[Title slide: "Accelerating forward with neurodiversity employment iniatives" is displayed in the middle of the screen. The blue CAI logo is below the title in the center.] [Speaker slide: four boxes are shown with one speaker in each box. Anthony Pacilio, CAI Neurodiverse Solutions, is shown in the top left box, Tom D'Eri, Rising Tide Car Wash, is shown in the top right box, Michelle Conklin, JPMorgan, is shown in the bottom left box and Neil Barnett, Microsoft, is shown in the bottom right box.] 00:00:09 - 00:04:51 Anthony Pacilio Welcome, everyone, to today's LinkedIn Live Event, Accelerating Foward with Neurodiversity Employment Initiatives. My name is Anthony Pacilio, Vice President of Neurodiverse Solutions at CAI. A little bit about me. My responsibilities are to help organizations build neurodiversity programs and to lead our global expansion efforts of CAI, Neurodiverse Solutions. My expertise lies in managing neurodiversity recruiting efforts, developing candidate pipelines, and ensuring best practices for onboarding support, training, and organizational success. Before we begin, though, I'd like to take a moment to let you know that we're recording today's session for future viewing. If you have any questions throughout today's discussion, please feel free to add it into the chat. We'll follow up accordingly to these questions after the event. Let's get started. Our discussion today will be about how neurodivergent individuals are helping teams achieve results at every level of business. In today's 30-minute discussion, we're going to discuss how neurodiversity in the workplace has evolved over the past decade. You're going to hear from some individuals who have been doing it for quite a long time. Some of the best practices when implementing neurodiversity employment initiatives. How inclusivity helps to create better company culture, improve productivity, and meet critical resource needs. Lastly, the steps to get started with building a successful neurodiversity employment program. Let's go ahead and introduce our guests, Neil, Michelle, and Tom. I'm going to start with Neil, actually. Since the announcement at World Autism Day in 2015, Neil Barnett has been responsible for the program evolution of the Microsoft Neurodiversity Hiring Program. I've known Neil for a number of years now. He leads the inclusive hiring strategy for people with disabilities across Microsoft. Neil's also responsible for the strategy and performance of Microsoft's Consumer and Enterprise Disability Answer Desk that provides customer support to people with disabilities. He also leads the Coalition of Employers as part of the Neurodiversity at Work Roundtable, which we all are a part of, and a wonderful organization at that. Michelle Conklin, my good friend from JPMorgan Chase is the Head of Receivables for JPMorgan, a $350 million revenue [inaudible 00:02:39] offerings in core cash, lockbox services to corporate and commercial clients, as well as select processing services for the US federal government. [Unintelligible 00:02:53] ensuring the receivables organization has a robust agenda focused on the engagement and well-being of its employees. It's invested in working with community partners to actively recruit and hire individuals who are often marginalized or overlooked. In addition to being the executive sponsor-- that's easy for me to say-- for several initiatives within the firm, Michelle recently joined the board of directors of Skills for Chicago Land's Future which seeks to increase the economic mobility of under and unemployed talent by connecting them with quality jobs. Michelle joined the firm in 2004. With the exception of a couple of years, has spent her entire career at JPMorgan within receivables. She's a graduate of the University of Illinois and resides in the North burbs of Chicago. Lastly, Tom D'Eri has dedicated his career to unleashing human potential by creating organizational systems and culture that empower people to grow. Tom is the co-founder and COO of Rising Tide Car Wash, an organization that employs over 90 individuals with autism in a successful car wash business. Tom is a Forbes 30 under 30-- pretty cool-- social entrepreneur, and is the author of The Power of Potential: How a Nontraditional Workforce Can Lead You to Run Your Business Better. Thank you all for being here with us today. We're going to get started with a discussion. I think, Neil, we're going to kick it off with you. We've been doing this for a while. At least 10 years. How has neurodiversity in the workplace evolved over the past decade? You've been with Microsoft doing this since 2015, but how have you seen the program transform, the evolution of it? [00:04:52] Neil Barnett Hey, thanks, team. Anthony, it's great to be here. I think, since 2015, when Microsoft started, the corporate movement was just starting. SAP and DXC Technologies was the forerunners. Then you saw Microsoft and EY and JPMorgan Chase and Ford start. Ever since 2015, we just seem to continue the momentum of corporate employers looking to think about these neurodiversity at work programs. At the same time, we've seen a tremendous amount of small businesses start programs. Actually, Tom will talk, they've been doing it longer than anybody. From 2012. We learned from a lot of different folks. What's really been interesting to me is just it's not all technology companies. You're seeing pharmaceutical companies, finance companies, manufacturing companies, and all different types of roles. I think the evolution is just more and more people are seeing that this is a great talent play and are really learning and wanting to get started and involved. 