In August, TrackTik’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) committee launched a survey to understand what diversity looks like in our company, and how our colleagues wanted to enhance their education on this topic. The results revealed that 14.8% of respondents identified as neurodiverse*, among other interesting facts.
In an effort to stay true to our mission — to enhance our education on and be transparent about diversity and inclusion — the D&I Committee organized a virtual Lunch & Learn on October 28 taking a deep dive into autism. We had the pleasure of welcoming Alain Bessette and Jennifer Fehr, experts from auticon, a world leader in IT employment of autistic individuals, and of having the conversation facilitated by two TrackTikers, Karina Huertas, Business Development Executive, and Philippe Patrice, VP Technology, who respectively have one and two wonderful children on the autism spectrum.
What did we learn?
63 keen attendees showed up with their lunches to learn more about autism, and participate in the conversation with thought-provoking inputs from their own lives. Did you know that autism is not a disability or a mental health problem, but simply a different operating system? Or that autistic individuals have ideal skills and strengths for working in IT, such as pattern recognition, error detection, precision, sustained attention and a fast pace of work? Are you aware that when teams work with someone on the spectrum, they become closer because they learn how to better be able to integrate team members?
We also learned that there are still considerable hurdles and myths to overcome. For instance, the perception that people on the spectrum are all the same — that’s not the case, as one of the auticon experts put it: “If you met one person on the spectrum, you met one person: autistic people are all different. Most autistic individuals are capable of feeling and expressing emotions, they are as empathetic as the average person if not more, and they can have solid relationships with family members, friends and colleagues.”
Employment opportunities are also an issue — 77% of individuals on the spectrum would like to work but are unemployed, and 48% of them have experienced bullying, discrimination, or harassment while employed. They can succeed, but only if they are supported by people who believe in their potential.
How will we be better at TrackTik?
The Lunch & Learn opened all of the attending TrackTikers’ eyes, teaching us to be more aware, compassionate and understanding. We are convinced that these new insights will be conducive to cultivating a better workplace for our colleagues who are neurodiverse or who are parents of neurodiverse children.
Given our enhanced awareness on the matter, the TrackTik team has partnered up with auticon to recruit top IT talent. In parallel, we also keep sensitizing TrackTikers about autism-specific challenges by sharing targeted articles and encouraging candidates and employees alike to talk about what makes them unique and what adjustments to our environment would increase their comfort bringing their whole self to work.
We look forward to continuing to make TrackTik a workplace characterised by diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity.
*The idea behind neurodiversity is that conditions such as autism should be seen not as disabilities, but as perfectly normal neurological differences between people” (HBR). Neurodiversity generally encompasses people with one of the following: autism, dyslexia, OCD, ODD, ADD, ADHD, sensory integration differences, Tourette’s and gifted individuals.