In the year since we outlined the compelling commercial case for workplace neurodiversity, our progress has been encouraging. We have strengthened our partnerships with leading Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) organisations and institutions in Australia, extended our successful internship program and created ongoing roles with neurodiversity in mind.
Many of the world’s leading technology organisations have launched neurodiversity programs. For us, neurodiversity means looking beyond just technology-focussed roles. We are nurturing several career pathways that acknowledge a variety of neurological conditions, including ASD.
We believe neurological differences should be recognised and respected as a variable personal characteristic on par with other examples such as gender, ethnicity, sexual identity and physical ability. Unlocking perspectives that view our work differently is crucial and we have adjusted hiring and management practices to reflect just that.
We are fortunate to be able to leverage the immense cultural value and productivity gains associated with recruiting talented people who have a unique and finely tuned set of attributes common in those with ASD including strong information retention and the ability to unpack and articulate complex systems and processes.
In partnership with the Autism Academy of Software Quality Assurance (AASQA), we have welcomed just under 20 interns to BHP since 2017. They have completed placements in fields including data science, software development and testing, engineering and environmental safety. Each possesses highly developed problem-solving skills and attention to detail which are invaluable attributes in roles of this nature.
We are helping to design and implement career plans for each participant after their internship concludes by working with organisations including AASQA and the International Software Testing Quality Board as well as institutions like Curtin University in Western Australia.
Behind these important developments are the stories of our team members, a number of who have transitioned from internships to permanent, full-time roles. Now into her second year as part of our Technology team, Perth-based Alexandra Flannigan recalls her journey from shy internship interviewee to an up-and-coming mentor to incoming cohorts.
“From day one, everyone at BHP really made me feel like I was part of the team. My opinions were listened to, my ideas were considered and everyone was just really nice to me,” Alexandra said.
“The symbol for autistic pride is a puzzle piece because it’s hard for us sometimes to see where we fit in the bigger picture and because we’re often so very different from the non-autistic people around us,” she continued.
“I just think that’s really funny because I feel like my puzzle piece fits here at BHP,” Alexandra concluded.
As BHP’s transformation continues, we are committed to creating an environment that recognises the extent to which innovation and our continued competitive advantage is strengthened by inclusion and diversity.
Meet Alexandra and other neurodiverse members of our team in the video above.