00:05:54 - 00:06:00 Anthony Since its inception, Microsoft's program, how many folks have gone through that program? 00:06:01 - 00:06:31 Neil Through the program, and we have a four-day program, we've hired a few hundred full-time employees. I think it's also important for everyone to realize that there are thousands of employees at Microsoft that are neurodivergent. Most employees come through what I call the traditional front door of the career site. Then there's many of these corporations like JPMorgan Chase and Microsoft and Ford and EY have these other front doors where folks come in and it's a more inclusive, multi-day process, but thousands of employees. 00:06:32 - 00:07:09 Anthony As we're talking, Microsoft's obviously a large company and thousands of people. We always talk about them. I'm going to throw this curve ball at you. We talk about disclosure. We know, typically, to the left or right of somebody, there's somebody who's neurodivergent, whether that's dyslexia, dyspraxia or autism, PTSD. I'm sure you do October or April inclusion polls or whatnot. Have you seen that rise over the past 5 to 7 years, 10 years? 00:07:10 - 00:07:51 Neil Absolutely. I think one of the things we've seen by having a program is that more and more employees that are part of the workforce will raise their hand and say, "Hey, I'm neurodivergent. I see that you've got this great training through your program. Can you come to train my manager?" Or, "How do I get those same type of resources, the job coaching resource that we offer through the program? How can I get that?" One of the benefits of the program isn't necessarily the couple of hundred folks that we've hired. It's thinking about the red line. What is the benefits of the entire enterprise that you can pull back across? That's what we're seeing, whether it's disclosure or accommodations or training. It's been a big impact. 00:07:52 - 00:08:32 Anthony You guys have set the blueprint for how it's done. There's multiple models out there of how you can start a neurodiversity at work program, but you guys have done a tremendous job in moving the movement, so to speak. We appreciate that. Thank you so much for that. Tom, I'm going to move to you here. We talked about that you have 90 neurodivergent individuals at Rising Tide Car Wash. How did you come to implement that neurodiversity employment initiative into the structure of a car wash business? 00:08:33 - 00:10:25 Tom We founded Rising Tide with the mission specifically to employ people with autism. My brother has autism. We built the organization to employ him and create a community for Andrew. As we went through that process, we had to build everything around our employees to make them successful. Business simply wouldn't have been successful if we marginalized 80% of our team members or didn't get the best we could out of them. It's built into the fabric of the organization but from a practical, tactical perspective. I think there's really two key ways that we've gone about implementing our processes in a way where they really work well for our team. Frankly, they work better for everyone. That's namely using a prototyping mindset and really designing for our users. Anytime we roll out a new system, a new process, a new tool, we're going to treat that like it's a prototype. That it's not a final product, that it's not finalized until we get it into the hands of our team members. They get to use it, they get to break it, they get to tell us what's wrong with it, and then we iterate it. Eventually, we come to a solution that really works well. Again, harping on including the people who you're designing for in the process of design. That can be anything. That could be a new procedure, that could be a training module, that can be a physical tool that you're giving people, a software. All these things. It's all the same type of process where the people who are going to do the work, who are going to be responsible for using it, they often don't have the voice they need in the process of building things. We deliberately make sure that they're included throughout that entire design process. 00:10:26 - 00:11:11 Anthony I'm going to ask a question to you. I've heard the story a few times about following rules. Neurodivergent individuals typically are really good at that. One of the stories that I heard was that, in a lot of different mechanical organizations, there's processes to follow or people get hurt. What I heard about Rising Tide is that there's rarely ever any deviation from that. Meaning things that go wrong because the individuals that you hire are right on task all the time. Is that a true story? 00:11:12 - 00:12:24 Tom Yes. It plays out in a variety of ways in the organization. Our team members really follow our processes very closely. I think many of them rely on those processes to navigate the workplace, which makes their alignment with them much tighter than a typical employee. I also think that the engagement is higher in general with our team members. They're more excited to be at work. They value the jobs more. They want to do a good job more than your average car wash employee. As far as how it plays out in a daily basis, we've been operating, like you said, Anthony, for about 10 years. We've never had a single workers' comp claim with a neurodivergent team member. That's really market because, in our industry, it's quite rare for a small carwash organization that can't pull risk across a bunch of locations to even be able to maintain workers' comp insurance, let alone be able to not have any claims on it. Typically, you have to do a professional employment organization to get that type of insurance so they can pull the risk for you. We've never had that issue. Knock on wood, we won't have the issue going forward. 