Monday, September 9, 2019

Employers being more flexible about hiring the disabled?

ROUND ROCK, Tex. — When Kate Cosway completed her master’s degree in 2014, her résumé drew plenty of interest, but she rarely advanced far in the hiring process. She was pretty sure she knew why: She is on the autism spectrum and struggles in traditional interviews. 
Her luck finally turned this summer when she landed a 12-week internship at Dell Technologies, which this month will turn into a full-time job working on automation in the company’s audit department. 
A year ago, Ms. Cosway probably wouldn’t have been hired at Dell, either. But last year, the Texas company started a program aimed at hiring people with autism.... 
...With the national unemployment rate now flirting with a 50-year low, companies are increasingly looking outside the traditional labor force for workers. They are offering flexible hours and work-from-home options to attract stay-at-home parents, full-time students and recent retirees. They are making new accommodations to open up jobs to people with disabilities. They are dropping educational requirements, waiving criminal background checks and offering training to prospective workers who lack necessary skills. 
Those policies are having an effect. In recent months, nearly three-quarters of people who have become newly employed have come from outside the labor force — meaning they hadn’t even been looking for jobs. The share of adults who are working is now the highest in more than a decade, after adjustments are made for the aging population....
Readers, have you found employers in the chemical and pharmaceutical space to be more flexible, either around disability or other issues? I personally haven't seen a lot of evidence of that, even as I note the number of industrial employers insisting on postdoctoral fellowships seemingly dropping.

What are you seeing? 

4 comments:

  1. Unemployment is below 4%. Companies are getting more flexible about all sorts of things because they have to be flexible.

    Once the next recession hits, employers won't have to be flexible, and then industry shills will say that it's impossible to find "qualified" people, where "qualified" means "short-listed for a Nobel Prize and willing to start at $40k/year."

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  2. I think companies are only tolerant of the disabled when it comes to physical handicaps. When it comes to autism, the same people who talk a big game about supporting autistic children are pretty intolerant of adult employees who might be on the spectrum. Soft skills are much more valued by companies today than in the past, and socially awkward guys get labeled as potential sexual harassers even if they've never behaved inappropriately toward a coworker.

    I used to work with a woman who I believe was likely autistic. Very nice person, but extremely shy socially. She was a brilliant scientist with an impressive academic background, and is now out of the chemical industry because there's no way someone like her could pass a job interview in 2019. I can think of several other coworkers who are likely on the spectrum but less so than her, and their careers have often been stunted as a result.

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    1. I don't think it's just the interviewing process that hinders such folks. In the business and corporate environment where I worked, you needed to be able to "sell" your project and "tell a story" (why is this important?, how are we going to make money?, why will the customers buy it?, etc.) I don't know if that's right or wrong, but that could definitely be a problem for someone with interaction issues. And I think academics need the same skills, if they want funding.

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  3. I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure a fair number of the scientists and engineers that I work with at an R&D organization are somewhere on the spectrum. High-functioning, but socially awkward. I figured that was pretty much a given in STEM.

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