The Dandelion Program, started at DXC.Technology Australia in 2014, aims to integrate people with autism into DXC’s workforce. DXC partnered with Specialisterne, a Danish company dedicated to incorporating people with autism into the workforce and capitalizing on their inherent skills.
People with autism have long been overlooked in the workplace. Over 80% of people with autism are unemployed or under-employed. About 1% of the world has autism, and in the United States, it is roughly one in 68 people. Nearly half of those diagnosed with autism have above-average intelligence. For some people with autism, they possess skills such as excellent visual perception and the ability to remain highly focused in certain situations, which make them excellent candidates for certain businesses and contracts.
The Dandelion Program hopes to reach that large population of potential employees and harness their skills, while providing a holistic employment experience that prepares them for future careers within the technology field. The Program is designed to provide high levels of support to the employees, both from a technical and autism perspective and ensure that they are able to learn and grow as employees and as individuals.
The Dandelion Program is not just about recruiting people with autism. The Program is reworking the organisational fabric of DXC to accept and integrate these individuals and also prepare them for the workplace and for a career at DXC. By successfully integrating people with autism into DXC, DXC can achieve the competitive advantage found in a neurodiverse workforce.
The Dandelion program is also part of a research program being undertaken with the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University.
“Charting the impact of employment on people on the autism spectrum within this unique program, as well as their families and coworkers, will be important in convincing other employers to offer similar opportunities to those with autism.”
Professor Cheryl Dissanayake, who is overseeing the research program.
A defining feature of the Dandelion Program is the ‘pod’ structure used to manage Dandelion teams on client sites. Having this support structure in place allows for efficient management of the autism related needs of the Dandelion team members. Below is an example model that has been tailored for a team in a testing role.
Scale and Growth
Since the program launched in 2015, Dandelion pods are now present on three client sites in three states across Australia, performing work in areas such as testing, analytics, IT operations, and cyber security.
This year, the pilot ‘Dandelion work experience program’ was run at DXC.Technology in Adelaide, South Australia. You can read more about this exciting new program here.