EY neurodivergent employees
Neurodivergent employees excelled at innovation in the first diversity centres, EY found. Credit: EY

EY targets autistic recruits to boost AI work

The consultancy giant is to roll out a network of neuro-diverse centres of excellence in 13 locations after a successful trial.

Based on the experience of EY in the US, when compared to their colleagues, neurodivergent employees excelled at innovation.

The emerging NCoE programme is designed “to create a supportive working environment for individuals with cognitive differences – such as autism, dyslexia and ADHD – that will help them to apply their strengths and meet clients’ business needs in emerging technologies,” EY said.

Project areas EY is employing recruits to work in include artificial intelligence, data analytics, automation, blockchain and cyber.

EY now has 250 people in these teams, with six centres in the US, three in Canada, one in India, one in Poland and one in Spain, with further expansion plans into Europe, South America and Asia Pacific.

The first centre opened in Philadelphia in 2016, spearheaded by Hiren Shukla, who is now leading the initiative globally for EY. Since 2016, NCoE teams have automated over 150 processes and freed up over 2.6 million hours. The firm has also launched its EY Neurodiversity-Powered Transformation offering. Leveraging over 200 technical skills rooted in AI/automation, blockchain, cybersecurity/cloud and data sciences, it works with EY clients to accelerate transformation and enable innovation.

EY said it already adapted its recruitment processes and working environment to support the talents of neurodivergent employees. The NCoE will be a further step in progressing diversity and inclusion for neurodivergent individuals.

The hiring, training, and onboarding process has been customised: shifting from a behaviour-based interview process to a performance-based one; hiring and training is carried out in small groups; and orientations are offered in advance for candidates to familiarise themselves with the workplace before starting their new roles.

Catriona Campbell, EY’s client technology and innovation officer, UK&I, said: “Harnessing the exponential power of neurodiversity will enhance the service we provide to our clients.

“For instance, in the US, we measured the impact on innovation, by comparing the work quality, efficiency, and productivity, generated by neurodivergent and neurotypical professionals. Quality, efficiency and productivity were comparable, but the neurodivergent employees excelled at innovation. The diversity of thought and creativity they brought was a differentiator.”

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