For Autism Awareness Month 2021 Google featured neurodistsinct autistic Googler Tim Goldstein and his neurotypical manager Patricia Li in an interview of their journey together.
Thanks to the media team for such a well done article. Even more thanks to the HR groups for recognizing the value of this story even though it came out of an unofficial event organized by Google's autistic and broader neurodistinct community.
The back story is a few of us autistic Googlers (what us Google employees call ourselves) put on an event titled "Tech on the Spectrum for Managers." We already knew many Googlers are autistic or fall into another neurodistinct category. Unfortunately the only official program to address this innovative and creative segment of their workforce is a data Autism at Work 1.0 program to create a small pilot program to recruit 10 new autistic Googlers and only train those directly involved about neurodiversity and working these neurodistinct employees.
While this approach has been the standard since being introduced by Specialisterna back in the early 20-teens and adopted by SAP, DXC, Microsoft, EY, JPMorgan Chase and all the other Autism at Work leaders, many autistics feel the goal of this approach, to create a business case and prove autistic employees can be valuable employees, has outlived it's usefulness. With people like Elon Musk publicly revealing he has Asperger's, which is a form of autism, and Google having a casual North America meeting group of only autistic identifying Googlers with 250 members I think the case is already proven that we are valuable, creative, and innovative employees who are not only successful, but critical to a companies innovation. Working from the basis we are already successful employees we decided it was up to us to start teaching managers to get the most out of us and create an enjoyable atmosphere for everyone. I call this approach where the existing community advises and teaches the company what needs to be done Autism/Neurodiversity at Work 2.0. I describe this approach as creating the proceeds, training, and awareness that all companies already hire neurodistinct individuals and learning what they need to be valued contributors is the first step a company should take. Once they have built the community and support internally for the existing neurodistinct employees it is then time to worry about how to recruit more.
Unfortunately I am still seeing big name, well known companies being given mandates to create a hiring program without making any efforts to figure out how to support, motivate, and retain the existing individuals from the same group they are creating a special program to hire. Unfortunately this is mostly corporate white washing. It give companies the chance to brag about the great things they are doing, when all they are doing is what has been proven many times over the past 6 years by many companies.
The article give a glimpse at what can be accomplished if we shift to Autism/Neurodiversity at Work 2.0 and let the neurodistinct employees teach what they need to deliver all the creativity and unique thinking to a company.
Hope you enjoy the article and that I have you starting to think if it is time to switch from the 1.0 phase of proving there is value to the 2.0 phase of embracing that talent using all the great information the leaders in this space have shared over the last 6 years.