This morning I was following my Sunday ritual of reading the paper and watching CBS Sunday Morning at the same time. While reading a particularly distressing article about political gridlock I happened to hear our partner SAP mentioned by the commentator on the program. That got my attention immediately.
Turns out that SAP has been an international innovator in seeking out and hiring folks with autism. Apparently many of these people are extremely employable but suffer the same fate as others who are challenged, stereotyped and placed into an unfair box.
Many autistic people, through hard work and determination, fight through the challenges and manage to complete college degrees and function independently in society. The sad thing is that so few know what productive members of the community and the workplace they can be. But SAP tapped into this resource and has hired hundreds of highly intelligent and motivated autistic people. They have roles in everything from high tech programming to customer service. They are surrounded by colleagues who understand their situation and offer support and encouragement. Most even have designated mentors who help them settle in and provide ongoing counseling.
One of our goals for the next year or so is to realize a long term dream of forming The ACUMEN Foundation. My particular focus may be on Downs syndrome people (for reasons best saved for a future blog) but we are also very much committed to supporting our returning military people with organizations like Fisher House.
And now we have a shining example of how corporations can be active in solving cultural challenges. Of course SAP is a beneficiary in many ways. After all, as I mentioned, many of these people have extremely high IQs and are very motivated to succeed. None the less, it is a win-win situation and I have to say I am proud to have a partner in SAP who is innovative, socially responsible and committed to a better, more inclusive work place.