New report finds employment barriers, lack of workplace support for autistic community

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March 2022

According to a recent report by Deloitte Canada and auticon Canada, employers need to do more to understand neurodiversity, reduce barriers to employment for those with autism, and create thoughtful structural supports to foster deeper inclusion among the autistic community. The report, Embracing neurodiversity at work: How Canadians with autism can help employers close the talent gap, also shows that the autistic community in Canada is often underrepresented and underemployed, despite its potential in providing access to new skills and talent.  

Among the highest ranked barriers currently facing the autistic community is employers’ focus on social competency during the interview process, with 40 per cent of survey respondents citing it as a “great challenge”. Another barrier impacting employee retention is a lack of structural support systems, including flexible work policies.

In 2020, 48 per cent of Canadian companies reported they were experiencing workforce shortages—double the rate disclosed 10 years earlier. Yet, while Canadian businesses have made significant strides toward improving diversity, equity, and inclusion on many fronts, employment barriers remain for neurodiverse Canadians.

Among the survey respondents, 45 per cent say they feel the need to mask their autism while at work, and 47 per cent claim they aren’t comfortable disclosing their autism to employers. Despite efforts to build awareness and understanding of neurodiversity, more than half (55 per cent) of survey respondents indicate they feel there’s a stigma associated with autism. Likewise, 56 per cent say they’re treated differently once people learn of their autism, and 42 per cent claim they’ve been the target of discrimination at work.

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