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Tech Giant SAP Seeks To Hire More Autistic Adults (cio.com) 165

itwbennett writes: In May 2013, SAP launched its Autism at Work program, with the goal of recruiting and hiring 'hundreds of people' with autism worldwide. Now the company is expanding the program, and is looking to have people on the autism spectrum make up 1 percent of its total workforce (~650 people) by 2020, says José Velasco, head of the Autism at Work program at SAP. So far, autistic workers fulfill all kinds of roles in IT — from software testing, data analysis, quality assurance to IT project management, graphic design, finance administration and human resources, Velasco says, and the potential for new roles is expanding rapidly.
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Tech Giant SAP Seeks To Hire More Autistic Adults

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @12:16PM (#51088611)
    If you're looking for peeps on the spectrum, you came to the right place.
    • by KGIII ( 973947 ) <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @12:29PM (#51088693) Journal

      Hmm... I expect no more unemployed people on Slashdot.

      That said, they're going to capitalize the ever living hell out of people's mental disorder and are trying to spin this as a positive thing? What's next? Hiring people in wheelchairs specifically so you can save money on office furniture? We want to save on the water bill, it's a green initiative, so we're hiring people with catheters!

      Hmm... I'm a cynical bastard today.

      • Tax breaks for employing people with a handicap?? People are altruistic, not corporations.

        • If corporations are not altruistic, and people make up corporations, what makes you think that people are altruistic?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I work for the Navy, and they are currently in the process of switching their entire financial system to a SAP ERP system (my command has been using it for about 2 years now). The Navy LOVES paying extra for services from companies that hire the disabled (my notepads say "made by blind people"). I can't help but think that someone did the math and found out after tax breaks and premiums on government contracts that it pays very well to hire the disabled. Hell, that's practically skillcrafts entire business

      • What if they gave their employees awesome new wheel chairs?

      • by dave420 ( 699308 )

        They are looking for people with useful abilities which can make, not save, money. You are not being cynical, just missing the point entirely.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How about they just hire whoever is best qualified for the job, regardless of gender, skin color, age, or brain function? Just give everyone an equal chance? Is that too hard?

    The main problem is HR that should be anti-discrimination is the biggest discriminator. If you have dirty clothes and tattoos that might "reflect badly" on the company you've got no chance. Same with autistics that they think belong moving boxes in the warehouse so they don't upset the girls in marketing.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No. If anything, it is the neurotypical persons that are more likely to receive discrimination. Neurotypicality is a handicap.

      • Neurotypicality is only a handicap when you're trying to install gentoo.
        • by narcc ( 412956 )

          I never understood this bizarre fantasy so many Slashdot users have of being diagnosed with autism. It's not a superpower, it's a disability.

          It doesn't make you more logical, rational, or better at maths. [childmind.org]

          It's not going to excuse antisocial behavior either.

          Instead of fantasizing that you are or could be autistic, how about you work on your maths, social skills, and hygiene. You'll find more fulfillment and success that way.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      They have identified a problem (autistic people find it hard to get good jobs) that they want to try to address. They are saying they want 1% of their workforce to be on the spectrum. That means 99% are not. So before you feel outrage at the terrible discrimination against the poor straight while males, consider that 99% of the positions are available to them.

      In fact 1% is about the proportion of people with autism of some kind anyway, so all they are really saying is that they want to stop (unintentionally

      • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

        "unless you believe that autistic people are simply inferior."

        People with true autism have a mental handicap whether you like it or not. They CANNOT interact normally with other people and this is rather important even in IT where you may be required to work in collaborative teams. The lone antisocial bedroom developer might work for writing little homegrown apps but it doesn't work in large companies.

        Also hiring people because of their handicap regardless of whether they're as suitable as another n

        • Re:HOW ABOUT (Score:4, Insightful)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@world3.LAPLACEnet minus math_god> on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @01:08PM (#51088969) Homepage

          Also hiring people because of their handicap regardless of whether they're as suitable as another normal candicate is not only patronising to all concerned but is doing the austistic a disservice as they'll more than likely struggle in the role and reinforce the stereotype.

          Wow. How about you treat autistic people like human beings and accept that if they tell you they can do a job and appear qualified and make a good impression at the interview, maybe they are not lying?

          I have a disability. If I tell someone I can do a job it's not because I'm lying to get the job. That would be pointless, I'd switch to their company, be found out and end up unemployed. In fact I'd make damn sure that I could do the job and they would be accommodating before even accepting it.

          • Also hiring people because of their handicap regardless of whether they're as suitable as another normal candicate is not only patronising to all concerned but is doing the austistic a disservice as they'll more than likely struggle in the role and reinforce the stereotype.

            Wow. How about you treat autistic people like human beings and accept that if they tell you they can do a job and appear qualified and make a good impression at the interview, maybe they are not lying?

