ARLINGTON, VA, April 2, 2015 — In observance of World Autism Awareness Day, John Haley, chief executive officer of global professional services company Towers Watson (NASDAQ: TW), joined a panel discussion about private sector initiatives designed to employ individuals with autism. The session, which included other business leaders and autism self-advocates, was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City as part of its annual event to promote autism awareness and improve the quality of life for those affected by it.

This year’s event focused on supporting growth in employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum, which is estimated to affect 1% of the population worldwide. It’s also estimated that more than 80% of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed. Haley stressed that it makes sound business sense to leverage all talent, including those with disabilities, and highlighted the company’s charge to develop a diverse workforce to achieve its fullest potential.

“It’s an honor to be part of this meaningful discussion about autism and an untapped talent pool of individuals with unique strengths and capabilities,” said Haley. “Autism is simply another kind of difference. Towers Watson is committed to supporting all differences, across our workforce, in part, by fostering an inclusive culture that empowers a diverse workforce to integrate, succeed and help fuel our growth.”

Last year, Towers Watson partnered with Specialisterne, a charitable foundation that enables jobs for high-functioning people with autism, and AHRC, a family-governed organization committed to supporting people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. The organizations piloted a program that employed 18 seasonal data analysts in Towers Watson’s White Plains, NY office, where they processed and reviewed employer-submitted compensation data for the company’s Global Data Services business. The program demonstrated that individuals with autism can thrive in a data analysis environment.

“We’re pleased with the experiences we gained in partnering with Specialisterne,” said Gail McKee, chief HR officer, Towers Watson. “It offered individuals who are often isolated the opportunity to have active, productive and fulfilling employment. Our teams benefited, too, by appreciating the different ideas, perspectives and experiences these individuals brought to the mix. We are actively seeking to expand our pilot program in 2015 and 2016 with job opportunities in each of our three geographical regions: the Americas, Asia Pacific and EMEA.”

About Towers Watson

Towers Watson (NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management. With 15,000 associates around the world, the company offers consulting, technology and solutions in the areas of benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. Learn more at