Cannes Lions

When Neurodiversity Works

IBM, New York / IBM / 2019

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Companies are looking to get increasingly complicated applications to market faster, with fewer defects and at lower cost. This requires constant innovation not only from technology, but new thinking and approaches to solve the business problems. IBM launched a program to hire people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to bring more neurodiverse thinking into the workplace.


In 2017, IBM launched a program to bring neurodiverse talent and thinking to application testing to help solve problems in new ways. We needed to produce an asset that highlights the true value this can bring.


• Raise awareness for IBM's IGNITE Application testing offering and solutions.

• Get clients to understand the true value of neurodiverse thinking when it comes to solving real business problems.

• Lead the conversation about the neurodiversity in the workplace and the benefits.


“When Neurodiversity Works” is a 14-minute documentary that follows four individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their journey to find meaningful work and independence. They become part of IBM’s IGNITE ASD program and are trained in IBM’s application testing and quality offering. This film demonstrates the importance of neurodiversity in the workplace, and the benefits it has not only in business, but on all of us.


Currently 44% of people with autism have IQ scores in the average to above average range. Nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job. Looking at these statistics, there was an opportunity to bring these uniquely talented individuals into the workforce to solve business problems in new ways, give them a voice, and change the conversation. In order to tell the full story we needed to create a longer 14 minute video to dive deeper into background lives and to and highlight the program and benefits.



The video premiered at IBM's Think 2019 Global Conference, and at the same time launched online and supported by articles and webapges about the program and how it can benefit complex business problems in the application testing world.


The documentary took 4 months to complete from beginning ot end and premiered in February 2019.


The documentary premiered at a movie theatre during IBM's Think 2019 conference and online.


The video was also shared on all of IBM's social channels and relevant product pages.



The documentary premiere was seen at IBM's Think 2019 global conference, and placed online on Youtube and amplified on all of IBM's social channels.


Online, the documentary gaining 5,000 organic views on Youtube and got over 3% engagement rate. It also received 100% of all reactions being positive as of May 2019.


This documentry has become a conversation piece for the ASD program program and because of the positive human and business impact, by 2020, in partnership with Specialisterne and other providers, IBM plans to create 300 new IBM jobs for individuals with ASD globally.

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