#UniqueandUnited: Celebrating our Neurodiverse Talent on World Autism Awareness Day

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At P&G, we are proud to be Unique and United. We believe in the power of our differences and the huge impact we can make when we come together united by shared values and purpose. This belief underpins our Neurodiversity Program — a recruitment initiative that originated in the U.K. and seeks to enable the recruitment of neurodiverse individuals into a number of functions within our company.

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day — an internationally recognized day which aims to raise awareness of Autistic spectrum disorders, including Autism and Asperger Syndrome, around the world. One of only seven official, health-specific days marked by the United Nations, the day seeks to bring people together to aid areas including research, diagnoses, treatment, and acceptance for those with a developmental path affected by Autism.

It therefore seems fitting that today, we reflect on everything that we have learned and achieved since our Neurodiversity Program started four years ago.

Dr. Emma O’Leary, a Director working in Research & Development (R&D) at our site in Reading, UK, started P&G’s journey towards neurodiverse inclusive talent practices because of her personal experiences. Her son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of six, and Emma quickly identified a huge opportunity for businesses to benefit from the unique problem-solving methods that these candidates have to offer. She realized that this new approach not only serves to benefit neurodiverse individuals – for whom starting out in their careers can be challenging — but that it can benefit businesses by helping to drive innovation and a new way of thinking.

Shortly after this, leaders in P&G Global Business Services (GBS) recognized the benefit too. The team launched a program in Costa Rica that has since expanded to three more countries around the world in GBS, Product Supply (PS) and Corporate IT — Poland, Singapore, and the U.S. As a company, we recognize that great minds do not think alike — and our approach to recruiting neurodiverse individuals has this belief at its very core.

Dr. Emma O’Leary, P&G’s R&D Director for Northern Europe reflected on the early beginnings of the program. “When I first launched the Neurodiversity Program in 2017, I had no idea that four years later I’d be able to say that I’d launched a truly global initiative,” O’Leary said. “But I’m so proud that I have. Neurodiverse individuals have so much to offer companies of all shapes and sizes, in all locations around the world. After all, we celebrate the different personality traits and skillsets of neurotypical individuals, so why not extend that to include neurodiverse individuals?”

“I hope that by continuing our work in this area – learning from, adapting, and evolving our existing programs, whilst expanding to include new markets by developing tailored solutions – we will be one step closer to a more equal world,” O’Leary said. “One within which every individual is able to achieve their full potential.”

To date, we have hired neurodiverse individuals to work within neurotypical teams, in addition to building dedicated neurodiverse teams, led by a neurotypical manager, to solve specific business challenges. By adopting this approach, we believe we are truly celebrating everything that makes these individuals Unique and United, creating a culture within which everyone feels able to be their authentic selves.

As we continue to expand the program around the world, we remain focused on recognizing the numerous strengths that neurodiverse individuals have to offer P&G. For example, our neurodiversity hiring program in Warsaw, Poland, has enabled recruits to leverage their unique skills by working within both the European Planning Service Center and GBS organization.

Esra Yavuz, Vice President, Leader of the Global Data Management & CE Technology Hub is the sponsor of the neurodiversity hiring program in Central Europe. “This chapter of our equality & inclusion journey in CE begun almost two years ago, when we started exploring the untapped potential of neurodiverse talent and the value they bring to our business,” Yavuz said. “It was a learning process for all parties involved, and it quickly became clear that we need to continue to nurture our culture of inclusion, making sure neurodiversity is both understood and celebrated.”

Another individual who holds the Neurodiversity Program close to their heart is Laura Becker, President, Global Business Services at P&G and Executive Sponsor for Neurodiversity. “World Autism Awareness Day serves as an all-important opportunity to celebrate everything that neurodiverse individuals have to offer the world,” Becker said. “When I first started looking at career options for my son, who was diagnosed with Autism in his teenage years, I worried that despite his academic excellence, he’d struggle to find opportunities that matched his talents.”

After researching external opportunities in this space with leading IT providers, Becker said she was hugely excited about the opportunities this offered to P&G as a company.

“Our Neurodiversity Program is so much more than a solution to inclusion— it’s a business strategy that is a win for the company, the community, and neurodiverse individuals,” Becker said. “It is enabling us to accelerate our progress towards an employee base that is more reflective of our global population, and I hope that other companies and locations will take note. This work will be more effective if we do it all together; and that is the very essence of being Unique and United.”

At P&G, we view our Neurodiversity Program as a win:win:win — proving positive for neurodiverse talent by supporting their careers; positive for P&G by strengthening our pipeline of talent; and positive for the wider communities within which we operate. We are incredibly proud of the progress we have made over the last four years and look forward to continuing this truly important work around the world in the years to come.

To learn more about P&G’s commitment to inclusion including neurodiversity, visit https://us.pg.com/people-with-disabilities/

With help from the National Autistic Society, the leader of P&G’s neurodiversity initiative Emma O’Leary has helped the company unlock a world of previously untapped creativity. Listen to Emma O’Leary’s story from our Powered by Purpose Podcast.