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Diversity and inclusion

Coders with autism pave the way for more inclusive workplaces

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John Ryan

CEO, Great Place to Work

Diversity and inclusively may well be words that strike fear into employers. John Ryan, CEO of Great Place To Work, says improving diversity of minds is a good place to start.


The words ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ can be misinterpreted as being the same thing. For an organisation tasked with improving on both fronts, becoming more diverse is by far and away an easier task than being truly inclusive of the personnel they bring in.

Being inclusive of who people are, then moving on to building a more diverse workplace is a far more effective way for businesses to operate, according Ryan.

“If you see people purely as a set of skills, you’re missing out on the essence of who they are as individual human beings. That’s a really huge loss for an organisation.”

Ryan’s argument is based on the premise that, if inclusivity is absent in an organisation, its employees will inevitably end up being less innovative and creative.

Your workplace should reflect your market

Diversity, similarly, is often dismissed as a tick box exercise, with organisations completing a demographic assessment before deciding how they should recruit.

“Diversity is a mindset – not a tick box. It’s relishing the fact that, if you want to be relevant to your marketplace, your workforce has to reflect your marketplace.”

It’s good to have different mindsets on your team

‘Cognitive diversity’, according to Ryan, simply means employing people who think and operate differently to ourselves.

SAP, a software company who now look to employ 10% of their workforce from people on the autistic spectrum, have seen employees with autism flourish and repay the faith shown by their employer. Ryan recognises the need to adopt tailored management approaches that meet the needs of various individuals within an organisation in order to effect inclusivity, and hopes this will pave the way for similar initiatives.

“They’re not doing it to be nice. They’re doing it because it has genuinely been brilliant for their organisation.”

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