Top 10 Autism Friendly Employers

According to research, performing job-related activities helps to reduce symptoms and increase daily living skills for those with autism; however, only about half of autistic adults are employed. There's no doubt that employment is elusive for adults on the spectrum. This reality, however, is changing fast.

In January 2019, an article appeared in Forbes entitled "Effective Autism (Neurodiversity) Employment: A Legal Prospective." Such an article would have been nonexistant a decade prior. Instead, the article pointed to major initiatives by top tech employers, such as SAP and Microsoft, and the beneficial impact of their workplace inclusion programs.

Why More Autism-Friendly Employers?

The reasons for this rapid expansion of opportunities aren't absolutely clear, but it seems clear that there are at least four.

  • First, there is vastly increased awareness of autism in general. A huge increase in diagnoses (for whatever set of reasons) means that 1 in 54 American children is autistic.
  • Second, the increase in diagnoses is, at least in part, the result of much broader diagnostic criteria for autism. Instead of including only severely disabled individuals, the autism spectrum now includes individuals with high intelligence and significant skills.
  • Third, there is an increasing need for workers with the skills, thought patterns, and work ethic that are common among people on the autism spectrum. Autistic adults are, in general, dependable, routinized, focused, detail-oriented, and passionate about their work. Many have outstanding technical and/or math skills. And quite a few are able to find unique solutions to problems that have eluded their more conventional colleagues.
  • Fourth, people with autism often prefer repetitive work and may not have a strong desire or need for novelty. This can be an asset in many jobs and can be hard to find within the general community.

Knowing that autistic workers are increasingly in demand, where are the best jobs? Here's a run-down of some of the top opportunities for adults on the spectrum. As you'll see, some of these companies are open to people with a wide range of abilities; others are looking specifically for high-functioning individuals with particular skill sets. Some see autism as just one of many disabilities, while others are focused on autism because of the skills most prevalent among folks on the spectrum. In every case, however, these companies are more than willing to hire people with an autism spectrum diagnosis.

1

Microsoft

Microsoft's dedicated Autism Hiring Program offers job recruitment and career development strategies related to diversity and inclusion. Inspired by an employee with an autistic son, the program includes a multi-day hands-on academy that focuses on job capabilities, team projects, and skills assessment. The non-traditional hiring event gives candidates a chance to reveal their talents and meet hiring managers and teams while learning about Microsoft and its opportunites. Microsoft notes that people with autism have succeeded in multiple full- and part-time employment roles, including software engineers and data scientists.

2

SAP

SAP is a very large tech firm based in Germany but with offices located around the world. The company has a strong diversity program which includes "Autism at Work." SAP's groundbreaking Autism at Work program launched in 2013, and integrates adults with autism into the workforce. Currently, more than 175 SAP colleagues are employed via the Autism at Work program.

3

Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, a government-owned corporation that buys mortgages and packages them into mortgage-backed securities.

Unlike many other companies, Freddie Mac specifically reaches out to people with autism because they see autistic traits as being positives for their particular needs. To do this, they actually partnered with a group of autistic self-advocates, something that is most unusual in the corporate world.

In 2012, Freddie Mac partnered with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) to develop an Autism Internship Program intended to match the needs of their business with capabilities of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The program is geared to highly qualified individuals who have had a hard time finding or keeping work due to problems with social communication. The team at Freddie Mac works with each individual to match abilities to jobs and help build "soft" skills.

4

Ford

Ford partnered with the Autism Alliance of Michigan to found a program called FordInclusiveWorks with the specific goal of hiring and supporting employees on the autism spectrum. Ford worked with the Product Development Vehicle Evaluation and Verification supervisors and Human Resources to determine employment needs, and then teamed up with the Autism Alliance of Michigan to understand the talents and strengths of those with autism. Ford's efforts have been lucrative in hiring and retaining employees with autism.

5

Ernst and Young

Ernst and Young is a huge international accounting firm that has discovered the value of neurodiversity to its bottom line. According to its website, "Companies are finding that people with autism approach problems differently and that their logical, straightforward thinking can spur process improvements that greatly increase productivity."

As a company that is actively trying to recruit people with autism, Ernst and Young determined that "though many people with autism are intelligent, well-educated and eager to work, they often face interpersonal challenges that make it difficult to get in the door." To address this and related issues, the company created a project team to find, train, and place autistic employees. They also created a unique "Center of Excellence" in Philadelphia specifically geared to making the most of autistic employees' particular strengths.

6

Walgreens

Walgreens runs a program called REDI, which stands for Retail Employees with Disabilities. Working with local agencies, they provide externs with training in specific skill areas and then evaluate each individual to place them appropriately. According to their website: "Those who graduate REDI and attain an evaluation score of 3.0 or higher earn a “recommended for hire” designation, can bypass the standard Hourly Selector assessment if applying for CSA (customer service associate) roles at Walgreens, and will be able to apply for CSA positions nationwide."

7

Home Depot and CVS Caremark (Ken's Krew)

Both Home Depot and CVS Caremark partnered with an organization called Ken's Krew to recruit and train disabled employees. In fact, a co-founder of Home Depot played an important role in getting Ken's Krew started. The program provides job matching, training, job coaching, community supports, and more. To date, Ken's Krew associates are working in over 90 Home Depot stores and 18 CVS stores across the country.

8

AMC

AMC partners with Autism Speaks, and AMC's FOCUS program, which stands for Furthering Opportunities, Cultivating Untapped Strengths, is an AMC employee development program specifically directed toward hiring disabled individuals. According to their website, A​MC "provides individuals affected by disabilities with access to opportunities for competitive employment, wages, and benefits side-by-side with other associates in our theatres."​

9

Autism-Focused Businesses

More young adults with autism are finishing school and struggling to enter the workforce. At the same time, more businesses are discovering the benefits of hiring autistic employees. These two factors, together, are spurring the growth of small businesses built around the strengths of autistic workers. A few of these businesses in the United States include:

A Word From Verywell

If you or a loved one with autism is starting to look into job options, it makes sense to do some homework to uncover some of the possibilities. Even autistic individuals with limited skills have more opportunities than ever before. Your local vocational agencies may not know about all the options, so it's up to you to explore what's out there, what's possible, and how to apply.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. autism speaks. Autism statistics and facts.

  2. Forbes. Effective autism (neurodiversity) employment: a legal perspective. January 15, 2019.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data and statistics on autism spectrum disorder. Updated March 25, 2020.

  4. Microsoft. Global diversity and inclusion.

  5. Microsoft. Join us: Working together to help people with autism enter the workforce.

  6. SAP. SAP diversity and inclusion.

  7. Freddie Mac. Autism as an asset in the workplace.

  8. Ford. How Ford is diversifying the workforce, including employing those with autism.

  9. Ernst and Young. How neurodiversity is driving innovation from unexpected places. Updated May 10, 2019.

  10. Walgreens. REDI retail employees with disabilities program guide.

  11. Ken's Krew. Employment partners.

  12. AMC Theatres. AMC diversity and inclusion.

  13. autism speaks. Changing the spectrum: Autism in the workplace. July 30, 2018.