In a rather touching blog post on one of Microsoft’s official blogs, Microsoft on the Issues, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Worldwide Operations, Mary Ellen Smith reflects on a recent presentation she made at the United Nations in honor of World Autism Awareness Day and Microsoft’s new pilot program with Specialisterne which aims to help people with autism find employment at Microsoft.
The blog post mentions Microsoft’s other efforts with employing autistic people such as their previous work with Supported Employment and vendor partners to hire people with autism for roles in event services, transportation, and food services. This latest program appears to be much more ambitious in scale and promises to give potential employees full-time positions at Microsoft and while mentioning that everyone is different, praises autistic individuals with an “amazing ability to retain information, think at a level of detail and depth or excel in math or code”.
Mary Ellen Smith, whose own son was diagnosed with autism at age 4, is passionate about helping those with autism and praises Microsoft’s efforts to create a diverse workforce that involves not just those with autism but those from other minority groups as well.
“This represents only one of the ways we are evolving our approach to increase the diversity of Microsoft’s workforce. We believe there is a lot of untapped potential in the marketplace and we are encouraged by the strong level of readiness from the vendors who cater to this segment.
Our effort goes beyond autism. We are passionate about hiring individuals of all disabilities and we believe with them, we can create, support, and build great products and services. Our customers are diverse and we need to be as well.”
Microsoft seems to be well on their way to a being a more diverse company and ranked among the most diverse companies in a recent study.