Professional giving a presentation to an audience

 

Auto Trader becomes first business to achieve National Autistic Society's Autism Friendly Employer Award

  • Around 100 people from various businesses attended a special event (‘Becoming Autism Friendly’) to mark this achievement and hear how they could make their workplace more autism friendly
  • New YouGov poll of 601 businesses suggests:
    o Employers’ attitudes towards autistic people are slowly improving
    o But 5 in 10 (51%) are not very or not at all confident they would be able to employ autistic people effectively
    o And two thirds (68%) worry about getting the support they give to an autistic employee wrong, and say they don’t know where to go for advice and support (64%)
  • If you’re an employer and interested in finding out more about the Autism Friendly Employer Award or registering your interest, please email: autism.friendly@nas.org.uk

Around 100 people from various businesses gathered at Auto Trader’s office in Manchester on 3 April, during World Autism Awareness Week, to hear how they could make their workplaces more autism friendly. The event, organised in conjunction with Inclusive Companies, celebrated Auto Trader becoming the first company in the world to achieve our Autism Friendly Employer Award.

The attendees heard from autistic adults about their positive and negative experiences of trying to find - and being in – work, as well as the strengths autistic employees can bring to the workplace. Representatives from Auto Trader and our charity also talked about the many and simple adjustments businesses can make to their recruitment process and workplace. We plan to roll out the award more widely later this year. You can register your interest in the award by emailing: autism.friendly@nas.org.uk 

Autism Employment Gap

Despite these positive steps, it is estimated that just 16% of autistic people are in full-time employment. Our research suggests that this is in part due to lingering misconceptions around what autism is and the strengths that many autistic people can bring to the workplace, as well as companies not knowing where to go for advice about supporting autistic employees and being worried about getting it wrong.

A new YouGov poll of 601 senior decision makers in private sector businesses, carried out in March 2019, found that: 68% of employers worry about getting support for an autistic employee wrong. And 64% of employers said they do not know where to go for support or advice about employing autistic people. Both these figures represent a slight increase on when the same question was asked in 2016.

However, the poll also suggests that attitudes towards autistic people could be starting to improve. 27% of businesses polled in 2019 said that they thought an autistic person would be unlikely to fit in their team, compared to 34% when the same question was asked in 2016. The number of employers who think an autistic person would require too much support has dropped from 38% in 2016 to 31% in 2019.

Although employer attitudes towards employing autistic people appear to be slowly improving, more employers are concerned they don’t know how to help close the Autism Employment Gap. 

We are calling on the Government to honour its promise to develop a portal for employers, offering information and advice on supporting disabled employees.

Auto Trader’s story

Auto Trader reached out to the National Autistic Society a couple of years ago looking for some autism awareness training. They quickly decided they wanted to do much more. Since then they have been working with our charity to review and update their recruitment process and materials, policies for staff and training – and the support they give their current autistic employees.  

This work helped shape our Autism Friendly Employer Award, which was adapted from our existing Autism Friendly Award and consists of specialist standards across recruitment, staff awareness of autism and support for autistic employees.  

We are delighted to be announcing that Auto Trader is the first organisation in the world to achieve this award at the event and will be looking to roll out the award more widely later in the year. We hope that the award will help their drive to change attitudes about autism and help create a society that works for autistic people.

Christos Tsaprounis, Head of People & Culture, Auto Trader UK said: “At Auto Trader we strive to create a working environment that is accessible and inclusive for a diverse workforce.

“The work we have done so far, with the support of the National Autistic Society, is just the beginning of our journey and we recognise that we still have a long way to go. We will continue to learn from our colleagues as well as the autism charity to ensure we keep making improvements to provide the support autistic employees need to have a fulfilling career at Auto Trader. 

“We also hope to make a difference to the wider community of autistic people by developing wider initiatives such as the event we have just hosted in partnership with Inclusive Companies and the charity.”   

Jane Harris, the National Autistic Society's Director of External Affairs, said: "It’s brilliant to see so many leading employers coming together to find out more about autism and how they can open up the workplace for autistic people. 

“But a new poll suggests that businesses don’t know where to go for advice about supporting autistic employees and are worried about getting it wrong. This is part of the reason that just 16% of autistic people are estimated to be in full-time paid work. This is a shocking waste of talent, for both autistic people and employers.

“Events like this are really important. It’s a platform to talk about the huge potential autistic people can bring to workplaces across the country and we’re grateful to Auto Trader and Inclusive Companies for organising it.

"We're also delighted to announce that Auto Trader are the first organisation in the world to achieve our Autism Friendly Employer Award. Their commitment to making their workplace more accessible is inspiring - they're really leading the way. We look forward to rolling out the award later this year and working with more organisations, so we can create a world that works for autistic people."

Paul Sesay, CEO & Founder, Inclusive Companies said: “We live in a world where many organisations are struggling to understand and fulfil their legal obligations to people with disabilities. Autism spectrum conditions are among those that represent a particular challenge to employers that want to embrace the diversity and skills that autistic employees could bring to the workplace.

“This unique collaboration between Inclusive Companies, Auto Trader and the National Autistic Society has ensured that those involved can take away practical solutions, engage in a Q&A session and network with some of the industry’s leading autism advocates as we explore ways in which employers can make a difference to autistic people’s lives in the workplace.”

 

Headshots of people who work at autism-friendly companies

 

Further information 

Autism Friendly Employer Award

Information and advice for employers

Information and advice for autistic jobseekers

Research references in the news story

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 601 senior decision makers in private sector businesses of any size. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12 - 14 March 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of British business size.