Recently, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Neil Barnett, Director of Inclusive Hiring at Microsoft, and Marian Merritt, Lead for Industry Engagement at the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education about cybersecurity and autism. We chat about why Microsoft decided to hire people on the autism spectrum, which skills make autistic people ideal for certain jobs in IT or cybersecurity, and why the U.S. federal government has taken such an active interest in neurodiversity.
During this Diverse IT podcast, Neil talks about Microsoft’s Autism Hiring Program, which he helped launch in 2015, and involves a non-traditional interview process for autistic job candidates. Microsoft’s mission is to broaden the neurodiversity of its workforce, and besides employing qualified candidates, they also have mentors, support systems, and special training for managers and colleagues.
“An estimated 80 percent of people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are unemployed, though many are fully capable of holding down a job.”
Check out this blog post about Joey Chemis, a data scientist at Microsoft Worldwide Operations who joined Microsoft through the Autism Hiring Program.
Listen to the Podcast here on ITSP Radio
Neil Barnett, Director of Inclusive Hiring at Microsoft, and Marian Merritt, Lead for Industry Engagement at the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, chat with ITSPmagazine’s Selena Templeton for the Diverse IT podcast about cybersecurity and autism. Tune in to hear about Microsoft’s Autism Hiring Program and their inclusive, non-traditional interview process for autistic job candidates, which skills make autistic people ideal for certain jobs in IT or cybersecurity, and what to expect in the October 18th NICE webinar on cybersecurity and autism.
The Cybersecurity & Autism Webinar
Marian Merritt will be hosting a NICE webinar on Cybersecurity and Autism on October 18, 2017 at 11 a.m. PST/2 p.m. EST. Be sure to tune in because they will be taking questions from viewers. If you can’t watch it live, don’t worry – the recording will be available to watch after the event.
The webinar guests and host bring four diverse points of view to this topic:
Marian Merritt from NICE is the host and has 18 years of experience working in the cybersecurity industry, including creating a cybersecurity career program for underserved young adults at Symantec Corporation.
Neil Barnett from Microsoft who helped launch the Autism Hiring Program.
Jennifer Sheehy from the US DOL office of disability employment.
Kevin Pelphrey who is a professor/researcher at GWU, a parent of an autistic child, and who wrote this article that started this webinar effort.
If you’re not in cybersecurity, don’t feel excluded (we’re all about diversity and inclusion here!) – the webinar will also be interesting for folks who are not in the cyber world. If you’re autistic or on the autism spectrum, if you are a parent with a child with a disability, if you’re a teacher or professor who has neurodiverse students – this webinar will be very informative for everyone.
It’s no coincidence that the NICE webinar is being held in October – because October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and educate both the public and private sector via events, tools and resources so we can all stay safe in this digital world.
Also in October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), another great campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.
And although it’s six months away, I also want to mention that April is National Autism Awareness Month, which promotes autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all, and assures that each person with ASD is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life.
And April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, when autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events.
Be sure to click on any of the links above for more info and resources.
Plus, check out additional ITSPmagazine articles on neurodiversity below.
More ITSPmagazine Articles and Podcasts on Neurodiversity
Michael Fieldhouse & Marian Merritt Discuss Cybersecurity and Autism with Selena Templeton: A Huge Untapped Resource
Michael Fieldhouse, Director for Emerging Businesses and Cybersecurity at DXC Technology, and Marian Merritt, Lead for Industry Engagement at the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), chat with ITSPmagazine’s Selena Templeton for the Diverse IT podcast about hiring people with autism in the IT/cybersecurity workforce. Tune in to hear about Michael's work at DXC Technology and the Australian government on hiring a huge untapped resource – neurodiverse individuals – the three main areas that autistic people are particularly suited for and the skills that they bring to the job, why the U.S. federal government cares about this subject, and the upcoming NICE webinar on Cybersecurity and Autism.