[Issue 084] World Autism Awareness Day 2019


Happy National Hug a New Person Day! 

Let's pretend Rihanna is me hugging you.

Let's pretend Rihanna is me hugging you.


Who comes up with these "holidays" anyway? An arguably more important one just passed: World Autism Awareness Day (April 2nd).

Did you know:

  • Approximately one in 59 children in the U.S has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

  • 70,000 teenagers with autism enter adulthood each year. (Sidebar: this is worth a listen.)

  • Nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a job.

  • Nearly 70% of adults impacted by autism are either unemployed or underemployed.

Those statistics are disheartening, but some corporations are taking action. 

SAP was apparently one of the first companies to seek out autistic talent. In 2015 JPMorgan Chase launched its own Autism at Work program, focused on hiring individuals with autism in technology roles. Microsoft has established a separate, more inclusive interview process. And last April, Dell launched a program that offers two weeks of training ahead of a 12-week summer internship for adults with autism spectrum disorder.


But during my research, one company in particular stood out as worthy of highlighting: Auticon. They have created what this New York Times profile describes as "an office designed for workers with autism."

Accommodations that would seem unusual at another office seem perfectly reasonable to the employees at Auticon. At the Culver City office, overhead lights bothered one or two colleagues so much that everyone agreed to work without artificial lights, so that often, by the end of the day, they are all working in pitch darkness, rectangles of soft, bright light from their computers illuminating their faces. Absences, in general, are not encouraged, but they are accepted as a cost of doing business with a population that often experiences depression. Managers adjust, within reason, to their employees’ boundaries, rather than the other way around, such as when employees suffering from gastrointestinal problems — a little-understood but common issue for some people on the spectrum — call in to explain, in great detail, why they won’t be coming in that day. 

The article is an incredible read that I highly recommend, and not just because it's an example of a company leading the way on this but because it provides a great example of what it looks like to create a more inclusive culture, PERIODT. 


If you work at an organization that is committed to creating a more inclusive environment for individuals on the spectrum, here are some recommendations from Auticon:

  • Designate a quiet room in the office where workers can escape noise and commotion

  • Dim bright lights; turn off fluorescent lights

  • Reduce or eliminate background music in hallways, bathrooms and communal spaces

  • Allow use of noise canceling headphones

  • Provide healthy food options as many people on the spectrum have dietary restrictions

  • Make participation in company social events optional

  • Lower voices in hallway conversations

Hit reply and let me know if your company has done anything worth sharing to be more inclusive of adults with autism.




Came across this on Instagram this week and just had to share. It's from a climate change rally, but it's applicable to so much more - don't you think?!


Short Changed: Fast Company. This series of articles by fast company focuses on a diverse group of women's’ experiences navigating and handling pay discrimination in their working life, and explores the reasons why pay gaps occur, and where they occur. // FAST COMPANY

Housing Department Slaps Facebook With Discrimination Charge. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is suing Facebook, alleging that the company breaks the Fair Housing Act by allowing housing ads to tailor who can see certain ads. Furthermore, the HUD alleges that Facebook even allowed advertisers to filter through “non-American born”, “non-Christian”, and “interested in Hispanic culture”. // NPR
⟶ Then read this reaction piece: The Trump Administration’s New Facebook Lawsuit Is a Trojan Horse

Inside Ikea’s Plan To Reinvent Itself As a Circular Company. Ikea will be rolling out an option to rent furniture, which Ikea will then resell or eventually recycle once you're done, by next year. The program has been tested in a handful of locations in 30 countries, and the tests have gone well. // FAST COMPANY

Staff At Crowdfunding Giant Kickstarter are Unionizing In a Potential First for Big Tech in the US. Employees at Kickstarter are beginning to unionize, creating Kickstarter United. They are citing commitment to creativity and equity, and the company is backing the union. // BUSINESS INSIDER

Vice Media to Pay $1.875M to Settle Lawsuit Alleging the Company Paid Women Less Than Men. A class action lawsuit against Vice Media, alleging that the company routinely paid their women employees less than their male counterparts had ended with Vice Media paying $1.87M. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Elizabeth Rose, who was a former vice project manager who discovered the discrepancy. // VARIETY

Targets Newest Furniture Is For Kids With Sensory Sensitivity. Target is introducing a collection of kids furniture designed for children with sensory sensitivities, as part of its Pillowfort line. Some of the products include a comfortable desk chair built to rock back and forth, a weighted blanket, a “cocoon” chair that gives the sensation of being held, and even a foam crash pad that a child can ram into, if needed. // FAST COMPANY

Workplace Automation Will Hit Women Harder Than Men. In the United States, 25% of jobs are labeled at “high risk” to be replaced by machines and automation, according to the Brookings Institution. The research also finds that women will likely be hit harder by workplace automation than their male counterparts. While jobs lost by automation can be replaced by re-training workers, it will be important to address the gender gap to prevent it from widening. // QUARTZ

Google Loses Gay-Rights Endorsement Over Controversial Conversion Therapy App. The Human Rights Campaign has withheld its rating and an endorsement with Google after the parent company Alphabet Inc. has not removed a dangerous “conversion therapy” app. The Human Rights campaign has previously rated Alphabet at a perfect 100%. // FORTUNE

50 Women Sue Salesforce, Claiming It Helped Backpage In Sex Trafficking. 50 Anonymous women have sued Salesforce, identifying themselves as victims of sex trafficking that took place on Salesforce’s old and now defunct online classified service, Backpage. The suit claims that Backpage was able to facilitate sex trafficking by using Salesforce's specially tailored enterprise database. // CNBC


This week's headlines were curated by ABL's badass intern, Lora.


I want to be clear, I am not advocating for businesses to consider hiring people with autism as a form of charity. People with autism should have the same opportunity as anyone else to excel and thrive in the right position. Making a more inclusive workplace is not a concession, it is an innovative business opportunity.”

Brian Calley

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Nikita T. Mitchell