Presenting at the UN
I was so delighted to be given the opportunity to present SAP’s Autism at Work program at the United Nations World Autism Awareness day on April 2nd. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities recognizes the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others. More than 1% of the world population has Autism and we need to create awareness of the talents these people can bring to the table.
It was moving to be in a building you normally only see on television, especially at such an important event where I met and heard from so many talented people in companies large and small, in the media and in non-profit organizations all looking to improve the lives of people with Autism. I was so shocked to hear a young woman talk about her work experience, where she was discriminated against because she was on the Autistic Spectrum. She was not invited to social gatherings, she was treated like a child and she was not judged by the quality of her work but by her diagnoses. This should not be tolerated and I trust it will not be at SAP.
The whole purpose of the UN event was to bring awareness to the value that people with Autism can bring to an organization or company. It is about creating an environment where diversity is valued. It is a sad fact that less than 50% of young people and adults with Autism, who want to work, and are able to work, have jobs – we must do more to change that figure.
Meeting the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
Before the event I met with several of our colleagues at SAP with Autism and I was so impressed by their talent and their drive to succeed. So many of these colleagues have faced real hurdles when trying to find and retain jobs and it was heartwarming to listen to Patrick Viesti tell his story about how challenging he found interviews and the whole process of finding a job and how different he found it at SAP.
I witnessed first-hand the impact our program and those of other companies has on the lives of families of children with Autism. At SAP we have seen that our new colleagues with Autism contribute serious value. Despite the challenges they face, they have arrived at our door displaying resilience, loyalty, dedication and a burning desire to work. They have a natural ability to recognize patterns and deviations in systems, processes and data, and what makes them really special, they have a very low tolerance for mistakes, an essential trait in any job but particularly important in technology related roles.
More than 50 Customers and partners have reached out to SAP over the last year to learn about the program, many such customers and partners were at the event. But we need many more to consider hiring people with disabilities like Autism.
If you are interested in learning more about the event and about SAP and the Autism At Work program here are some helpful links: