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49. Embracing Neurodiversity at Work

49. Embracing Neurodiversity at Work

Peoplebank Supports Talents with Neurodiversity

Peoplebank is committed to expanding job opportunities for candidates with neurological differences. To increase neurodiversity in Australia’s workforce, Peoplebank has partnered with Specialisterne to develop a program that helps candidates with Autism Spectrum Disorder find suitable employment.

Peoplebank, a Chandler Macleod Group company within Recruit Global Staffing, strives to continuously diversify its workforce. Peoplebank has made great progress in terms of gender and racial diversity, and is currently working diligently to support neurodiversity in the workplace.

Neurodiversity refers to all of the natural variations of people’s brain functions and behavioral traits. In a neurodiverse working environment, employees with neurological differences such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or dyslexia are never considered less capable. Rather, it is understood that everyone thinks in different ways.

Many people with neurological differences demonstrate qualities that are highly valuable in business, such as attention to detail, pattern recognition, and creativity. In fact, people with ASD working in human services at Peoplebank’s Canberra branch outperform neurotypical workers by 130%. However, only 42% of people with ASD were employed in Australia in 2012—a relatively high rate compared to other countries such as the U.K. with only 15% and the U.S. with 11%.

To encourage the employment of more people with neurological differences, Peoplebank’s Canberra branch has developed an inclusion program. In partnership with Specialisterne, a social innovation organization that is focused on meaningful employment for people with ASD, Peoplebank has launched a new employment model that places job candidates with ASD in positions that play to their strengths.

“The job candidates are placed into suitable jobs via a structured four-week assessment and are then trained by mental health professionals,” said David Smith, the former Canberra branch manager who pioneered the initiative. “The program also trains all line managers and employees on how to integrate the workers with ASD into their teams and support them.”

So far, the program has placed 35 candidates with ASD into full-time technology-related roles across software testing, data science, cybersecurity, and systems monitoring. Previously unemployed people have become contributing members of society, and report feeling motivated by their new responsibilities.

Peoplebank believes that every person, team, and organization has potential, and by acknowledging and accepting our differences, we can unleash true innovation. Successful businesses thrive on diversity. A workforce of diverse thinkers will be infinitely more innovative and productive than one that prioritizes homogeneity.

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