(Originally published on LinkedIn)
I recently attended a meeting with EY professionals in our Neurodiversity Center of Excellence in Dallas before I went to our EY Americas Inclusiveness Advisory Council (IAC) meeting. The IAC meets regularly to share leading practices, explore diversity and inclusion challenges, and collaborate on high-impact actions that council members can take back to their teams to advance the EY culture of inclusiveness across all dimensions of diversity and develop highest performing teams. I walked away from both experiences feeling incredibly inspired and compelled to write about what I witnessed and what we can achieve when we truly activate and engage diverse and inclusive teams.
Can diversity and inclusion drive how we create the future?
Yes. In Dallas, the teams I met with are leveraging the diverse abilities that result from being on the autism spectrum. We are enabling our people to achieve their full potential, and simultaneously solving some of the world’s most pressing business issues, because of (not in spite of) their diverse abilities.
Some examples of what these teams are currently working on include:
• Writing code to automate expense processes
• Using data analytics as part of transaction due diligence to provide insights
• Creating scenarios of how blockchain could impact our business
I also asked about the team members’ backgrounds, which included linguistics, actuarial science, gaming, farming and biomedical engineering. Many of them were self-taught in computer programming, while some also have backgrounds in computer science and engineering.
At EY, we are deeply committed to fostering an environment that respects and builds on the assets and talents of each person and valuing their differences—including ethnic diversity, gender, sexual orientation or physical abilities. Making sure our people’s voices are heard and valued helps us provide better solutions for our clients and our organization.
Where the magic happens
After I had spent time with the team and learning about the innovative projects they’re working on, one of our team members in Dallas shared with the IAC later in the day – “I honestly never expected to find a place where I could feel comfortable bringing my whole self to work, but I decided to take a shot with EY, and I’m so glad I did. It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had”.
When I heard this, I was incredibly moved and filled with pride. I feel grateful to be a Partner at our firm where our people are encouraged to be true to themselves, bring their real selves to work and use their unique abilities and diverse perspectives to create a better working world.
There is still more work to do and here’s why
Despite their often superior problem solving skills, people with autism are often underemployed. At EY, we believe that only the highest-performing teams, which maximize the power of different opinions, perspectives and cultural references, will succeed in the global marketplace. This is another fork in the road of our journey to making diversity and inclusion a reality at more organizations. At EY, we will be doing our part to build a better working world by continuing on this path, and I‘m incredibly encouraged and energized by the prospect of all the potential that will be unlocked by continuing to embrace the question, “what can we achieve when great minds don’t think alike?”
EY San Jose Office Managing Partner Ibi Krukrubo specializes in advising leading technology companies.