Inspiration

Sir Richard Branson invests in autistic workers

By Kitty Knowles 21 October 2016
Richard Branson is backing Auticon to support tech workers with autism. Pic: CC/Flickr/William Murphy
Summary

Ditch the stigma around disability.

British entrepreneur Richard Branson has long disregarded convention.

In fact this year he said that dyslexia was be his greatest strength, because it allows him to think and work in unusual ways.

It should come as no surprise then that the Virgin boss is supportive of other groups of people whose conditions give them different perspectives on life.

Or that this week, he’s backed a social enterprise that exclusively hires technology workers who are on the autism spectrum.

Supporting autistic workers

Autistic adults often have extraordinary cognitive abilities, yet many find it difficult to secure or maintain mainstream employment.

In the UK, just 15% of autistic adults are in full time employment, despite 79% of people with autism on out-of-work benefits wanting to work.

Now though Virgin Group, alongside UK charity the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, has announced a new investment in Auticon, a social enterprise that exclusively hires IT consultants who have autism.

Founded in Germany in 2011, Auticon permanently employs 70 autistic employees, and has high-profile clients including Siemens and Allianz.

British diversity

Auticon launched its UK office in spring 2016 and the latest investment will enable it to recruit autistic candidates from across Britain.

In doing so the company hopes to promote social change in attitudes towards autism across the country.

“Employment rates among autistic adults are a hugely challenging social issue in the UK and globally,” said Branson.

“Helping companies and employees overcome these hurdles is crucial if we’re to enable autistic persons to use their unique skills successfully in the job market.”

We support Branson – don’t let an outdated stigma about disability stop you from hiring the best.

Read more: Richard Branson: “Dyslexia is my greatest strength”

Read more: Tearful mum thanks Pokémon Go for changing autistic boy’s life

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