KPMG and Melwood Program for Neurodiverse Individuals Wins Phase 2 in ACL Competition

Originally published at KPMG ranked No. 16 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.


KPMG LLP, in collaboration with Melwood, is one of the three Phase 2 prize winners of the Administration for Community Living (ACL) Inclusive Pipeline Challenge competition to produce an innovative pilot program that would help expand the recruiting and retention of workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The three Phase 2 winners are currently in the Phase 3 challenge, refining their models for a $100,000 grand prize.

“Although currently there is a global competition for talent, statistics show that most autistic adults remain unemployed or underemployed regardless of their skill set,” said Sean Hoffman, Partner, KPMG LLP. “Together with Melwood, we created a unique program that would fill job openings with skilled neurodiverse people, such as autistic individuals, who are eager to connect with employers who are seeking to broaden and diversify their talent pool. Thus far, our program has been successful at unlocking the untapped talent of neurodiverse individuals.”

KPMG and Melwood developed a solution based on Melwood’s 14-week abilIT program of technical IT instruction, soft skills training, job search assistance, job placement and on-the-job coaching. The program provides participants with the confidence, credentials and skills to land entry-level technology or technology-adjacent jobs.

Of the 80 neurodiverse participants in the KPMG/Melwood Phase 2 study, 62 individuals (78 percent) graduated from the program, with 49 graduates (61 percent) sitting for a certification exam and 31 (39 percent) earning at least one certification. With program graduates earning salaries of up to $95,000 per year, the median wage for the program’s job outcomes is more than double the median wage of traditional vocational rehabilitation programs in the region. Three of the study participants enrolled in college.

“Melwood is proud to team up with KPMG on an inclusive workforce pipeline model, leveraging the success of abilIT, that has the potential to scale up the hiring of workers with disabilities,” said Larysa Kautz, Melwood’s President and CEO.

According to ACL, about 82 percent of working-age Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities such as ASD are not in the workforce. However, companies that employ and support workers with disabilities have 28 percent higher revenue and 30 percent higher profit margins.

“The reality is that autistic individuals have amazing strengths to offer and we wanted to find a way to apply those strengths to today’s workplace,” Hoffman added.

Latest News

Creating Pay Equity and Equal Treatment for Employees

Even though the disparity in pay has been a high-profile issue for decades, it remains a concern for businesses across every industry. HR professionals and business leaders continue to search for ways to create pay equity between genders and those of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. Some may face mandates…

5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: August 11

As the saying goes, the news never stops — but there’s a lot of it out there, and all of it doesn’t always pertain to our readers. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories that matter most to our diversity focused audience. 1. Eli Lilly Plans…

The Importance of Business-Community Partnerships

Businesses increasingly play a key role in building stronger communities. It’s something that people in the past few years have come to expect. It’s created not only a way to improve local communities, but also boost an organization’s employee morale, loyalty and brand reputation. One of the main ways businesses…

CDO Series: Humana’s Carolyn Tandy

Following the murder of George Floyd, the role of Chief Diversity Officers has become more important as companies started to be more intentional with their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, which has made the last few years tumultuous for many CDOs. In the first interview of a series of articles…