The Ability in Disability
Editor’s Note: Members of the Young Global Leaders forum at the World Economic Forum in Davos share some of their ideas for innovative ways to boost the economy and unleash intellectual capital.
(CNN) – I met a very inspiring person couple of years back and he told me three things that have been a great lesson for me:
The hiring process of organizations are more fine-tuned to reject rather than select people, as most often they are focused on identifying the weakness of people – what they can’t do rather than look at what they can.
Everyone is good at something – we need to find a way to match people’s strength to organization needs.
When you give something to someone who least expects it, they give back to you much more.
That helps explain why my we decided to hire individuals in the autism spectrum at SAP Labs India.
Autism is a highly variable neurodevelopment disorder and many are impacted by it. It is said that Autism impacts one in every 88 persons. Individuals with autism have limited or little language and social skills. Very few of them get employment or get absorbed into mainstream, as most of the autistic individuals lack communication skills and cannot be team players, two absolutely essential skills needed to land a job.
They however have a very good memory and the ability to focus on repetitive tasks for a long time without drudgery. Since we have a large workforce working on software testing, which involves remembering complex steps and performing repeated activities, we thought why not look at hiring autistics to perform this role. Beginning in a small way, we hired four autistics and trained them to take up software testing. Each individual was assigned a buddy. The buddies apart from being experienced testers were individuals who were passionate about doing something different. The biggest criterion for being a buddy was compassion. The buddies slowly became their partners not just at work, but much beyond that.