July 17, 2012

Companies Find Fruitful Results When Hiring Autistic Workers

It's not a charity program, one executive cautions. And supervisor buy-in is crucial. But workers with autism can provide a dedicated, focused workforce in the right setting.
When Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association and College Retirement Equities Fund purchased a massive apple orchard in Washington state as part of its investment portfolio, managers soon discovered that workers often would show up drunk or not show up at all.
"We needed a better workforce, people who really wanted to do the work," says Heather Davis, senior managing director and head of global private markets for the Fortune 100 financial-services organization headquartered in New York.


One advocate did a year's worth of homework before presenting the economic benefits to the board of her company.
Needing reliable workers, the company took an unconventional turn: It decided to focus on hiring employees with autism for its Fruits of Employment program. The move has paid off, Davis says.
"They take a bit longer to train, but once they're trained, they're excellent," Davis says.
Although many organizations have shied from hiring people with autism—often fearing potential workplace problems—a handful of companies have embraced hiring people with the developmental disorder.
"People with disabilities have a lot more potential than people give them credit for," says Deb Russell, manager of outreach and employment services at Walgreens. The drugstore-chain giant, based in Deerfield, Illinois, was an early adopter of workers with autism... READ MORE >>

By Susan Ladika  |  Image:

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