With more focus on cyber security, employers look to access untapped neurodiverse skills

In cyber security the challenges of finding people in wake of the Optus and Medibank data breaches are significantly heightened.

With a focus on bolstering their defenses, employers are exploring new options and seeing significant value in breaking down barriers to employment for neurodiverse individuals. Due to rigid employment practices in many organisations skilled neurodivergent individuals are often inadvertently excluded from employment. This has often been the case for many of auticon’s consultants.

Managers that are prepared to understand how to work effectively with neurodivergent individuals have a significant opportunity to benefit from skills not on offer to other employers.

Matthew is an autistic consultant working at auticon, he has a Bachelor of Business, Finance and Economics and a Diploma of Information Technology after leaving university in 2018 he spent four years as a Data Entry Operator before joining auticon.

“Coming out of university and competing for graduate positions was really hard. There were thousands of people with more experience than me,” said Mathew.

“In applying for roles, I never opened up about my autism, as I was aware of the stigma and stereotypes that exist, and I just didn’t want to be treated differently or for people to have misconceptions.”

When asked about some of the barriers to employment Matthew went on to say, “Corporations need to be more open to people on the spectrum and not try to put us all in the same simple box,” he said.

Matthew is currently consulting to Vicinity Centres and successfully engaged in the organisation’s Cyber Defence Team. David Wang who heads up Cyber Defence at Vicinity Centres is pleased with Matthew’s work and how this has opened up new opportunities for the organisation.

“At the time of bringing Matthew on board, cyber security was the talk of the nation due to some large-scale security breaches of public interest.

Many organisations are placing an increased focus on cyber security, and looking for people with the right skills to help protect their business and their employees”

“Initially, auticon was a suggestion that came to me via our HR department, this prompted me to do my own research into inclusive employment and autism.”

“I discovered research done by Scotland Yard in the UK that spoke about the connection between hacking and the meticulous focus and attention to detail of those on the spectrum.”

“Sometimes cyber security is about looking for a needle in a haystack. Finding that way into a system that no one has thought about, and this is something that takes real focus. The more research that I did, the more I found that organisations were employing people with autism for these types of strengths and unique abilities,” he said.

“At Vicinity, we embrace difference and value the unique skillsets and perspectives that a diverse team can bring, and Matthew is testament to that.

“Since bringing Matthew on, I’ve noticed that he can take on tasks that are quite repetitive and can maintain a high level of focus, he doesn’t become bored or distracted. This has been a big help in threat detection and mitigation. I’ve been so pleased with the way that the engagement has gone and the work that Matthew has done that I’ve since connected auticon with other departments in Vicinity.”

auticon’s Director of Social Impact Ivonne Ranisch talks to corporations across Australia about the need to change the perception of autism in the workplace and the real opportunities on offer for business.

“People on the spectrum think differently. This means they will not interview in the same way; they will not necessarily say the things that businesses want to hear and they may not behave in a typical manner,” she said.

“Employing people on the spectrum means that you need to rethink your hiring processes and be prepared to step away from any preconceived view of the ‘ideal candidate’. As the ‘ideal candidate’ for most corporates is formed around the notion of someone that isn’t on the spectrum.”

“If corporations can do this, the reward is not only unlocking an increased talent pool of STEM skilled workers but it is also accessing people that think differently and can offer new and sometimes far better ideas than are typically on offer.”

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