SAP is embarking on a global program to hire people with autism as software testers, programmers and data quality assurance specialists, the company announced Tuesday. Autistic employees can offer competitive advantages, according to SAP, while helping the individuals secure meaningful employment.
“Some people with autism, which affects about 1 percent of the general population, score very highly on intelligence tests and possess extraordinary powers of observation and concentration,” Financial Times stated Tuesday. But “they can find it difficult to interpret facial expressions, body language and sarcasm [and] as a result, they often struggle to perform well in job interviews.”
One percent of SAP’s global workforce will be autistic by 2020, thanks to a partnership with Specialisterne, a Danish company that helps autistic people around the world find technology-oriented jobs. Most of the employees in Specialisterne have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, typically serving as consultants in fields such as software testing, programming and data entry.
“People with autism bring special skills,” Anka Wittenberg, SAP Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, said in SAP News Thursday. “Autistic people have a particularly strong sense of visual perception, which among other things is very useful when testing software.”
“SAP seeks programmers with autism” in Financial Times
“Turning Disability into a Differentiator by Leveraging the Talents of People with Autism with Anka Wittenberg: Webcast” in SAP.com
“Untapped Talent: Autistic Workers a Worthwhile Challenge for SAP” in Spiegel