Meet Vineet Saraiwala, the founder of Atypical Advantage, a job portal that helps recruiters find job-seekers with disabilities in the pandemic. Vineet himself suffers from a rare genetic disorder which makes him uniquely placed to understand career-related problems of people with disabilities. He hopes to change the discourse of finding a job based on skills and wants to further strengthen the cause of inclusivity in India. While difficulties that people having physical disabilities face have been discussed, people suffering from neurological deficiencies have often been ignored.
According to the World Health Organization, one in every 160 people globally have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). And that is just the statistics for ASD. Neurodiverse individuals have cognitive conditions going much beyond the autism spectrum. Employment has always been difficult for neurodivergent individuals, primarily because of the lack of awareness about their abilities and talents.
According to Amarpal Chadha, a partner at EY India’s People Advisory Services. “These individuals are often technologically inclined and detail-oriented, with strong skills in analytics, mathematics, pattern recognition, and information processing – among the very skills businesses most urgently need.” EY India has one of the very few well-structured recruitment processes for neurodivergent individuals when it comes to MNCs. EY India adapted every step of its original recruitment process to match the needs of neurodivergent candidates and gauge their potential. They slowed down the interview, created environments suitable for the candidates, and made them feel comfortable.
SAP Labs India also follows a policy of setting aside a small percentage of jobs for people with ASD. They have “work buddies” and “job coaches” initiatives in place along with an integration model that makes the employees’ lives easier.
While EY and SAP labs might be one of the very few multinational companies in India to have implemented such mechanisms, small businesses have been doing so for a long time. Mitti Cafe in Bangalore is run completely by a differently-abled staff. Mitti Cafe has made multiple unique improvisations to their organization from self-explanatory placards to flicker lights for signals.
Foreign Companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Dell Technologies, etc. have made key changes in their hiring, retention, and management initiatives to provide more employment opportunities to people belonging to this group. For example, Goldman Sachs places neuroatypical individuals in a division within the company for a fixed period to familiarize themselves with working in a neurotypical workplace. They are also given technical skill-building and professional development training.
There is a tide of awareness coming in about the benefits of companies addressing neurodiversity. It has been found that neurodiverse individuals employed in regular working spaces enhance the organization’s innovative quotient and make people more empathetic and understanding, something that should be a given.