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Media release (by auticon)
21 April 2023
auticon an autistic-majority global company with over 300 practicing neurodiverse IT consultants has landed Fidelity Life as their flagship client partner in New Zealand. The partnership will focus on a pilot program designed to help Fidelity Life build on its commitment to being a diverse and inclusive employer.
Today, during Autism Acceptance Month, auticon is excited to announce the launch of a pilot program with New Zealand’s largest locally owned and operated life insurer Fidelity Life.
The program will see two IT consultants embedded in Fidelity Life for a period of 6-months, coupled with Neuro-Inclusion training provided to both leaders and teams across the entire organisation.
The partnership is an early milestone on Fidelity Life’s emerging diversity and inclusion journey and promises to enhance inclusion in the workplace, ultimately offering neurodivergent individuals greater certainty in employment and the ability to have a more inclusive and rewarding working life at the company.
For auticon, the partnership is a critical first step in New Zealand and presents an opportunity to provide a local example of the organisation’s 360-degree neuro-inclusion support model already yielding success in eight other countries around the world.
According to Autism NZ approximately 1 in 55, or 93,000, New Zealanders are on the autism spectrum and yet it has been estimated that less than 10 percent of New Zealanders who have been diagnosed as autistic are in full-time employment. auticon being an employer whose mission it is to provide high-quality technology careers to autistic adults is welcome news to Kiwis on the autism spectrum who may be struggling to find work.
“We thank Fidelity Life for demonstrating their commitment to inclusive employment and being our very first partner in New Zealand. auticon look forward to delivering a successful pilot and opening many more doors for people on the spectrum here in Aotearoa New Zealand,” said Bodo Mann auticon Australian & New Zealand CEO and Managing Director.
“Business has a lot to gain from embracing greater diversity, and a strong diversity program can deliver real competitive advantage. auticon’s consultants are accurate, proficient, diligent, and truly gifted, however, that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Neurodivergent people are wired to think differently and can offer a new perspective and it’s this new perspective that leads to the holy grail of corporate success – innovation.”
“Yet despite being highly qualified, people on the spectrum struggle to hold down full-time work. We aim to change this, and this can only be done with great partnerships like the one we’ve formed with Fidelity Life.”
Fidelity Life Chief Sales and Service Officer Bronwyn Kirwan is exploring her own neurodiversity and is excited by the prospect of bringing more diverse thinking to the organisation.
“Neurodiversity can often be a strength in the workplace, but it requires the right kind of environment to foster that potential. Having worked with people on the spectrum throughout my career, I’ve gained insights into some of the exceptional abilities and skills neurodiverse colleagues bring to the workplace, but also some of the challenges they face. The things that are considered as corporate norms such as team meetings, planning processes, funding cycles, tolerating ambiguity are all relatively straightforward for neurotypicals, but even the traditional social construct of the office can be much more challenging for neurodivergent colleagues.
“Much of this felt oddly familiar to me and I’m now on my own journey to understand if I’m on the spectrum – which I’m starting to understand is anything but linear.
“As New Zealand’s largest locally owned life insurer, we’re here for all New Zealanders and believe in celebrating the diversity of our people. We want to be a place where everyone feels welcome and is given the opportunity to flourish. Every single person has the ability to add value in one way or another, and ensuring we create a place where all our people can do that will be critical to our goal of being here for the long term good of New Zealand,” said Ms Kirwan.
auticon consultant Javier, an Electronic Engineer who recently moved to New Zealand from Chile, started working at Fidelity Life as part of the pilot program and he is enjoying the experience.
“I’ve been in New Zealand for just over 6 months now without family or friends.”
“Being autistic and in a new country it’s been difficult to connect with people and fit in. I’m looking forward to getting to know my co-workers at Fidelity Life and connecting with more people.”
“However, I’ve enjoyed moving to New Zealand it is a nice place, people are kind and quieter too,” said Javier.
When asked about the challenges he has experienced previously in the workplace, Javier was open about communication being an issue, but he had learned to use some key tools to help overcome this.
“Frequently I find that verbal communication can be ambiguous, but I have learned to develop flow charts about conversations that help me to understand the logical order of information and can help me to overcome a lot of these ambiguities.”
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