Herbert Smith Freehills’ programme to recruit autistic people shows signs of success

A law firm is working in partnership with charity Autism Forward to recruit autistic individuals.

The programme, developed by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, which aims to recruit and provide ongoing support to the employees, enabling them to reach their full potential in their working lives, is showing early signs of success.

As a result of the programme, two autistic jobseekers have already been placed in teams within the firm’s London office, and are due to start work this month. This follows the appointment of two autistic individuals in the firm’s Belfast office. 

The firm is also working with AS Mentoring, an organisation providing specialist coaching and mentoring to identify and support autistic candidates who have the skills appropriate to the available roles within the firm.

Figures from the National Autistic Society show that only 16% of autistic adults are in full-time employment, despite 79% of people with autism wanting to work.

“Fostering a culture of opportunity and inclusivity is core to the way we work and I am delighted that this programme has delivered its first successes,” says Alison Brown, partner and chair of Herbert Smith Freehills’ global diversity and inclusion group. “Every business wants to ensure it recruits and retains the best talent for each role and this means having the right support processes in place at every stage of the candidate and employee journey.”

A key part of the new programme will involve working with the teams to which autistic individuals are recruited. Training will be provided to enhance awareness about a broad range of working practices and communication styles, including but not limited to those identifying as being on the autism spectrum.

Jane Pierce, co-founder and trustee of Autism Forward, added: “Autistic people have a whole range of strengths and skills but face barriers to employment due to misconception and lack of understanding. So many businesses focus on the search for talent but miss out on swathes of individuals with so much to offer.”

Earlier this year, Herbert Smith Freehills hosted the first in a series of roundtables being run by Autism Forward for executives across industry sectors to discuss how organisations can improve recruitment processes and workplace adjustments to make paid employment more accessible for autistic people.

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