Alison Eveleigh | 05/12/2019
Andrew Williams from IBM suggests starting with a pilot program before developing a global business case.
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.
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.