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Nationwide: People with Autism bring value to the workplace

Category: disability, Neurodiversity, Autism, WORKPLACE, employment, Business, Asperger’s Syndrome, Nationwide building society

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People with Asperger's syndrome can bring real value to your workplace

Only 14% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time employment, the lowest proportion of any notable disability.

British businesses are wasting a potentially powerful resource. Far from being disabled, many with autism and Asperger's syndrome are differently abled, and they can bring a deeper range of cognitive skills and traits to the workplace.

Neurodiversity was the key message at a recent Nationwide event aimed at bringing talent and diversity into companies across the UK.

The Society aims to help those who don't identify as "neurotypical" achieve more fulfilment in their lives, by deepening our understanding of the value autistic people can bring to the workplace.

Katrina Hutchinson-O'Neill, Director of Resourcing at Nationwide Building Society, said:“Nationwide wants to help change the perception of Asperger's syndrome from being considered a disability to a welcomed and valuable difference. This event was about starting the conversation about the recruitment of neurodiverse workforces and the processes involved."

Influential businesses and HR figures joined us to discuss how organisations can better tap into talented professionals with Asperger's syndrome. On hand to provide a personal account was BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham, who wasn't diagnosed with Asperger's, a severe form of autism, until he was in his forties.

Describing common traits and characteristics in the workplace, Chris spoke of the task-orientated approach and the drive for precision and perfection found by those at the higher end of the autistic spectrum. He feels these differences shouldn't be inhibitors for organisations looking to recruit, but should be celebrated and embraced.

Chris said that his ability to visually retain information, plus his desire for knowledge, doesn't make him disabled, but rather enabled.

Katrina agreed, saying that many neurodiverse candidates do not consider their autism as a disability at all.

Laurel Herman, CEO at ASPIeRATIONS, a community interest company, said:

"This discussion shows that businesses in the UK are starting to take steps to support people with Asperger's syndrome, but there is much more that needs to be done.

If we are to see a real change it must come from the top. We need business leaders to follow Nationwide's lead in recognising their responsibility to make their organisations and hiring practices more inclusive."


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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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