Procter and Gamble, the Cincinnati-based consumer goods corporation, has diversified its workforce by hiring four managers with autism.
According to a report this month by Biz Journals.com, the managers began working at the company full-time on October 14 and will focus on digital solutions for business processes. They were hired after a five-week evaluation at P&G’s headquarters in downtown Cincinnati.
Unemployment remains a serious problem for many on the autistic spectrum. 85% of those diagnosed with autism lack gainful employment, despite having specialized skills suited for careers in technology, science, engineering, and math. P&G has made clear that it appreciates the gifts of people with autism, perceiving their differences as a strength, rather than a drawback. This view was expressed by Laura Becker, P&G’s president for Global Business Services.
“P&G began a neurodiversity program to ensure we can fully tap into the broadest set of talent available, benefiting from the unique ideas and capabilities of a diverse group,” Becker said, according to Biz Journal’s report. “I want P&G to be a place where neuro- diversity is a win for the business, the organization and the individuals.”
Patrick Blair, a spokesman for P&G, explained that the company established the Neurodiversity Smart Automation Center in Cincinnati to tap into the talents of individuals with autism.
“By smart automation, we’re referring to labor-intensive processes that could be streamlined or automated,” he said. “These roles are often filled with STEM talent – expertise in science, technology, engineering and math.”
While autism can impair socialization and verbal communication abilities, those on the spectrum can often be highly detail-oriented, with strong information processing, analytical, and mathematical skills, along with a talent for information processing.
Becker said bringing the managers with autism on board has already impacted the company in a positive way.
“Since our first neurodiverse team was hired eight months ago in Costa Rica, they have been highly impactful to the business and the organization,” she said. “Each day, they teach us the value of inclusion and a growth mindset.”
Danny Lakes, one of the new hires at P&G, said the new position has been a major self-confidence and self-esteem boost, as well as a great career opportunity.
“Before starting this program, if I’m being honest, I didn’t think any company would truly care about my disability or how to utilize it in a way to bring out the best in me,” Lakes was quoted as saying.
“I was perfectly content to go through life just sort of going from here to there and finding a place that works for a bit, knowing that it wouldn’t last because eventually people don’t understand,” Lakes added. “Without this program, I was honestly lost. I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to move out on my own. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be independent. ... This program essentially gave me the opportunity of a lifetime."