What are America’s best employers for diversity doing to support diversity in the workplace?

A few weeks ago, multinational investment bank and financial services company Barclays announced a unique partnership with Scottish Autism to help make their office in Glasgow, Scotland, more accessible for autistic people.

“We’re delighted to be working alongside Barclays to support its aim of creating a welcoming, accessible and inclusive culture for not only autistic employees, but employees from all backgrounds, at the new Glasgow campus,” said Charlene Tait, the deputy chief executive at Scottish Autism, in an Insider magazine interview. “This new site will not only have a significant economic impact for Scotland, it will also provide an important employment opportunity for people from a diverse background who often face barriers into work, including autistic individuals and those with disabilities.”

Barclays is not the first company to make diversity and inclusivity a priority at their workplace. In fact, many industries — like Hollywood — are taking the necessary steps to be more accepting and accessible to people of all backgrounds and talents, including autistic individuals.

Recognizing this shift, Forbes magazine partnered with Statista, a market research firm, for their third-annual iteration of the Best Employers for Diversity in the United States. Though the complete list names the top 500 American employers, here is a breakdown of what the top three companies are doing to support diversity in the workplace:

1. SAP

IT, Internet, Software & Services / Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

SAP’s diversity and inclusion program is not new news, but it still has cause to be celebrated. At SAP, their “culture of inclusion and focus on health and well-being helps ensure that everyone — regardless of background — feels included and can run at their best. When we collaborate with others who have different points of view, it creates a greater mix of ideas and spurs innovation.”

They focus their program on three areas: inclusive career journeys, inclusive culture, and a diverse ecosystem in order to ensure that all stages of the employee journey are inclusive (from recruiting to retention), that leaders take responsibility for building and maintaining inclusivity, and that all tools are accessible for all employees in the organization.

Arguably one of their most-known diversity initiatives, SAP’s Autism at Work program focuses on hiring employees that are on the autism spectrum. According to recent statistics released by SAP, over 175 current SAP employees were hired through Autism at Work.

2️. Henry Ford Health System

Healthcare & Social / Detroit, Michigan

At Henry Ford Health System, “diversity always will be the foundation.” They employ a seven-winged “diversity lens” that covers the workforce; workplace; health and health care; marketplace; structural; behavioral; and the dimensions that extend beyond race, ethnicity, and gender.

This focus relates to how they recruit, hire, train, and promote talent; how they make employment and promotional decisions; and how they ensure that other personnel duties — i.e. compensation, benefits, transfers, reductions in force, company-sponsored training, education, tuition assistance, and social and recreation programs — are facilitated.

A unique feature of Henry Ford Health System’s diversity and inclusion program is their employee resource groups, which are groups organized by employees that “promote and encourage a culture of professional growth, build positive direct relationships with staff and maximize each employee’s contribution to the mission, vision and values of Henry Ford Health System.”

3️. Procter & Gamble

Packaged Goods / Cincinnati, Ohio

Procter & Gamble understands that “the more we understand people, their needs and challenges, the better we can delight them with our products and services. And while diversity is essential in all we do, we believe inclusion changes the game.”

The mission of their diversity and inclusion program is simple but powerful: “Everyone valued. Everyone included. Everyone performing at their peak.”

In addition to internal efforts like their Flex@Work program, recruiting and global supplier diversity initiatives, and global diversity and inclusion awards celebration, P&G also uses their platform in the advertising and media spaces to portray diverse and inclusive perspectives to help motivate change in the world.

For employees on the autism spectrum, P&G recognizes that “great minds do not think alike,” and have launched programs in their UK, Boston, Costa Rica, and Cincinnati offices to better recruit and retain autistic talent.

I believe Haley Moss said it best: “The future is now. The future is neurodiverse. The future is accessible. The future is people with disabilities. We’re here and ready. Are you?”

Neurodiversity is now; and, this year, it is my goal is to leverage my 35 years of experience in special education to help post-secondary institutions and places of employment better support neurodivergent students and employees so we can get closer to achieving #InclusionForAll.

If your university, college, or trade school does not provide clear pathways to graduation for neurodivergent students or if your business does not provide meaningful employment opportunities for members of the autism community, please send me a message. I would love to connect!

Dr. William Lane is a special education consultant, international speaker, and best-selling author who helps post-secondary institutions and businesses develop programs that create clear pathways to graduation and meaningful employment opportunities for neurodivergent individuals. For more information about Dr. Lane and his services, please visit his website.

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