Goldman Sachs is the latest company to target job candidates on the autism spectrum as it looks to boost diversity.
The investment bank told employees on Tuesday that it’s launching an eight-week paid internship for individuals with work experience who identify as neurodiverse, which includes those with autism, dyslexia, ADHD, developmental disorders and other mental health conditions.
The program, which provides “on-the-desk” work experience in one of Goldman’s divisions in New York, New Jersey and Salt Lake City, is designed to lead to a full-time job at the firm.
“We [have been] missing out on an opportunity to tap really highly skilled and highly intelligent individuals for the bank,” Megan Hogan, global head of diversity recruitment, told CNN Business.
The company initially expects to place participants in its engineering, operations and compliance divisions. Eventually, the firm would like 1% of employees to identify as neurodiverse, according to Hogan, who said there’s no deadline to hit that target.
“This is a pool that often doesn’t self-disclose for fear they wouldn’t be able to find roles,” she said. “We realized we needed to be a lot more proactive.”
The program is meant to complement existing programs to tap neurodiverse job candidates on college campuses, Hogan added. It will also feature training and support for participating managers.
Amid a tight labor market, US employers have in recent years turned to populations that traditionally have been underemployed. Technology and more flexible work environments have also made it easier to hire individuals who may require certain accommodations.
Disability:IN, a nonprofit that lobbies for disability inclusion in the workplace, in 2017 convened an advisory group of businesses with autism-focused hiring programs for at least a year. It includes Goldman (GS) competitor JPMorgan Chase (JPM), along with IBM, Ford, Microsoft.
Goldman said the neurodiversity initiative is modeled after its so-called Returnship, an eight-week program for people who have taken long leaves of absence from work, and its Veterans Integration Program, for those leaving the military. Those initiatives launched in 2008 and 2012, respectively.
The two programs have had almost 700 participants to date, according to a spokeswoman. About three-quarters of interested participants have received full-time offers, she said.