In May of last year, SAP announced the launch of Autism at Work – a unique global initiative to employ people with autism. The ultimate goal of the program is to have 1 percent of the company’s total work force, or about 650 people in today’s numbers, represent people on the autism spectrum by 2020. Beyond these hard figures, the software solutions giant hopes to achieve what it calls “on-boarding equivalency,” meaning that the company has reached a point that it takes the same amount of effort to hire and train a candidate with autism as someone who is not on the spectrum, Jose Velasco, who heads up the program for SAP in the U.S., told Triple Pundit.
“Our idea is that we want to reach that level of maturity within the organization by 2020 — hopefully before that,” Velasco explained.
To achieve its goal, the company embarked on several pilot programs around the globe and has already hired seven candidates on the spectrum in Germany, as well as three candidates in Ireland. This year, the pilot will extend to two of the company’s facilities in Canada, as well as two locations here in the U.S. — comprising seven to nine candidates who are starting work at the company’s Palo Alto, Calif. and Newtown Square, Pa. facilities. All totaled, the company will hire 14 candidates on the autism spectrum by the end of April, with plans to extend the pilot to Brazil later this year.
“We very strongly believe that in order for us to get better at employing people in the spectrum we have to start by walking first,” Velasco said. “Throughout the year of 2014, we’ll continue to learn. We’ll design our processes, fortify our processes …. And towards the beginning of next year, we’ll start hiring more people on a larger scale.”
This is all fantastic news, but you may be wondering: Why is SAP doing this in the first place? Surely the company’s status allows it to take its pick from top candidates in the IT field, so why rock the boat? Velasco boils it down to one central corporate philosophy: “An insatiable appetite for improvement”.Click to continue reading »