Championing Neurodiversity at Work
Neurodivergent employees have a wide range of skills that can benefit all lines of business, which is why Schwab is standing up a new program called: Neurodiversity at Work
By Chelsey Sleator, Senior Manager, Communications
April is Autism Awareness Month, and when looking at autism in the workplace, the statistics are grim. Fewer than one in six autistic adults are employed full-time. And of those working, 51% indicate that their skills are higher than what their current job offers.1
Neurodivergent2 employees have a wide range of transferable skills that can be leveraged by all employers and lines of business, which is why Schwab is standing up a new program called: Neurodiversity at Work.
The Neurodiversity at Work program is focused on employing autistic talent and demonstrating Schwab’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“We have a need for talent, and there is an employment gap in this community,” explains Lauren Manza who is on the D&I Talent Acquisition team and is driving the program along with her colleague Walter Donovan III on the D&I team. “So, it’s really a win-win situation.”
Education and Commitment
Through the program, Schwab plans to hire 10-15 talented neurodivergent individuals with a unique hiring event slated to take place in early summer.
After the individuals are brought on board, the focus will be on giving the new hires the support they need to thrive, including professional development workshops on topics like executive functioning—the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.
Additionally, managers will be supported with training courses focused on topics like best practices of working in a neurodiverse environment.
Building an Inclusive Culture
“I’m sure a lot of us have family or there are people we know that have autism. I see these statistics, and I think ‘Why not at Schwab?’” explains Kent Clark, one of the executive sponsors of the program. “This place and our culture give me energy, so it felt like adding this talent force would be a big win for Schwab.”
“As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I fully appreciate the opportunity we have at Schwab” explains Erin Amerlan, another executive sponsor of the program. “We’ll be able to better support the communities we serve and our employees through Neurodiversity at Work.”
Neurodiversity at Work
And while the initial focus is on bringing in new talent, the systems that are built for the program will be adapted for the neurodivergent Schwabbies that are already employed at Schwab. This includes bringing in accessible applications and systems, on which the Neurodiversity at Work team is currently conducting a gap analysis.
“I encourage everyone to get behind the program and to start being more proactive about learning about neurodivergence,” explains Walter. “Also, be amenable to modifying management and communication styles. And think about how we can make our processes even more inclusive.”
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1 National Autism Indicators Report, Drexel University, 2020
2 Neurodivergent: Defined as neurologic functioning that diverges form the societally deemed “normal” neurotype. e.g., ADHD, autism, Tourette’s, dyslexia, dyspraxia