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Friday, May 6, 2022

Supply-Side Neurodiversity

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Robert D. Austin and Gary P. Pisano at Harvard Business Review
Managers in, say, a tech company know a lot about many things but usually are not experts in autism or other categories of neurodiversity. Also, for many good reasons, companies hesitate to extend their activities into employees’ private lives, where neurodiverse people may need extra help.

To fill these gaps, the companies we studied entered into relationships with “social partners”—government or nonprofit organizations committed to helping people with disabilities obtain jobs. SAP has worked with California’s Department of Rehabilitation, Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, the U.S. nonprofits EXPANDability and the Arc, and overseas agencies such as EnAble India, while HPE has worked with Autism SA (South Australia). Such groups help companies navigate local employment regulations that apply to people with disabilities, suggest candidates from lists of neurodiverse people seeking employment, assist in prescreening, help arrange public funding for training, sometimes administer training, and provide the mentorship and ongoing support (especially outside work hours) needed to ensure that neurodiverse employees will succeed. In Germany, recognition of the benefits of moving people off public assistance and into jobs that generate tax revenue has led to publicly funded positions to support the retention of neurodiverse employees. Although estimates of the benefits a government gains by turning such people into tax-paying tech workers vary, they often are on the order of $50,000 per person a year.