Investing In less "Obvious" Talent


Investing In Less "Obvious" Talent

Extra support is no longer reserved for upper level executives in helping companies thrive.

I've been a corporate speech, voice and communications trainer for over 20 years. My first profession, which I still practice, is speech/language pathology (over 30 years), also referred to as speech therapy, which can be misleading because the work involves every facet of communication--speech, learning, executive functioning, social skills... I work with many people who are "different" learners or have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.

Working in these two environments--the corporate world and the clinic (my office, now), has provided me many rich and wonderful experiences, as well as insights. The executives I coach are working on developing better communication and overall functioning skills: prioritizing, streamlining information, tailoring information to various audiences appropriately, presenting effectively and with confidence, and speaking with a strong, clear voice... among other skills. In speech therapy, I work with people who have more "obvious" differences from the mainstream. They may be working on some of the same skills, just on a larger or slightly different scale. Both groups can learn new behaviors and improve functional performance in diverse contexts, both at varying degrees.

Many of the executives I work with make millions. Many of the S/L therapy clients I work with struggle with getting and/or maintaining a job.

Some of the executives I work with are brilliant. Some of my S/L clients on the spectrum are brilliant.

Companies pay big bucks to support executives with extra coaching and support. SOME companies are finally encouraging hiring and supporting people on the spectrum as they come to understand the value of investing in less "obvious" talent.

But what's less obvious? Research has shown that employees on the autism spectrum demonstrate above standard workplace performance; they show increased attention to detail, have a higher work ethic, and produce consistent, strong quality of work; they have fewer absences and dramatically lower turnover rates. 

More about autism and work here.

From Brain Sciences, 2020:

Moreover, an increase in the employment of people with ASD can lead to significant economic benefits to society. A study in Australia found that reducing the unemployment of people with ASD by one-third would lead to a $43 billion increase in the Australian Gross Domestic Product. The Dandelion Employment Program in Australia calculates that every 100 individuals with ASD who were previously unemployed, and who participate in the program for three years, save the Australian government over six million dollars in the form of tax gains, savings in welfare benefits, and savings in unemployment services costs.

...It is predicted that over the next decade, close to half a million children with ASD will reach adulthood. If they cannot be employed and live independently, the services they will require will place a financial toll on families and society. Supporting an individual with ASD may exceed two million dollars throughout their lifetime. The total cost of ASD support services in the U.S. exceeds 236 billion dollars annually. This number is expected to rise to one trillion dollars by 2025. There are additional financial and non-financial costs that are difficult to measure, such as income losses for individuals with ASD and their families, as well as the emotional and psychological costs associated with long term unemployment.

Here are some companies who are hiring and supporting people on the spectrum (there are others--these are just a few):

Ernst & Young, SAP, J.P. Morgan, Lowe's, Procter & Gamble, HP, ULTRA, AutonomyWorks, Vodafone, Dell, Microsoft

Does yours? Let me know if I'm leaving it out, and how you see it working. 

Have the discussion on hiring folks with different learning and social skills style at your company with everyone who will listen. It truly is the way things change.