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Attracting Talent from All Walks of Life Featured Pattern: P1010 January 2017

Author: Marianne Monteforte (Send us feedback.)

Organizations are experimenting with approaches to attract diverse workforces that feature a wider set of skills.

Abstracts in this Pattern:

A recent case study by researchers from Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and the University of Western Ontario (London, Canada) examined SAP's (Walldorf, Germany) Autism at Work program (see also SC-2013-07-10-040). The study revealed that "employers are increasingly finding fresh ideas and insights by recruiting workers with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other cognitive disabilities." Hiring from this talent pool can help companies create a workforce with a broad variety of skills and abilities, which could drive innovation. Meanwhile, large and small technology companies are experimenting with returnships—programs that aim to help midcareer women and men return to work after they have taken an extended leave. Somewhat similar to internships, returnships enable former professionals to reenter the workforce and employers to evaluate promising talent. Path Forward (New York, New York) is a nonprofit organization that aims to help talent return to work, and executive director Tami Forman believes that returnships and similar programs are good tools for companies that are seeking to employ "more women at the senior level."

In many regions of the world, international talent fails to find sufficient use because of legal, cultural, and language issues. La French Tech (, which promotes innovation and technology in France, created the French Tech Ticket contest to bring tech entrepreneurs to France. Contest winners will receive start-up capital, incubator support, and—most important—a permit to live in France.

In addition to companies' attempting to procure an increasingly wide range of talent, researchers are finding links between desirable skill sets and specific backgrounds. For example, some research suggests that a disadvantaged upbringing may create traits that are attractive to employers. According to a study by researchers from Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland) and the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (Urbana and Champaign, Illinois), "contrary to popular belief, abundant resources may have a negative effect on creativity." And Mad magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee recently credited his creative success to his impoverished upbringing.