When SAP launched the Autism at Work program in 2013, SAP Canada was chosen as one of a few countries to pilot this remarkable initiative.
SAP’s Autism at Work program is our commitment to hire 1% of our global workforce with individuals on the autism spectrum by 2020, which reflects the approximate occurrence of this disorder in the general population.
In Canada, we partnered with Specialisterne to hire 12 individuals in the program who are contributing to SAP in a myriad of ways including software development and technology legal compliance. In addition to the success stories of hiring individuals on the spectrum such as Matthew’s story, our focus has been on creating sustainable community impact. Whether it be challenging other employers to rethink their talent strategies or working with local organizations to introduce young adults and their families to the career opportunities that could exist for individuals on the autism spectrum.
This led us to create a job sampling experience for young adults part of the EmploymentWorks Canada (EWC) program in partnership with the Pacific Autism Family Centre. Through this program, individuals on the autism spectrum gain exposure to different workplace settings and get hands-on practice to build new skills.
To walk through the doors of a technology company was a bit of a change of pace for the group who had spent the previous weeks visiting hotels, restaurants and even a ranch. They arrived at SAP, not knowing much about a technology company and what it was like behind the scenes, but quickly learnt about how SAP runs quietly in the background of their everyday lives.
The group was taken on a tour of SAP Vancouver’s 200,000 square foot office in the heart of downtown Vancouver. They learned about the many teams that work in the 1,200-person building including sales, software development, product support, HR, IT and more. The highlights of the tour, though, were seeing the office’s 24/7 gym, games room, and learning how to pay for food using a fingerprint in the office’s micro-market.
They then had the opportunity to play with some technology developed right in Vancouver. Participants got to experience the SAP Digital Boardroom and see how this next generation analytics tool is changing the way companies do business.
Lunch was an opportunity for EWC participants to meet some of our Autism at Work colleagues, learn about their roles and shared challenges as jobseekers. The group returned to SAP the following week for a workshop facilitated by the d-shop. To get warmed up, each participant built their own personalized Lego robot, inspired by the SAP Vancouver d-shop mascot, Lectron. With their creative juices flowing, the group tried their hand at an Arduino 101 workshop.
At SAP, we believe that differently-abled talent have unique contributions to make to the workplace. Diversity of all forms create stronger, more creative and more innovative teams. We’re glad to do our part to help give young people on the autism spectrum, and their families hope for their futures and unlock their curiosity to consider a career in technology.