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 IBM Brings Neurodiverse Talent & Thinking to Technical Roles

Application testing requires enormous attention to detail, technical mastery and, sometimes, the ability to see potential flaws that most people cannot recognize. IBM is recruiting individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to add their distinct skills and perspective to that discipline.
IBM IGNITE, which offers application testing and quality services to a range of global clients, has piloted a program, IGNITE ASD, to place high-functioning individuals with ASD in technical roles. Following the success of the pilot in Michigan, IGNITE ASD has launched in Australia, and is expanding to Argentina, Brazil, and Canada. By this year, 2020, in partnership with the Specalisterne Foundation, IBM has planned to create 300 new IBM jobs for people with ASD.
The goal of IGNITE ASD is to bring neurodiverse talent and thinking to application testing. Among high-functioning people with ASD, the major distinction from the neurotypical population is perspective. High-functioning people with ASD see the world from perspectives that are complementary to the mainstream.
Individuals with ASD “see so many different things that we won’t see, and that’s because of how they look at anomalies a little differently,” according to IGNITE Test Lead Kim Metzker.
The result has been improved quality of application testing for clients including Ahold Delhaize, a global food company that owns Giant, Hannaford, Stop and Shop, and other major grocery brands.
The program has also helped transform the lives of its first recruits, many of whom had struggled with traditional recruiting and interviewing. Several of these IBM employees have also been profiled in the documentary, When Neurodiversity Works, which was released in advance of World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, last year.
IGNITE ASD is having profound effects on adults with ASD, and IBM is proud to expand it to additional countries.
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