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SAP BSCE in Prague Offers New Employment Opportunities to People with Autism


As part of SAP’s determination to empower people with all backgrounds, abilities, and skillsets, SAP’s Business Service Center Europe (BSCE) in Prague launched the “Autism at Work” program in the Czech Republic.

Click here to watch the video!

Part of the Diversity and Inclusion program, “Autism at Work” is geared at enabling people on the autism spectrum to find qualified jobs after a specially designed interview format, which best allows them to reveal their capabilities. Launched this year in the Czech Republic alongside Brazil, the program has been successfully running for nearly two years in SAP offices in Germany, India, Ireland, Canada and the United States, and aspires to reach the same percentage of people with autism among its employees as there are in the general population, which is 1 percent.

SAP BSCE has been working globally with the Danish non-governmental organization Specialisterne and locally in the Czech Republic with the Association to Help People with Autism (APLA) to select suitable candidates. Specialisterne provides the knowledge and methodology, while APLA provides the local specifics such as the pool of candidates and consultancy around legal framework from their department of social rehabilitation.

“SAP is the first multi-national corporation that we have started working with in finding technical talents. I believe that success of the campaign and the innovation it brings about will motivate other large enterprises to follow SAP’s example,” said Henrik Thomsen, COO, Specialisterne.

“For several years, APLA has been offering a wide range of activities aimed at improving the position of people with autism on the labour market. We are extremely pleased that SAP and Specialisterne contacted us with an offer to work together on this project that will undoubtedly help develop practical experience with employment of people with autism spectrum disorders,” said Jana Sirotková, Head of Grants, Education & Advocacy, APLA.

People with autism tend to excel in a multitude of different skillsets that companies find useful – anything from software testing to data analysis. While most SAP offices tend to employ people with autism as software testers and data analysts, SAP BSCE in Prague is a front-runner in the Company by being the first location to implement the “Autism at Work” program for administrative positions.

“A pilot program showed that excellent memory skill, exceptional logical thinking and attention to detail opens almost any position to these people,” said Andrea Hepnerová, managing director, SAP BSCE.

How Were the New Hires Chosen?

Specialisterne organized the first round of recruiting with assistance from APLA and was in the form of an assessment center. The candidates were divided into three groups of four and each group was given a box of LEGO building blocks with detailed instructions how to build a robot that would roll a certain but exact distance.

APLA and Specialisterne selected eight candidates to continue to the next round of recruitment, which consisted of team shadowings and more LEGO activities. This time, the candidates were assigned to build a LEGO robot that would somehow be helpful to elderly people. Some candidates were in charge of building the robot, some programming it, and others presenting their invention through PowerPoint. The result was a robot that would help elderly people pick up garbage to throw away in the bin.

Check out the video of the robot here!

Finally, in early September, the candidates were given the opportunity to shadow their potential teams. Managers gave them typical tasks and had the chance to see which candidates would best fit the roles. By mid-October, seven of the final applicants accepted positions at SAP with five joining HR teams and two joining finance teams. For many, it will be their first full-time job.

“It was a real privilege to have driven the local launch of ‘Autism at Work’. It was so rewarding to spend time with the candidates, feel their motivation and excitement to work for SAP, and see how engaged our SAP teams were when attending the interviews. I hope we will not stop now but make sure to continue attracting the right talent – including those on the autism spectrum,” said Lenka Kaderová, on-site coordinator for the “Autism at Work” program, SAP BSCE Czech Republic.

Successful Results

SAP’s “Autism at Work” program has shown that inclusion of people with autism increased team performance by sparking innovation due to fresh ways of thinking and improved overall communication thanks to the more direct approach of people with autism. Selected SAP employees also work with a professional mentor who helps them to overcome communication barriers and guides them how to approach their new colleagues correctly.

“We want to focus on the unique talents of these people, what they can do better than others, how they can enrich us,” said Stefanie Nennstiel, Global Co-Lead Autism at Work, SAP.

Click here to watch the video!


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