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How to Build a Business Case for Neurodiverse Recruitment

Alison Eveleigh  |  05/12/2019

 Andrew Williams from IBM suggests starting with a pilot program before developing a global business case. 
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Sydney Neurodiversity Symposium 2019 Presentation Summary: Andrew Williams

As part of the Thriving Now Sydney Neurodiversity Symposium 2019, held at Fishburners Sydney and hosted by Thriving Now director Jay Hobbs, Andrew Williams gave a presentation on how to build a business case for neurodivergent recruitment. 

Takeaway: When it comes to neurodivergent recruitment, Andrew Williams from IBM suggests starting with a pilot program before developing a global business case. His ambitious goal is to make neurodivergent recruitment business as usual, not just at IBM but within all companies. 

Start with a Pilot
    • The unemployment rate among 20-something people with autism is 42%.
    • Andrew was inspired to explore Neurodivergent recruitment 5 years ago, and his work is ongoing. He is working to design an institutionalised neurodivergent recruitment process that any IBM office can ‘turn on’ at any time.
    • Andrew suggests starting with a pilot program. This involves a number of steps:
      • Connect with a specialist mentor for guidance
      • Establish a core team and meet regularly. Andrew was lucky enough to connect with other individuals within IBM who shared his passion for the project
      • Create a mission and give it a name, and create a mission statement. Andrew’s initial mission was to employ 300 Neurodiverse people before 2020.
      • Create a wiki of information with a target in mind
      • Share your mission with HR and ask for their assistance with the program.
      • Build a formal proposal for a pilot program which outlines the costs and benefits
      • Present the proposal to senior executives via your own connections and request funds
      • Initiate pilot and map its success

For example, in the case of IBM, here is how the program rolled out:

    • IBM Lansing: 6 hires and a planned extension.
    • IBM Halifax: 1 hire
    • IBM Ballarat: Received 80 resumes, interviewed 16 candidates and made 10 hires. Planned extension in Australia and New Zealand
    • IBM Brazil: 7 hires (contractors for the first 6 months)
    • 10 IBM clients have accessed the program’s capabilities
How To Build a Business Case At Scale
  • Andrew suggests the following steps:
    • Build a brand and a logo
    • Consider recruitment approach
    • Direct Benefits: increased annual signings and increased revenue
    • Indirect Benefits: improved retention, morale boost for employees, productivity improvements and brand improvement
    • State of Neurodiversity: what is the current Neurodiversity strategy and results for individuals, clients and company?
    • Market Insights: What are your competitors doing? What are your clients doing?
    • Business Case: What is the cost and value of Neurodiversity in your organisation?
    • Define a communication strategy
    • Define a 2 year roadmap – what are the core activities needed to achieve your goals?
Best Practice Tips 
  • Offer full-time contracts for the neurodivergent employees as opposed to contract roles. Once employed, the employees were subject to the same management processes as other employees and are expected to perform.
  • Create a list of roles best suited to neurodivergent employees.
  • Ensure that there is support from existing employees and managers. 

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Equipping neurodivergent professionals, their support network and businesses with accessible resources to unleash their potential at work. 


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