The company said it needs employees who think differently. It has been trailing a scheme since May 2013, dubbed Autism at Work. This aimed at recruiting and hiring adults on the autism spectrum.
The programme was such a success, SAP is currently working to expand it, with the goal of having one percent of its total workforce, or 650 people, who fall on the spectrum by 2020.
José Velasco, head of the Autism at Work program at SAP said the programme has shown tremendous growth with pilot programs in India, Ireland, Canada, the U.S. and Germany, and it has begun pilots in the Czech Republic and Brazil.
In March 2015 there were 40 employees on the spectrum as part of the programme and SAP expects to have 100 by the end of 2015.
The programme aims to tackle some of the biggest hurdles people with autism face. Velasco said that it was not the intelligence, skills and technical expertise necessary to thrive in the IT industry, but the lack of social skills and communication abilities that were critical to getting through the screening and interview process.
“People on the spectrum don’t tend to interview well. We have to ‘flip the script’ and ensure the screening and interview processes are tailored to their needs so they’re comfortable and can really allow their incredible talents and skills to shine,” Velasco said.
SAP is not the only one working on a programme like this. Microsoft started something similar in 2015. HP is piloting something similar in Australia.