SAP AG has announced that it will work globally with Specialisterne to employ people with autism as software testers, programmers and data quality assurance specialists. SAP sees a potential competitive advantage to leveraging the unique talents of people with autism, while also helping them to secure meaningful employment. It is estimated that one percent of the world’s population is affected by autism spectrum disorder.
Specialisterne is an leader in harnessing the talents of people with autism to work in technology-oriented jobs, such as software testing, programming and data management. Originally founded in Denmark, Specialisterne has operations around the world, including offices in the US, UK, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Iceland and Poland. As part of the partnership, Specialisterne will extend its operations to support SAP’s global expansion of the program over the next several years.
“By concentrating on the abilities that every talent brings to the table, we can redefine the way we manage diverse talents,” said Luisa Delgado, member of the executive board of SAP AG, human resources. “With Specialisterne, we share a common belief that innovation comes from the ‘edges.’ Only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st century.”
“We are very excited by this opportunity to enable SAP global access to a huge pool of untapped talent and therefore, help strengthen SAP’s position as a global leader in innovation,” said Thorkil Sonne, founder of Specialisterne and chairman of the board, Specialist People Foundation. “SAP is the first multinational company to partner with us on a global scale. The partnership will position SAP as thought leader and motivate the ecosystem to follow its example.”
The announcement follows successful pilot projects in India and Ireland that demonstrate the positive impact of empowering people with autism to excel in their areas of strength. Working locally with Specialisterne, SAP Labs in India hired six people with autism as software testers for SAP Business Suite applications. As a result, the team has increased their productivity and cohesiveness in key areas. The Ireland pilot is currently completing the screening phase for five positions to be filled this year. SAP will expand the program globally, starting in the US, Canada and Germany in 2013.
At SAP, an inclusive and diverse environment promotes a culture that enables employees to find innovative solutions to challenges facing customers as well as society as a whole. Furthering its engagement with the local community of people and families affected by autism, SAP Labs in India recently developed a consumer iPad application called “Bol” to assist with the education of children with autism. This innovative learning program helps children learn and comprehend simple, everyday objects and processes, using auditory, visual and instant feedback functions.
Specialisterne translates from Danish as “The Specialists”, and was originally founded in Denmark by Thorkil Sonne in 2004. Specialisterne is a socially innovative business that uses the characteristics of people with autism as a competitive advantage, and as a means to help people with autism secure employment. The majorityof the employees in Specialisterne have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, and work as consultants on tasks such as software testing, programming and data-entry for the corporate sector. Today, Specialisterne operations exist in Denmark, Poland, Iceland, Norway, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the U.S. and the UK. The Specialisterne concept is owned by the Specialist People Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, which drive the global scaling and community building.
SAP helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 238,000 customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably.