The Council of the European Union held an internal event for members of staff within the European institutions to raise awareness about the capabilities of autistic people in the work place, and the ways in which reasonable accommodation can help integrate employees on the autism spectrum.
The event, co-organised by Autism-Europe on the 4th of December, was held to coincide with the European Days of Disability, and aimed specifically to raise awareness among staff about how the Council itself can be more open to neurodiversity, and harness the skills of autistic workers.
Presentations were given by Kristýna Rungeová from the Autism at Work Programme at SAP, and Johan Cappaert, an IT specialist on the autism spectrum working at the European Parliament in Brussels.
In her presentation, Rungeová gave concrete examples of the way in which SAP approaches its hiring process and on-the-job support to facilitate the inclusion of autistic workers. SAP is a multinational software corporation with offices in more than 130 countries, and which has a goal of having 1% of its workforce on the autism spectrum. She explained to participants how their recruitment process focuses on showing aptitude rather than focusing on communication skills, and how employees on the autism spectrum are assisted in their professional and personal development on the job.
Rungeová clarifies that SAP does not see the hiring of autistic employees as a social responsibility, but that creating an atmosphere where people can be their autistic-selves with the necessary support to use their talents, makes sense from a business point of view. SAP is keen to share its experience with other businesses.
Johan Cappaert spoke more precisely about what it means to him to be autistic in the work place, weighing up the challenges and the particular talents his autism gives him in his particular function within the European Parliament. Cappaert also said to those present about the autistic self-advocacy movement, as well as the society’s evolving view of the condition.
Prior to the start of the event, staff from Autism-Europe, Rungeová and members of staff from the Council met with the Equality and Diversity manager at the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) to discuss the ways in which the recruitment process for jobs in the EU institutions could be made more accessible for persons on the autism spectrum.
During this meeting participants learned how EPSO is already taking steps to improve the accessibility of their test centres, as well as other stages of the selection process. EPSO is also working alongside the European Disability Forum (EDF) in creating a communication plan to attract more talented candidates with disabilities to apply for jobs in the EU institutions.
It was agreed that Autism-Europe and SAP would work alongside EPSO in helping them to accommodate for the particular needs of autistic candidates in particular.