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Social Cost Of Not Being An Autism-Friendly Workplace

Employers have a responsibility to be inclusive

Bonnie Scherry, G&A Partners’ director of Corporate HR, shared her insights on creating an inclusive workplace with the Houston Business Journal.

A company never wants to be known as exclusive or unfair to those with autism or disabilities, but sometimes it can happen, and the impact can be severe.

In light of alleged accusations from a Houston law firm around bullying and discrimination, it’s important for employers to know how to handle similar situations, as well as what effects they can have on their business, said one Houston HR expert.

“As an employer, you want to be open and have a reputation that you’re open to equal employment toward everyone,” Bonnie Scherry, director of human resources for Houston-based G&A Partners, told the HBJ. “You want to be an employer that’s known for including everyone in the hiring process.”

It’s a corporate responsibility for employers to be wholly inclusive, Scherry said. It can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths and can make it difficult to find new business or new talent.

“It’s not a feather in the cap everyone wants,” she said.

To make sure it doesn’t happen in your office, provide diversity training information that help break down the common stereotypes, said Dr. Katherine Loveland, a psychiatric and behavioral science professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School.

“(People with autism) don’t always socialize well; they miss jokes.…They don’t express emotion in quite the same way, and they’re misinterpreted,” Loveland said. “Sometimes people judge them rather harshly.”

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It all may sound like a no-brainer, but public perception can swing pretty fast. The actions of a few employees don’t necessarily reflect the entire company culture; however, if brought to light, the repercussions can be significant.

This article originally appeared on the Houston Business Journal’s “Houston BizBlog.” To view the original article, click here.

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