            I have a disability. If I tell someone I can do a job it's not because I'm lying to get the job. That would be pointless, I'd switch to their company, be found out and end up unemployed. In fact I'd make damn sure that I could do the job and they would be accommodating before even accepting it.

            Autistic people are gifted. They can focus, and do a job exceedingly well. Give them programming, quality-control testing, and well defined tasks, and many can do that part better than the "brilliant, but scatterbrained" software engineer. SAP is in a win-win situition.

        • Nice "no true scotsman" argument.

          Anyone who is on the spectrum, anywhere on the spectrum, has true autism.

          Many on the spectrum can be outstanding employees if they are given a little support. Aiming to bring the employee autistic population in to line with the general population's % is not that big an aim.

          If a company stated they wanted to increase their physically disabled employee count, and they aimed to do this by putting ramps etc in, so that the disabled can function in that work environment, this wou

        • What do you mean by "true autism"? Many people on the spectrum can indeed work normally with other people in collaborative teams. It happens by a somewhat different approach, but that isn't necessarily a problem.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        So before you feel outrage at the terrible discrimination against the poor straight while males,

        You do realize that you were the one to bring this up right?

        What happened no SJW story on Friday so your chomping at the bit for the next one to show up?

    • Right, which means people on the autistic spectrum will get all of the good tech jobs and leave nothing for anyone else.

    • Your second paragraph suggests that you think autistic people have problems getting jobs (certainly true for many on the spectrum). In that case, the best qualified person available might well be on the spectrum, and by encouraging people with ASD to apply SAP may be finding more competent people.

  • On the Tech Support call line.

    I thought about 90% of all the people I worked with at SAP were either autistic, or lied on their resume about their qualifications.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @12:39PM (#51088763)

    I read this as, "Let's hire first-world developers, and give them non-stop coding work for 100 hour weeks. They love this sort of thing, so it's a win-win! And, we don't even have to pay them as much since they're just working constantly!"

    Actually, if it's not an exploitative relationship, why not encourage autistic hiring in development? It's a good counter-point to the recent hyper-social brogrammer style startup environment, where autistic tendencies would be frowned upon. SAP's a perfect test case for this as well -- anyone who has worked even on the periphery of an SAP implementation can attest to the insane system architecture and massive tower of layered code that's built up.

    I'm "normal" but tend toward the introverted side, like most "classical" IT guys and developers. It is nice to see some effort to cater to people who aren't natural-born communicators.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In EU countries companies get serious subsidies if they hire people with disabilities ...

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @12:41PM (#51088779) Journal
    This program by SAP seems to be very similar to the very successful program that has been used by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citibank, RBS, Credit Suisse etc. The only variation seems to be, SAP is seeking people with autism related disorders. The pioneering companies mentioned earlier exclusively recruited people with psychopathy, narcissistic disorders, extreme apathy and similar disorders. It has been going on for so long the top management consists entirely of people with these afflictions, often multiple afflictions. Their "alumni" who have left for other companies have created similar hiring and promotion programs in other companies that the entire top echelon of Fortune 500 companies consists of these psychopaths.
  • That will drastically reduce errors
  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @12:45PM (#51088805)
    As someone who grew up with a diagnosis, and has worked as a software developer/team lead for 15 years, getting paid well, and even promoted into architect roles... I am super lucky that I focused on being able to "pass" early on.

    Though I am hired and paid and valued based on the skills that I have which are related directly to my diagnosis, I would never tell a perspective employer that I have the dreaded 'tism. Passing is much more lucrative, and even when I have a lower technical skill level than other members of my repressed class, I manage to make more money than them, because I can talk to management.

    I highly recommend "business" books such as "Hug your customers" and other trendy MBA type books. Business interaction isn't nearly as hard as say high school, or social gatherings, because business interactions have specific enumerated rules, that have been written down, and are generally agreed upon. This is a boon for Autistic people trying to have successful careers because that means we don't have to rely on an instinct that is present in others but not us. Business interactions are already scripted, and working a script is significantly easier than navigating unspoken social protocol.

    I applaud SAP for this initiative, but I urge working autistic adults to eliminate their own need for such programs by spending time learning the protocols of business, it is similar in scale to learning the rules to Magic the Gathering, but way more financially rewarding.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      SAP is probably not hiring people who can pass as neurotypical in this program.

      • that is my point. It is a great program, but an autistic person who is hired outside of this program will be much less of a second class citizen, making it a much more financially desirable thing to pass as NT.

        Although it would be way less exhausting, and possibly worth the hit to your paycheck to not have to constantly watch your Ps and Qs, and to just let your Aut-flag fly all day. It just comes down to why you work. I work for money. I would prefer to do something I am good at and something intere
        • This.

          Even having to spend time with people I cannot "turn off" (by closing a window) is stressful to me. Especially if they want something from me, like an answer. My mind is usually a mile past the problem they're currently discussing, so coming up with an answer on the spot is anything but trivial for me. To stay in a single conversation demands more concentration than any "sane" person can possibly imagine.

