Hiring more autistic people in banking makes cents

wearepurple_LSE

Yesterday my son Jules, who’s autistic, opened the London stock exchange. (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write!) He was joining forces with an organisation called Purple who are trying to change the conversation around neurodiversity and highlight the disability employment gap.

The Stock Exchange is not my natural habitat. I know nothing about money. I find banking jargon mind-bogglingly obfuscatory. ‘Stagflation’ for example. What on earth is that? Stalking antlered beasts at Balmoral?… And ‘fiscal rectitude’? Surely that can only lead to hemorrhoids. ISAS , TESSAS , PEPS …they all sound like infectious diseases for which you should take an immediate course of antibiotics. Nor can I understand why the tax man is always nagging me while giant corporations like Google, Starbucks and Apple often pay no corporation tax? That’s an equation not even Einstein could fathom.

But Jules took it in his sneakered stride. Here is the little speech he made to the bankers, plus a small video of him opening the day’s trading here. I feel a bit like the interfering, pushy mother in the Gypsy musical, posting this, but I think it might  help businesses to open their hearts and their minds to hiring people who are different. Cheers for now, Kathy

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX by Jules Robertson.

Thank you for inviting me: it’s an honour to be here at the opening of this great stock exchange. I am sure that it will go up rather than down.

I’m an actor in the BBC medical drama called Holby City. What makes me different from other actors is that I’m autistic. Life can be hard for autistic people – we want to work, we need to work, but its really hard to get a job despite the fact that our brains are unique – Einstein, Mozart, Warhol, Steve Jobs – were all on the autistic spectrum – most of us have to live on benefits, in bedsits. Less than 15% of autistic people are in the work force, which is a much lower rate than for other disabilities.

The BBC took a bold step in casting me in Holby – it was the first time that an autistic actor player an autistic character. In the old days, when movies depicted the Rain Man, he was played by Dustin Hoffman. Today, he would be played by an autistic actor. That is an example of how my business, show business, is progressing. With Holby, the BBC took a risk, and it paid off. Could you take the same risk?

Autistic people have amazing talents. Some are very good with figures – like the Rain Man. They have very high IQ’s. They could add value to your business, and a job would help them value themselves. I can’t tell you how liberating it is to be finally earning a wage. Until recently my current account reminded me of all the girls I try to chat up – not showing the slightest interest. So it’s absolutely great to finally be able to tell my money where to go… instead of wondering where it went.

Purple have asked me here today to help you too to think outside the box and hire people who think differently, and who think laterally. So be brave, take a gamble by employing us. You won’t regret it.

In truth there is no such thing as normal and abnormal, just ordinary and extraordinary. And I think you’ll find that autistic people do have the most extraordinary minds. Why don’t you find out?

Click here to read some of the comments from my readers

5 Comments

  • Thank you Jules and Kathy for educating people about the significant contributions people on the Spectrum can make to society. My 28 year old son who is on the Spectrum has just been offered his first full time job – a Graduate IT position at Telstra in Australia. He had applied for around 50 jobs and despite the fact he had achieved High Distinctions and Distinctions for his Master of IT, as well as getting through all the job testing process, the final interview often let him down. Thank goodness, the Managers of Telstra could seen through his impaired social skills and communication to see someone who has so much to offer and is worth giving a go. I cried when my son told me that he had received the offer because I’ve only ever wanted the world to see how much he and others on the Spectrum can contribute to the community. It has restored my faith in society. Sam also loves drama but didn’t think he had the talent to make a living out of it so now does theatre improv classes for fun and to help his confidence. Any chance of Jules coming to Australia to educate our workforce? Thanks again to both of you.

    Reply
  • You’re so right about ordinary and extraordinary. My tech skills are ordinary so I hope my comment will be accepted as I dont do Facebook.
    I liked the wry humour in your speech. You really are funny.
    I hope those bankers open their hearts. Seems to me, banking is an OCD world – perfect fit for some on the spectrum. I wish you all the best in your acting career.
    Gail
    Newcastle Australia

    Reply
  • a strong, intelligent and warm-hearted parent is such a gift to a child

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Making headlines

Believe nearly everything you read...

Publlished on February 13, 2021

Guardian

Authors share their favourite scenes of love and intimacy, and Kathy chooses Persuasion by Jane Austen.

Read now

Aired on December 3, 2020

BBC Radio 4

As part of the 'Great Lives' series Kathy chooses Hollywood's 'queen of the quip', Mae West. First played out in 2005.

Listen now

Aired on November 20, 2020

Mailplus.co.uk

Kathy joined Jo Elvin and Richard Eden to talk about all things related to The Crown.

Watch now

One-liners, wise cracks and witticisms