An overlooked diversity hiring opportunity

The number of quality prospects capable of performing well in professional and hourly positions who happen to have autism is surprisingly large. The number of prospects with autism who are unemployed is estimated at 80%. Calling this population underserved is a misnomer. That they are ignored in the midst of talent shortage should be an embarrassment to any professional recruiter – regardless of the challenges in moving this needle.

CBS Sunday Morning [Feb 11] took a deep dive into what SAP and Microsoft have done to proactively reach out to candidates with Autism. Kudos. Hat tip and more. The individuals interviewed, the welcoming environment and the developing practices were highlighted with respect and optimism. If I were a member of staff, I would be a bit prouder to work there.

Hiring Workers with Autism, is worth a few minutes of any recruiters time. SAP is especially noteworthy as they have been at this 5 years now and, last year, hosted hundreds of employers at a symposium to share their learning.

A diversity hiring opportunity: people with disabilities

There are many other disabilities in the world. People with hearing, sight and mobility challenges are just a few who are visible. Imagine what the possibilities would be if you could add to the pool of scarce talent an underserved and often ready population?

Recruiting functions, however, would have to intentionally devote some of their sourcing energy to this challenge. Many people with disabilities won’t out themselves for fear of bias –  heck, few employees are willing to out themselves – but finding them isn’t difficult, it’s just that few try. Severely wounded warriors are recovering in dozens of well-known hospitals. Technicians, engineers and computer scientists who are deaf are graduating every year from Rochester Institute of Technology’s NTID. Nearly every college on an employers Target list includes clubs and organizations geared to serving people with disabilities. Many firms have affinity groups  etc., etc. , etc.

Would a machine-learning algorithm find a person with challenging social skills and other marked differences to the ‘culture fit’ criteria you’ve established with that new partner? Or would it potentially scrap evidence that a fit would place them much further down the list of possible candidates? How have your colleagues prepped the environment for inclusion, trained for unconscious bias and put a stake in the ground that differences of thought come in every color, gender and life experience? While most good-size recruiting organizations will reflect the diversity they hire in gender, race, veterans and more, I’ve only encountered a half dozen recruiters with a disability.

For several years, I’ve wanted to bring together two dozen firms with proactive strategies, record a brief ‘Ted Talk’ of what they are doing and what their business gets out of it. I figured two dozen different approaches would be enough to stimulate others to find their own path. Several firms along the way volunteered to underwrite the cost. The problem is obvious: only a handful of firms have surfaced.

Two recent CareerXroads headlines on this subject:


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Chris Hoyt

A veteran of recruiting and HR, Hoyt is a sought-after speaker with presentations including national conferences with SHRM, LinkedIn, HR Technology, ERE and others in the USA as well as UNLEASH, iRecruit, Australasian Talent Conference and more abroad. Chris has been promoting and leading full scale and enterprise-wide integrations of social media and mobile marketing within workforce strategies for his entire career. His expertise and passion for interactive/social recruiting, candidate experience, and both national and international recruiting strategies are all areas that Hoyt now leverages as co-owner and President at CareerXroads, a Recruiting/Staffing consulting and think tank organization that works with corporate leaders from around the world to break out of traditional recruitment practices and push the envelope in an effort to win the ongoing war for top talent.

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