75% of Staff at this Successful IT Company Are on the Autism Spectrum
Ultra Testing is a New York-based software testing and quality assurance startup that employs over 60 workers remotely across 20 states, 75% of whom are on the autism spectrum. Not only is the company open to hiring neurodiverse employees, it actively seeks them out.
“We’re going up against global IT firms and performing significantly better,” says Ultra Testing’s cofounder and CEO Rajesh Anandan, citing contracts won away from IBM and Capgemini. “We’re staffing these teams with fantastically capable talent who just haven’t had a fair shot before.”
Anandan founded Ultra Testing alongside his former M.I.T. roommate Art Shectman after discovering research on the overlooked strengths common among autistic individuals. Anandan’s wife, who worked with autistic children at a community mental health clinic in Oakland, had also pointed out how much energy is spent trying to improve the skills that are lacking rather than nurturing the children’s often remarkable natural talents.
“Individuals on the autism spectrum are more likely to have strengths around pattern recognition, logical reasoning ability, enhanced focus, and so on,” says Anandan. “That’s not to say that everyone on the spectrum has those abilities, but based on peer-reviewed studies published in scientific journals, there is evidence that there is an over indexing of those abilities—and those very abilities are exactly what you would look for in quite a few roles, especially around quality engineering or quality assurance.”
Despite these strengths, however, only 35% of 18-year-olds with autism attend college, and only 15% of those who graduate find employment. As a result, nearly 80% of young adults with autism work part-time, earning an average salary of $9.11 per hour, according to Integrate Autism Employment Advisors, a nonprofit that helps those on the autism spectrum find employment.
“One of the biggest challenges, if you think about the interview process, is that it is a process that is largely dependent upon one’s social communication skills, and that is an area where many people—not all—but many people on the autism spectrum struggle,” says Integrate Advisor’s president, Marcia Scheiner.
Scheiner explains that those who have difficulty with nonverbal cues, answering behavioral interview questions, or engaging in small talk are likely to struggle in the interview process—even those that have the potential to be top performers. Her organization works with a range of Fortune 500 companies—including SAP, Microsoft, and JP Morgan Chase—to help them better identify and evaluate high-potential candidates of all abilities, especially those who might not excel in the traditional recruiting process.
“We talk about doing more skills-based interviews, as opposed to pure question-and-answer interviews,” she says. “[Candidates] may not be as adept at verbally describing to you what they might do in a certain situation, but if you give them a workbook in Excel with a problem, they’re going to blow you away with what they can do.”
Excerpted from “75% of staff at this successful IT company are on the autism spectrum” in Fast Company. Read the full article to learn more about Ultra Testing and their unique inclusive recruiting process.
Source: Fast Company | 75% of staff at this successful IT company are on the autism spectrum, https://www.fastcompany.com/90339945/75-of-staff-at-this-succesful-it-company-are-on-the-autism-spectrum | © 2019 Mansueto Ventures, LLC
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