00:12:25 - 00:13:07 Anthony Wow. That's incredible. I know folks that are watching and/or listening, that last particular statement is impactful for certain. Going to move over to Michelle a little bit. I want to talk to you about community partners that you work with and you actively recruit. You know hiring neurodivergent individuals in the untapped talent pool. We say it all the time. What are some of the best practices that you've helped put in place to ensure the success of diverse teams? I know, Michelle, that you have incredibly diverse teams. 00:13:08 - 00:16:05 Michelle Yes, thanks Anthony. If I think about what has made us successful in some of the best practices, first and foremost, regardless of where we recruit talent from, either community organizations or right off the street, our number one goal is to make sure that the skillset matches the demand. We're not a charity organization. We are here to make sure that the talent that we bring on is going to be effective, they're going to be efficient, and they're going to be dedicated. As Tom was saying, what we've really quickly learned is that the neurodivergent population tends to match the criteria flawlessly. They're always at work. They do not call off. They have impeccable attention to detail. They're super focused. They're happy to be there. They're not distracted by things. All they're focused on is the task at hand. We've really tapped into that particular skill set because it really, really works well for us. As we started to go down this journey the first step that we took was to ensure that our existing population at that point, was 2,500 or so employees, had all the same level playing field. We worked with an amazing partner, an amazing vendor to help create a training program that allowed us to really educate our entire population. What it means to be neurodiverse, and specifically some of the characteristics and some of the things to understand of somebody that's on the spectrum. That training, we did, again, across all of our locations, all of our employees, so that we have the right base to start with. Then we started to really be methodical about how we onboard individuals that are neurodivergent. We followed what we call a universal design. It's something that it's exactly what it means. It's universal. What we, again, very quickly came to realize is that simplicity works and it works for everybody. Overcomplicating and complications don't work for anybody. When you create processes and when you create training material, when you create onboarding, that works for everybody, specifically the neurodivergent population, you're setting yourself up for success for your entire organization. We also partner our individuals that we onboard with work buddies. We have work coaches for them. We also understand that starting something new can be a little bit disheveling. We want to make sure that not only when we onboard somebody, it's a good experience, but the initial duration of their onboarding experience, they really feel that support. Then lastly one of the things that we've done really well is we ensure that prior to even initiating the entire recruiting processes, interviewing, and going through onboarding, that we take the employees or the potential employees and walk them onto our production floors, so that they can understand exactly what they're going to be getting themselves into. The day that they get onto the floor, it's not super alarming and it's not really an experience that starts them off on the wrong footing. I think with those combinations of making sure that the initial experience is set up the right way, I think has really worked tremendously for us. 00:16:06 - 00:17:08 Anthony Yes. I think what you're doing is you're reducing the anxiety level at all of those touch points. Not only for the individual who's coming in to potentially work for the first time or switching jobs or doing something a little bit different. You're also reducing anxiety for the individuals that are working side by side. Sometimes it's the factor of the unknown. Once it builds together and you work for a little bit of time-- and this leads me into my next question-- you're going to see a shift. Let's talk about that shift. We worked together for a time. I watched your specific area grow exponentially, but in a measured way. I'm not going to ask if there was a culture shift because I know that there was. What was the impact, not only on the department and the people that work in it, but on you as well? 00:17:09 - 00:19:52 Michelle That's a great question. First to level set, if you look at the organization that I support, it's already highly diverse. 72% of our workforce is female. 