Photo (cc) by Robert Scoble
Microsoft is launching a pilot program to hire people with autism.
Mary Ellen Smith, a Microsoft corporate VP with a 19-year-old autistic son, announced the program in a blog post:
“It’s simple, Microsoft is stronger when we expand opportunity and we have a diverse workforce that represents our customers. People with autism bring strengths that we need at Microsoft, each individual is different, some have amazing ability to retain information, think at a level of detail and depth or excel in math or code. It’s a talent pool that we want to continue to bring to Microsoft!”
Microsoft has partnered with Specialisterne, a Danish company whose mission is to provide opportunities for high-functioning autistic people, to launch the program. The Microsoft program will involve hiring people with autism for full-time positions at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
Smith offered few details about the program itself in the post.
“It’s early days, but we’re excited to get going, and we know we’ll learn a lot along the way,” she said.
The technology giant has policies expressing its commitment to diversity and has hired people with disabilities to fill positions in event services, transportation, and food services.
“In these roles, we see only 1 percent attrition level,” Smith noted.
Microsoft said it’s always looking for ways to increase the diversity of its workforce. Smith said:
“Our effort goes beyond autism. We are passionate about hiring individuals of all disabilities, and we believe with them, we can create, support and build great products and services. Our customers are diverse, and we need to be as well.”
Smith said that she is proud of all her son has accomplished and excited to see where Microsoft’s new program will go.
“I am also proud of how our society and our workplace is moving forward with the commitment to help support people with autism and disabilities in general,” she added.
Microsoft is not the only company to pursue people on the autism spectrum for their strengths, such as a gift for numbers and an extremely meticulous nature. Companies including SAP and Freddie Mac are already on this track, according to a report by Slate.
Interested applicants in Microsoft’s new pilot program can email their resumes to [email protected].
April is National Autism Awareness Month. Click here for more information.
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