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Americans Living with Autism are an Asset for Silicon Valley Chiefs

One businessman has found a large untapped market to help tech executives decrying a talent shortfall: people living with autism.

autism“You have this huge pool of talented labor that not many people are looking at,” Chad Hahn, co-founder and principal of software testing company Mindsparks, told Agence France-Presse.

“This is a perfect model to drive social change. Companies can really do well by doing good.”

Santa Monica-based MindSparks currently employs 27 analysts who can make between $35,000 and $50,000 a year. One of them is Corey Weiss, who’s condition has given him a laser focus on details.

“I see things others wouldn’t,” the 27-year-old, who was diagnosed with autism as a child, told AFP.

“This is a perfect model to drive social change. Companies can really do well by doing good.”

MindSpark’s success demonstrates how CEOs can strengthen their businesses by throwing their doors open to people suffering from physical and intellectual disabilities. A study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity shows organizations that perform better are 37% more likely to hire disabled people because they can be good talent matches for open positions.

According to CNBC, MindSparks has grown by 50% a year over the last three years and last week invited outside funding to ramp up its growth rate. The company’s current clients include entertainment giant 21st Century Fox and insurer Liberty Mutual.

Microsoft is among other companies that have started hiring people on the autism spectrum, of which around 80% are unemployed, according to the software giant. It launched a hiring program in the U.S. last year, which it extended to the UK in February.

“One of the challenges facing the UK economy is building a skilled future workforce,”  Michel Van der Bel, Microsoft’s UK CEO said at the time.

“While each individual is different, many people with neurodiverse conditions have skills which include a strong ability to retain information and analyse data, as well as in-depth and detailed computational thinking skills.”


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