The more diverse teams are, the more likely a company is to achieve a healthier workplace, higher engagement levels, and better financial performance.
A 2020 article published by Ernst & Young LLP shows that companies that embrace neurodiversity can gain competitive advantage in several areas:
- Processing information: researchers found that autistic employees have an information processing advantage and can better detect critical details. The Australian Government Department of Defence has found success with its cybersecurity neurodiversity program.
- Productivity and work quality: JPMorgan Chase reports that professionals in its Autism at Work initiative make fewer errors and are 90% to 140% more productive than neurotypical employees.
- Sustained attention to detail: neurodiverse employees often bring hyperfocus to complex, repetitive tasks, which they can sustain over a long period.
- Talent retention: the four most extensive US autism hiring programs (SAP, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, and EY) all have retention rates of more than 90%, higher than the average retention rates in their industries.
Eduardo Fantini, a long-time Wilder, has noticed this and decided to join forces with the Talent Acquisition team and engineering interviewers to make Wildlife a more diverse company.
Considering the challenges he had to overcome throughout his career in the interview process as a neurodivergent person, Fantini decided it was time to work on improving the interview process when a new position was created in his organization. The review of all stages of the recruitment and tips for the onboarding process considered and brought context to the various characteristics of the spectrum and how to avoid incorrect assessment of candidates, in addition to improving communication during interviews. These changes were key to putting brilliant talent on an equal footing throughout the process.
Fantini ensured that the guidelines were defined, taking into account that every autistic individual is a unique human being with a couple of similar characteristics, such as hyperfocus, sensorial hypersensitivity, stereotypies, and social introspection.
The established guidelines said that, for example, the functioning of the steps should be detailed for all candidates, reducing the anxiety of speculating all the possibilities in their minds causing prior exhaustion. The guideline also brings context about body and facial expressions and variations in the tone of speech that may occur and are part of spectrum or people’s isolated traits. There are also guidelines on how to proceed in the interview if candidates have an anxiety episode. This has been the standard interview process for all candidates in our department since then.
After aligning with the interviewers and the Talent Acquisition team, we ran a pilot process for several candidates, not necessarily neurodivergent. In this process, we hired a brilliant engineer on the autistic spectrum, who evaluated the process as comfortable and transparent at all stages. There is always room for further improvement, but the most important thing we learned from all this is that inclusion is a matter of awareness and learning. Knowing that people can be different seems obvious, but when we better understand how neurodivergent people understand, live, and express themselves in the world, we feel more prepared to work with them and grow together.