Software application developers are, generally (somewhat unfortunately) mostly white, male, pretty standard guys with good educations, a predilection for pizza and often somewhat questionable facial hair.
As we know, with all manner of women in technology, girls who code and female technology empowerment programmes now running across the planet, we are starting to change that imbalance.
So what comes next for diversity?
Once we embrace gender diversity (for all genders, including non-binary definitions) and of course make sure that we have accommodated for physical disabilities, we can start to look other areas such as differences in sexual orientation, cultural background or religious orientation and all other areas where inclusivity and belonging really matter.
After that (not to suggest that any one of the above should come before or after another necessarily), what comes next for diversity?
We can now look to also think about the abilities that ‘differently-abled neuro-diverse’ people can bring to the workplace and the world of software development and programming.
That’s not a term that comes up a lot and is perhaps something of a new notion, so here’s what we hope is an illustrative example.
SAP this week noted that HSBC is the 2019 recipient of the Klaus Tschira Human Resources Innovation Award for digitally transforming its Human Resources (HR) department, which looks after some 275,000 people around the globe.
Along with the award, SAP made a €10,000 donation to the National Autistic Society, the UK’s leading charity for autistic people and their families, on behalf of HSBC. This move comes in line with SAP setting itself a goal for employing some 650 people across the autistic spectrum globally by 2020 – a figure the company will no doubt revise over time as it goes forward.
“HSBC has made its employees the focus of its digital HR transformation,” said SAP SuccessFactors president Greg Tomb. “The inclusion of differently-abled, neuro-diverse people is a shared vision of both HSBC and SAP. Our own Autism at Work programme builds a culture of inclusion by recognizing the unique skills and contributions of autistic colleagues, and we are honoured to make this donation to the National Autistic Society.”
HSBC has used SAP SuccessFactors to change the way it manages and delivers its employee experience, from compensation and career development to succession planning.
The Klaus Tschira HR Innovation Award commemorates SAP cofounder Klaus Tschira’s vision to help organisations unleash the full potential of their employees.
Autism suits programming
According to Otsimo, some of the strengths we might often be able to identify in autistic people are below (we have selected those points which may be best suited to programming/developer roles) – you can click the link in this para to see the corresponding challenges too:
- Strong long-term memory skills
- Mathematics, computer, musical, artistic skills
- Thinking in a visual way
- Detail oriented
- Independent thinkers less concerned about what others think of them
- Non-judgmental listening
- Extensive knowledge resulting from deep study in favourite topics
- Understanding rules and sequences
- An intensive focus when working on a favorite activity
The next developer skillset initiative could (and should) feature more differently-abled neuro-diverse people.