Woolworths appoints autistic IT consultants for assurance work

12 May 2020 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read

To mark World Autism Awareness Month, Australian retail giant Woolworths has entered a six-month pilot partnership with IT consulting firm Auticon to develop and implement a quality assurance software.

Auticon is an IT services firm that offers consulting, quality assurance and big data services. The firm’s workforce is comprised of adults on the autism spectrum, who work with non-autistic professionals to develop unique IT solutions for businesses across the world.

According to the firm, members of the team with autism bring a set of unique analytical capabilities to the table, including a high capacity for pattern recognition, outstanding concentration abilities, attention to detail and a high degree of objectivity. These members work in collaboration with a Job Coach from Auticon, who facilitates the interaction between the team and the client organisation.

Auticon has been in the Australian market since November last year, adding to its global team of 210 consultants with some level of autism. The firm’s latest client is retail giant and one of Australia’s largest employers Woolworths, with Auticon looking to deliver a quality assurance software for the company.

Woolworths to work with autistic IT consultants

Woolworths is among many grocery retailers in the country turning to digital solutions, as the retail landscape continues to struggle against digital disruption. 

The partnership was signed in April, aligning with World Autism Awareness Month. According to Woolworths Group Chief Information Officer John Hunt, companies such as Auticon could be critical to making the digital landscape more inclusive, as well as to meet the growing skill gap in the digital sphere.

“If Australia is to address the STEM shortage, we need to embrace diversity in all its forms. Many autistic individuals are hugely talented in STEM fields, so this presents an opportunity for us. We are keen to explore ways in which we can work with companies like auticon to create an autism-friendly workplace and benefit from a larger pool of talented STEM skilled IT professionals,” he said.

Hunt continued to stress that Woolworths will work to make its work environment more empowering for people across the spectrum. Auticon Australia Managing Director Amanda Turnill expressed her gratitude to Woolworths for getting the ball rolling on an uphill task for the firm in Australia.

“We thank Woolworths for demonstrating their commitment to inclusive employment, and auticon look forward to delivering a successful project. auticon’s IT consultants are accurate, proficient, diligent and truly gifted. Despite being highly qualified, people on the spectrum in Australia still struggle to hold down full-time work. We aim to change this and the programme with Woolworths is a wonderful start,” she said.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are more than 206,000 Australians with autism, a 25% increase from the 164,000 with the condition in 2015. Males are 3.5 times more likely than females to have the developmental and relationship disorder.