Autism at Work: Only by Embracing Differences, We Can Spark Change

The eleventh annual World Autism Awareness Day took place yesterday, April 2. Leading up to the day, SAP Labs in India hosted a number of events to discuss autism at work and how we can integrate – and also learn from – people living with autism.

As a global company with employees from more than 150 nationalities, SAP believes that creating a diverse, inclusive, and bias-free work culture not only makes us a better and happier company; it also makes us a more successful company.

We thrive by having employees from all walks of life – a combination of culture, race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical or mental ability, and work-life situations. This includes colleagues with autism.

Through SAP’s Autism at Work program, we gain strengths by bringing people with different abilities together

SAP was one of the first companies to launch a program to integrate people with autism at work. To date the Autism at Work program has brought nearly 120 colleagues on the autism spectrum in nine countries into the SAP workforce. This includes SAP Labs in Bangalore, India.

But don’t take only my word for it: Read Asha Sreedhar’s story. Asha was a highly qualified job candidate, but found that most jobs had a cookie-cutter approach to skill sets and emphasized multi-tasking, instead of focusing on a candidate’s unique strength. Asha applied for our Autism at Work program in Bangalore. She aced the training and got hired at SAP Labs India after graduation. She has been successfully working as a software test engineer for more than two years now and become an integral part of our global SAP employee community.

In her story, Asha points out some of the very valuable skills that people on the autism spectrum can bring to the team, including emphasis, meticulousness, and dedication. All of them are extremely important in the tech industry; without these abilities, we would not be where we are today.

Asha’s story reminds us that we gain strengths by bringing people with different abilities together. Only by embracing differences, we can spark innovation and inspire change together.

Dilipkumar Khandelwal is president of SAP Hana Enterprise Cloud and managing director of SAP Labs India