SAP Autism at Work in Palo Alto – A Great First Year
In May of 2013 SAP established a global objective to have 1% its workforce represented by employees in the autism spectrum by the year 2020. A global program was set in place at that time and roughly one year ago (January 2014) preparations were kicked off to onboard our first cohort of seven SAP employees with autism in the Silicon Valley and in the United States. The rewards, the lessons and the impact have been clear and plentiful. We are thankful for the many SAP employees and external partners who continue to share their extraordinary talents to make this program ordinary, as it is only through this extraordinary-to-ordinary transformation that real paradigm shifts take place.
In the United States our new colleagues have taken roles that range from Software Quality Assurance to Information Development to Graphic Design to IT Project Management and are fully integrated into the SAP family. Our new colleagues shattered many misconceptions about autism and shared their stories with more than five million people through articles that appeared in publications like the San Jose Mercury News, the Wall Street Journal and television segments like CBS This Morning. We felt deeply honored to have been invited to testify in the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on the “Global Challenge of Autism” and to join like-minded public and private sector entities at the White House Summit on Disability and Employment. We are also proud to have shared our journey with more than 40 companies exploring the possibility of creating similar programs.
Managers and team buddies have played a critical role in the success of our new colleagues and with their feedback we continue to improve our program. I am more confident than ever in SAP’s vision to make the world run better and improve people’s lives. When I talk to colleagues like Mark Lazarus, Joe Fox, Eduardo Salamanca de Diego and Carol Farnsworth, employee-volunteers who have taken a role as Autism at Work Mentors who share their time and talents to help our new colleagues and their new teams succeed, I see how this vision becomes a reality.
2015 will be a big year for the SAP Autism at Work Program as we onboard 100 new colleagues with autism globally. We will also have the privilege of hosting Dr.Temple Grandin at SAP Labs Palo Alto on April 6th of 2015. Dr. Grandin is a person who has inspired millions to reach their full potential in-spite of the challenges of autism, and because of the gifts that people with autism bring to the life of many and to the workplace.
Jose H. Velasco
SAP Autism at Work