          There is no possible price tag you could stick to something like this.

    • Business interaction isn't nearly as hard as say high school, or social gatherings, because business interactions have specific enumerated rules, that have been written down, and are generally agreed upon.

      LOL, OK, on behalf of those of us without a clinical diagnosis, but craptacular human interaction skills ... for the love of god, please tell us where these rules are written down.

      Nobody told me there was a frickin' manual for this stuff.

      • Ok so this is it, lets say you are a developer. Your boss, the "business people," the users of the software, the QA team, those are your customers. Secondary to writing code, you are a sales person, and your product is "please keep paying me money to write code" These are the fluffy, piece of shit MBA books that I live my work life by: Raving Fans [amazon.com]
        Hug your customers [amazon.com]
        I used to use a different book for Meetings, but this one is way better, and is even styled as if it is some sort of science: Powerfully Si [amazon.com]
    • eh, I think I could probably get a lot more done and be a lot happier if I didn't have to bother passing, so it would be nice if telling an employer that I'm autistic was as simple as explaining that I'm left handed.
      • Is autistic.
        Tries to "pass" as normal.
        Creates username "king neckbeard".

        • I have to pass in the workplace. That doesn't mean I try to pass everywhere. That's one of the best parts about solitude, I don't have to meet anybody's expectations but my own, which I can assess much more reliably.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @01:31PM (#51089147)

    ...they're going to be responsible for the user interface.

  • Good grief. Trying to get anything done is SAP is already a nightmare. Now they're going to give their convoluted instructions to people who will, sorry for the wording, mindlessly follow them to the bitter end and claim everything is okay?

    I used to joke that for being a German company, SAP didn't make very efficient software. I can only imagine how much worse it will now become.

    • Well, can SAP get any worse?

      I'm thinking that since austic tend to be retentive and want simplicity the UI might actually improve!

      Have to wait and see I guess.

    • This may actually be a very smart move on their part. As the architect of a very meta-driven, open-ended, polymorphous software framework, I have 2 things to thank for its ongoing elegance and lack of insane bloaty bullshit that is the SAP UI:

      1) I have drawn my most important lessons on how not to do things from the SAP UI - and I only interact with it to do a timesheet once a week. A few years ago I coined the phrase 'SAP-itis' to refer to frameworks so ridiculously abstract and poorly factored that the

  • I doubt they are after those who are truly autistic, my guess is that they want the aspergers (functional autistic). Aspergers are known to have an attention to detail and focus on what they are doing that the current generation of developers do not have even under effect of pure caffeine, then you have better chances of having a good code in boring (but fundamental) cases that the teeny "rockstars" do not want to come close even with long sticks.
    • by sbaker ( 47485 )

      The definitions of Autism and Aspergers changed recently. The DSM (which is a technical book that is the bible for people dealing with mental disorders) came out with a new version last year that replaced Aspergers, Autism and a couple of related conditions into a new thing called: "Autism Spectrum Disorder" (ASD) - so in "official" terms, there is no longer such a thing as "Aspergers Syndrome" - it's just a range of symptoms on a spectrum that ranges from normality to the most severely Autistic people ima

  • I am generally not in favor of quotas but when it comes to people with disabilities I think we should do all we can to help them get engaged in the workforce. The key is to find a job where that individual will be given the chance to excel. Just sayin.

  • "...the goal of recruiting and hiring 'hundreds of people' with autism" Yeah, that explains a lot about their user interface.
  • Is this an advert? Looks like this "news" is in the ./ rotation. It comes up every now and then.

  • Listen, I used to think that I had asperger too but what really I suffered from was a lack of self confidence and a form of social anxiety disorder. I did not trust myself and my feelings about other people or other people.

    Here is what you should do. Get off your arse, start eating right and exercising and find a way to make new friends in the "real world". For me, that was by going to church and becoming involved in the Alpha course. Through that course, I learned more about the faith, met some great new

    • Ugh. Just...ugh. I think there are some scientologists that would love to talk to you.
    • So, you handed in one disorder for another one?

      As long as you feel happier ... no objections.

    • What you just said is that you don't have Asperger's but figured out what your other problems were and solved them. Congratulations (and that's not sarcastic). You continue by implying that people with Asperger's can do just what you did and have the same success. Seriously, the ASD people I know have better logic than that, so I believe you misdiagnosed yourself.

  • by brian.stinar ( 1104135 ) on Thursday December 10, 2015 @12:29AM (#51093213) Homepage

    It looks like the Americans with Disabilities Act only prohibits discriminating against people with disabilities, and not discriminating for them. I didn't see any mention of outlawing discriminating for people with disabilities (see Sec. 12112. Discrimination, here [ada.gov].)

     

  • Just as long as these people are not exploited for their talents (extreme case, see "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex", episode 11) and are treated as any other worker, sounds good to me.

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