How to Build a Business Case for Neurodiverse Recruitment

By Alison Eveleigh | Blog, NeuroWork, SYDND, #1 | 5 Dec 2019 |

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. 

What do you think? Join the discussion on the NeuroWork Social Journalism Forum. The full symposium coverage will be rolled out over the next few editions into January 2020. 

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