73% is ethnically diverse. To start, right, we had an amazing base. That is a huge selling factor, and it's a huge part of our culture. That is who we are. It's part of our DNA. It's not something that we say we focus on because it is who we are. When we started to think about what else can we do differently to continue to increase diversity, again, it was not about ethnicity. It was not about culture. It was really about the diverse thought. My group was one of the pioneers to start working with the Second Chance Initiative. Onboarding individuals who've had previous criminal situations in their past, strong military hiring, strong focus on recruiting junior talent from economically depressed areas. It's like those are the types of things that we started to go down. When this opportunity presented itself, we recognize that, again, it was a niche population. We had a need. This niche population met our need. What I didn't necessarily recognize and appreciate in the very beginning is that, a], how good this would be for business because again, of the characteristics that the neurodivergent population has, putting that to the side. Personally, what I think really resonated with me after a very short period of time is, if you think about your entire ecosystem of people that you're surrounded with, there's not a single person in this world that is not somehow some way impacted or associated with somebody who's neurodivergent. Whether it's you personally, whether it's a child, whether it's a cousin, a parent, a friend, whoever it is. That's just the reality of the society that we live in. When we started to onboard these individuals, colleagues into this environment, we're able to see this light bulb go off in our employees' heads that this is our world. This is the environment. We are a microcosm of what is outside the confines of JPMorgan Chase. When our employees started to see individuals that they see outside of work in work, it created this level of trust and brand loyalty and recognition and respect for the organization at large. I will tell you, the managers in my organization that have embraced this concept and embraced this initiative, I have the utmost respect for them. We get calls from employees' parents to the managers directly telling them the level of self-confidence that their children have gained as a result of this gainful employment. The fact that they feel valuable, the fact that they have a mission and purpose in life, that's not just a cultural impact. That's a humanistic impact. To me, that is the best part of my job. Being able to have these types of relationships and this type of impact on people. 00:19:53 - 00:21:12 Anthony Yes. I think we talk about empathy, we talk about the power of harnessing people who think differently, have different business solutions, problem-solving skill sets. I think that all lends into we just need to be human, right? We need to have that feeling. We need to ask if something is wrong. Everybody wants to feel that they're a part of something. I think what you've created, especially in your area that's permeated JPMorgan, is that you've proved the humanistic side. I can only say thank you for that. It's obviously a feather in your cap, but it's also creating that network of building something a little bit more powerful. Speaking of powerful, Neil, we've been part of the Neurodiversity Work Roundtable almost since its inception. What are we doing now that makes it an even stronger network, but more importantly, the impact on neuro divergent individuals? 00:21:13 - 00:22:31 Neil Just for context, the roundtable started in 2017, '18. There are about six companies that started. We have over 50 companies that are part of the roundtable today. Again, across all dimensions, small business, large business, different industries. The goal, really, is twofold, Anthony. One is to have this conversation with other employers to get them started on this journey, right? Exponentially, we can make a lot more impact together than just as individual companies. The other is, what can we do for the community? I think one of the things that I'm proud about is how these employees have come together. A great example is we came together and we built the neurodiversity career connector. Where the goal was to make it easier for job seekers to find who are all these employers on this call, plus dozens and dozens of more that you may not have heard about and go to one spot. We're working together as a group to create content and material for the community and for employers. There's a lot that we're doing to try to keep this conversation going and harness the power of all these great employers to think through the lens of how do we help the job seeker, and then how do we help the employers to ensure that once hired, that everyone's set up for success. 00:22:32 - 00:23:27 Anthony Got you. I think as we bring in small businesses, large businesses, service providers in there, I think it'll only continue to grow. I know that we're doing what we need to do in this space. You and some other folks are really pushing the needle to make sure that it's inclusive to more companies. I think more as the word gets out, it'll be even more successful. Speaking of successful-- got a lot of good segues today. I'm going to go to town for the next question. First, congratulations on the book, The Power of Potential. It's a truly inspiring work that gives perspective about how managing a neurodiverse workforce can change and solve simple or unique business challenges, as we found out. How did the book really come to be, though? 