] is that people with autism have fantastic strengths in IT-related matters, software development, testing and quality assurance. We found that they can focus on specific topics and are really eager to find mistakes,” Hilmar Schep, another SAP spokesperson, told The Telegraph.

“SAP is the first multinational company to partner with us on a global scale. The partnership will position SAP as a thought leader and motivate the ecosystem to follow its example,” Thorkil Sonne, chairman of Specialisterne, told People Management.

Specialisterne is owned by the Specialist People Foundation, the majority of whose staff are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. “The Specialist People Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation with the goal to create one million jobs globally for people with autism and similar challenges, such as ADHD, ADD, OCD and Tourette’s Syndrome,” the website states.

Around one percent of the global population has autism, and SAP wants this reflected in its 65,000 strong workforce.


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