Social enterprise businesses like auticon cannot get off the ground without amazing investors who believe in our mission and our people. One of those investors is Sir Richard Branson and The Virgin Group who first invested in auticon in October of 2016. Virgin repeatedly invests in companies like auticon because of their own values.
Sir Richard is truly at the forefront of radical acceptance and inclusion in the workplace. In another interview with auticon he stated matter of factly, “all businesses must have a culture of acceptance”. He believes that companies should reflect the real world and cites that “1 in 8 people are gay, therefore a company should have roughly 1 in 8 people who are gay working for them. 50% of people are women, and therefore a company should have roughly 50% women 50% men working for them.” He sees no reason why this shouldn’t be the same for all demographics like dyslexia, autism, and physical disabilities and that is why he is investing in companies like ours, to help make this a reality in the workplace.
Sir Richard and Holly, his daughter, have been extremely vocal in their admiration and appreciation for auticon’s mission. Holly recently published a blog piece (link) about our global impact report (link) that garnered immense attention. As a small company, we heavily rely on candid press like this to get the word out to both client and candidate to continue our growth. It is largely in part of the Branson family and Virgin Group’s ongoing support that we have been able to expand as rapidly and successfully as we have and been able to open this office in Ohio and continue offering more careers for people on the autism spectrum. We are excited to be entering into Columbus to expand our services to help more people become employed and more companies have top quality work!
Sir Richard Branson spoke about why he’s invested in this growing social enterprise supporting jobs for autistic people. Richard was accompanied by Lisa Thomas, Chief Brand Officer for the Virgin Group and thought leader on inclusive business. Lisa discussed why Virgin is looking to change business for good.
Sir Richard Branson: Businesses like auticon are true trailblazers because they challenge and encourage us to view conditions like autism and dyslexia differently, not as disabilities, but as talents and assets.
My dyslexia has given me a massive advantage in life. It has helped me to think creatively and laterally, and to simplify things, which has been a huge asset when building our Virgin businesses.
Lisa Thomas: It’s quite simple – inclusive, diverse policies are better for business and better for society. In terms of the Virgin brand, building a more inclusive and diverse business gives us a greater ability to retain talent, to innovate, and to build customer loyalty and brand strength.
Sir Richard Branson: I think it goes without saying that every company, from start-ups to large multinationals, should view neurodiversity, as in fact any other form of diversity, as a great driver of innovation and, ultimately, success.
Lisa Thomas: At present, there is a global skills shortage in STEM fields impacting business innovation, this coupled with high unemployment of autistic people creates a missed opportunity.
This is demonstrated by the over representation of people on the spectrum in STEM fields of study, pointing to the need for organizations to be more inclusive in their employment practices and explore the possibilities that organizations like auticon present in bridging the skills gap.