Following on from the global success of the IGNITE Autism Spectrum Disorder Program in the USA, IBM partnered with Specialisterne Australia to run the IBM Neurodiversity Program at the Client Innovation Centre in Ballarat, Victoria in March 2019.
There were 10 various roles in IT identified including testing, developing, data analytics and business analytics.
Prior to the program commencing, Specialisterne worked with IBM to build the organisations capacity and confidence through a series of autism specific training and awareness programs. These programs included several general autism awareness training sessions and tailored leadership training for the hiring managers.
IBM Australia rolls out neurodiversity program,
The program is the first of its kind for IBM Australia, though the company will roll it out in Canada, Japan, Brazil and Argentina this year after launching in the United States in 2017.
ABC’s 7.30 Report followed IBM’s Neurodiversity Program
What the hiring managers have to say:
“For us to stay innovative and forward thinking and cutting edge, we need to have as many brains as possible and this is a great talent source of people who think differently.”
“Amazing talent was sourced very suitable to our roles.”
“This program allows us to focus on what works better for all employees”.
Andrew Williams, Global Neurodiversity Lead at IBM, talks about how to build a business case for autism / neurodiversity programs within your business.
“He [Thorkil Sonne, Specialisterne founder] lit in me a passion to change the status quo within IBM to not only promote diversity which we have always championed within IBM but to drive neurodiversity engagement across the whole of IBM globally.”
Meet Sam, neurodiverse employee at IBM
Sam hopes more businesses see the opportunity and potential neurodiversity brings to the workplace
Meet Ryan, neurodiverse employee at IBM
Ryan feels incredibly supported by his time at IBM
How Sam Castleman ended up at IBM
Sam Castleman applied for more than 150 jobs when he was looking for part-time work while studying at university. He was knocked back for every single one.
Castleman is on the autism spectrum, and now believes this slew of employment rejections were due largely to his condition.
What the candidates have to say:
“Before IBM, I’d applied for a lot of part-time and casual jobs, with no luck. I stopped counting after around 150, none of which went past the interview stage. I spent days handing out resumes to every business I could find on main streets and in shopping centers, which was one of the most demotivating experiences of my life.”
“[The IBM Neurodiversity program] taught me to value my differences in a way nothing and nobody else ever has. I feel more confident in myself, my strengths and even my weaknesses, and I’m continuing to learn to embrace what makes me unique, without stressing about what other people think.”
Through their Neurodiversity Program, IBM has greatly benefitted from their new employees’ different way of thinking.
They have also changed the lives of some autistic jobseekers, who had found it a challenge to get past interview stage, not due to lack of skills, but lack of understanding/awareness/acceptance of autism by employers.
These new employees can now fully embrace who they are and the strengths that come with that. They go to work where they know they are appreciated and accepted for who they are.