Autism Acceptance Month
Making the Workplace Inclusive for Autistic Employees

Why autism acceptance should be brought into the spotlight each day rather than once a year

Autism Acceptance Month is an annual event observed in April to raise awareness about autism, and to promote understanding, acceptance, and inclusion of autistic people. Throughout the month, organisations, advocates, and communities around the world have hosted events, campaigns, and initiatives to educate the public about autism, dispel myths and misconceptions, and support autistic individuals and their families. 

Autism Acceptance Month also serves as an opportunity to highlight the unique talents and strengths of individuals with autism, and many of our member organisations already have initiatives in place, some of which are outlined in this article.

The National Autistic Society explains autism as a lifelong developmental disability that can affect how people communicate and interact with the world. They estimate that more than one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK. However, research from The Lancet in 2023 estimates the number to be nearer to 1.2 million as many people have not received an official diagnosis

Recent data from the 2024 Buckland Review of Autism government report stated that “despite their wish to work, the latest official statistics show that only around 3 in 10 working age autistic disabled people are in employment, compared with around 5 in 10 for all disabled people and 8 in 10 for non-disabled people.” The report also shares that autistic graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed after 15 months as non-disabled graduates, with only 36% finding full time work in this period.

These figures show us there is a significant talent pool of autistic people wanting to join and make valuable contributions as part of the workforce but they face challenges finding employment. 

As Autism Awareness month draws to an end, it is a great opportunity to highlight the various ways companies can make a difference by sharing examples from across the WiHTL and Diversity in Retail Collaboration Community on how organisations can make their working environment more inclusive for those who are autistic and neurodivergent and ensure the unique contribution each autistic person brings to a team is recognised and celebrated. 

How WiHTL & DiR Member organisations are taking action

Compass Group (UK&I) launched Social Partner Hub last year to support people from underrepresented groups who face challenges in their employment journey. They work with a number of external organisations including Ambitious About Autism to provide employment opportunities and, thanks to this initiative, 60 people have started in a new role. Additionally, managers and leaders have been given training at the interview and induction stages to ensure practices are inclusive.

In a blog dedicated to autism acceptance, Fuller’s described how one of their management teams employs autistic people, and ensures that workplace adjustments are incorporated where needed for a fully inclusive workplace environment.

"25 years on we have at least one person in our team every single day with an ID (Intellectual Disability) or has a SEN (Special Educational Need) and the goal is to get more into employment because they absolutely love it. I think we can make ourselves more accessible – we’ve got loads to learn as an industry and I get frustrated that the industry is so slow to see how much people with an ID can bring to it.” Stuart Green, General Manager

The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team at Greene King have created an internal document to create awareness around autism. This short guide defines autism, outlines the various characteristics which autistic people may have, and gives ways in which the Greene King community can support their autistic colleagues. Read the guide here.

Specsavers have training for all colleagues and managers on creating an inclusive space for neurodivergent colleagues, as well as guidance for neurodivergent colleagues on what support is available for them should they need it. They also use the Do-It profiler to help colleagues identify their neurodiversity strengths and challenges, and have run training to create neurodiversity champions who are on hand to support colleagues, alongside their neurodiversity colleague network.

Carnival has partnered with Ambitious about Autism to look at how thy can create opportunities for autistic people to come and work for them.

Ways in which employers can support autistic employees
Supporting autistic employees in the workplace requires a combination of understanding, flexibility, and tailored accommodations. By implementing these strategies, employers can create a more inclusive and supportive workplace environment for autistic employees, leading to improved job satisfaction, productivity, and retention. Here are several ways employers can support autistic employees:

How can it help autistic employees?

Supporting autistic employees in the workplace requires a combination of understanding, flexibility, and tailored accommodations. By implementing these strategies, employers can create a more inclusive and supportive workplace environment for autistic employees, leading to improved job satisfaction, productivity, and retention. Here are several ways employers can support autistic employees:

Education and awareness: Employers should provide training to all staff members to increase awareness and understanding of autism. This can help foster a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture.

Flexible work arrangements: Offering flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or adjusted work hours, can help autistic employees manage sensory sensitivities or other challenges they may face in a traditional office environment. Flexible working for parents or carers of autistic family members is also very supportive.

Clear communication: Providing clear and direct communication is essential. This includes giving clear instructions, avoiding ambiguous language, and being explicit about expectations.

Sensory considerations: Making adjustments to the physical environment, such as providing noise-cancelling headphones, creating quiet spaces, or allowing for flexible lighting options, can help autistic employees manage sensory overload.

Structured feedback and support: Providing regular, structured feedback and support can help autistic employees understand their performance and areas for improvement. This can include setting clear goals and providing specific, constructive feedback.

Workplace adjustments: Implementing workplace adjustments, such as providing assistive technology, allowing for extra breaks, or offering alternative communication methods (e.g., written instructions instead of verbal), can help autistic employees succeed in their roles. Occupational health services can also provide information on this.

Social support networks: Encouraging the formation of social support networks within the workplace can help autistic employees feel more included and supported. This can include setting up peer mentoring programmes or affinity groups for neurodivergent employees.

Individualised approach: Recognising that every autistic individual is unique and may require different types of support, employers should take an individualised approach to adjustments and support.


Member organisations within the WiHTL & DiR Collaboration Community have shown the wide and varied ways in which any team can support and include autistic people. In many cases, it is a matter of making reasonable adjustments to ensure all colleagues have equitable opportunities. Autism Acceptance Month is a fantastic period to showcase all that can be achieved through learning more about it and sharing this knowledge within organisations.

Other resources

The Disability Confident scheme (UK), to which many of our Member organisations have signed up, also recommends that companies steadily increase the number of employees who learn to be Disability Confident and able to support disabled colleagues and work towards employing 1 million people with disabilities by 2027.

Ambitious About Autism

Hidden Disabilities