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JPMorgan Chase Autism at Work Program Addresses IT Talent Shortage

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Image: Brain light - Alamy Stock Photo
How do you address a persistent tech talent shortage, change corporate culture, and boost the enterprise's bottom line? One way is by changing the hiring process and broadening the candidate pool.
 
JPMorgan Chase launched the Autism at Work pilot program in 2015 with four software testers who were on the spectrum; the pilot was conceived as a way to address a shortage of IT talent. While the financial services firm Autism at Work jobs had initially focused on technology, seven years later, the program has expanded from the initial IT jobs to encompass more than 40 different job roles in nine countries (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, England, India, Ireland, the Philippines, Scotland, and the U.S.).
 
No Jitter interviewed Nyamusi Lee, Global Lead of Autism at Work, JPMorgan Chase, who shared how to identify and creatively work with the different user requirements on collaborative platforms and what should be on any IT checklist when launching a similar program.
 
For neurodiverse employees, what are the most frequent challenges in a collaborative platform?
It varies, but one of the common denominators we find has to do with the work environment. If it’s too noisy, that can be distracting—and that can be assuaged by fitting the person with a set of noise-canceling headphones as an accommodation. We do training with managers and teams when a new recruit is joining them to make them aware of some of the challenges these employees might face; that helps to prepare not only the individual but also their team and their manager to best work in a collaborative environment.
 
What should be on the checklist for creating programs to recruit autistic employees and provide them with the required support during their employment?
[Our] firm has a global employee accessibility team whose mission is to ensure that all applications and tools are accessible to all users, including persons with disabilities. They ensure that all internally developed applications meet JP Morgan Chase accessibility requirements.
 
Having an effective delivery mechanism for accommodation is essential. We have a team called MyAccessibility Hub to assess an employee’s needs and deliver the most suitable accommodations so they can perform their work.
 
How has the program changed in response to the rise in hybrid work post-2020?
Everyone has had to endure, manage, and work through the ebb and flow of return to the office, with either a hybrid model, fully remote, or a five-day workweek at the office. We continue to take proactive steps to partner closely with our internal stakeholders to ensure our firm’s accommodation team provides the right support that our autistic colleagues need to flourish.

Keep an eye out this week for our WorkSpace Connect piece, JPMorgan Chase Best Practices: Broaden the Candidate Pool, for more on how JP Morgan Chase's program works, how they've set up candidate hiring pipelines, and what advice the company would give to anyone else setting up a similar program.

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