00:23:28 - 00:25:18 Tom Yes. Like I said earlier, the goal of our organization, the reason we exist is to try to provide jobs for autistic people and autistic talent. We can do so much of that with our own stores, with direct employment. We certainly want to continue to grow the car washes. At the end of the day, for us to have the type of impact we want, we have to be able to share what we've learned. Over the course of building this organization, and similarly, you've heard similar things from Michelle and Neil, is that what we learned by working with this talent pool is that we're not solving autism problems. We're solving business problems. By looking through the lens of neurodivergent talent, we're able to better solve those business problems. We're able to build more clear, more objective, more streamlined systems, easier-to-operate systems that help organizations scale, that help them access better talent, that help them differentiate their brands. We felt that those were all messages that really the small, medium-sized business community ought to hear. Those are the organizations that struggle the most with finding great talent. They may not be the market leader, have the big brand that everyone is already going to try to go to because it's a prestigious organization. They may not be able to differentiate themselves so well with customers either for the same reasons. This is a potentially really powerful approach to doing that, to solving internal organizational problems. Also having a story, like Michelle was saying, that resonates with pretty much everybody at this point. That was really why we wrote the book. I think there's some good messages in there. Anybody listening, if you want to pick it up, it's available on Amazon. 00:25:19 - 00:25:21 Anthony I was just going to plug that for you as well. 00:25:22 - 00:25:23 Tom I beat you to it. [laughs] 00:25:24 - 00:25:48 Anthony You did, indeed. It's a great book. I encourage people to pick it up. We only have a few minutes left. This has obviously flown by. Any final thoughts to share with our audience from today's discussion or tips on how to get started with neurodiversity employment initiatives? I'm just going to go right down the line here. I'm going to start with Neil real quick. 00:25:49 - 00:26:17 Neil Yes. I think for any employers out there that are thinking about this, I would say, there's a whole ecosystem out there of partners to help you. You don't have to know it all yourself. It's a journey. You really just to get started. Over the last decade, there's a lot of talented groups out there like CAI and others that can really help. Then there's the employers like ourselves that we're more than willing to spend time with you, Michelle, Tom, myself, and many, many others. Just drop us a line and we'll help. 00:26:18 - 00:26:22 Anthony Yes, I appreciate that. Michelle, any parting thoughts? 00:26:23 - 00:26:38 Michelle A lot of what Neil had to say. There's a tremendous amount of opportunity. It's untapped talent. You just have to be methodical about how you do this. Take the risk because the risk is totally worth it. Lean in on others that have already proven that this is super successful. 00:26:39 - 00:26:40 Anthony Lastly, Tom. 00:26:41 - 00:27:37 Tom Just to build on those things, if you are an employer that's looking to do these things, a really nice entry point, specifically from an ROI perspective, is to think about where are the roles that you're really experiencing a lot of turnover in that you're really having trouble finding great people in? Key in on those roles and start there. I see it in the chat a little bit and you get this question all the time, where are neurodivergent? What roles? What skills are neurodivergent people going to be best at? I think the longer that you do this, you realize that there's a group of neurodivergent people that are going to be exceptional at any role. There's really no typecast, I don't think. I think it's such a wide group of people that there's not any specific type of role. Look where your organization needs it the most. That's where you go and you start. Like Neil said, CAI, many other organizations, employers like us are willing to help on that journey. 00:27:38 - 00:29:46 Anthony I think one of the other pieces of this is, for organizations large and small, that you need to potentially start small. We're not asking you to go in and build a whole division of 30 people. Maybe it's just the pilot and you go through the stages of it. Obviously, CAI neurodiverse solutions can help you do that. What everyone has heard here today from Tom, Michelle, and Neil, is that it's successful. You just need some of that support that's built-in. I think at CAI, we know the essential component of any neurodiversity program is the framework of that support. We think of it as a success infrastructure. We key on three steps to build that successful neurodiversity employment program that include building that business case, finding amazing neurodiverse talent, and creating a neurodiverse-friendly workspace. I think putting that all together ensures that we can create long-term rewarding, and those meaningful careers. Today has gone by so quickly. Our time is unfortunately over. It's been an absolute pleasure chatting with you, Neil, Michelle, and Tom. Obviously, great conversation. [Closing slide: four boxes are shown with one speaker in each box. Anthony Pacilio is shown in the top left box, Tom D'Eri is shown in the top right box, Michelle Conklin is shown in the bottom left box and Neil Barnett is shown in the bottom right box. At the bottom left hand corner shows "learn more at www.cai.io"] I'd love to thank all the audience members for your attention and participation. Later, we'll actually be sending everyone that attended a recording of the event plus an article on three key steps to building a successful neurodiversity employment program. In the meantime, though, if you're interested in learning more about CAI neurodiverse solutions or know someone that is, please visit our website at www.cai.io and fill out our contact form. Or you can even contact one of our team members via LinkedIn. I'd like to thank everybody. I hope you all have a great rest of your day. We'll talk to you soon. 00:29:47 - 00:29:48 Michelle Thank you. 00:29:48 - 00:29:55 Anthony Thanks all. [music] [00:29:55] [END OF AUDIO]


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