Employment

This story warmed our hearts here at IA. Kudos to Microsoft, SAP and all 50 of the big-name companies that came together for the April summit on how to bring more autistic adults into the workforce and recognizing the talents of those with autism.
Read or watch the CBS Story, “The growing acceptance of autism in the workplace.”

Is the glass half full or half empty? Do you have a unique ability or a disability?

Words are tricky. Describing the same thing in two different ways is like magic because the undertones can change between negative and positive. Is your glass half full? Is your blind friend at work uniquely abled?  

Take low vision for instance, a physical condition that limits a person’s sense of sight. At first glance, that may have negative connotations. The mind immediately jumps to the things that a person with low vision cannot do, the places where they are limited.

The US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) presented top awards on Sept. 30 during the annual conference Leadership Awards in Austin, Texas. Recognition was given to six companies, an individual and an affiliate network for their outstanding commitment to and work in the disability inclusion community.  

This year the USBLN expanded the Marketplace Innovator of the Year category to include two awards, one for a disability inclusive advertisement and one for product development. The eight 2015 USBLN Leadership Award categories and winners are:

  • John D. Kemp Leadership Award -  Oswald "Oz" Mondejar, Senior Vice President, Mission and Advocacy of Partners Continuing Care, non-acute care services division of Partners HealthCare, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Affiliate of the Year - Wyoming's Uinta County Business Leadership Network
  • Advocate of the Year - Supply Chain Inclusion - Capital One
  • Supplier of the Year - Mark Ellson, Founder and CEO, Jemini, Inc.
  • Top Corporation for Disability-Owned Businesses - IBM
  • Marketplace Innovator of the Year, Disability Inclusive Advertisement - Wells Fargo & Company
  • Marketplace Innovator of the Year, Product Development - AT&T
  • Employer of the Year - Microsoft

One of the cornerstones of the USBLN is the supplier diversity program. Part of the success of the program is that the USBLN is the leading third-party certifier of disability-owned firms, including service-disabled veteran-owned businesses (SDVOBs). The Advocate of the Year - Supply Chain Inclusion award recognizes the individual advocate and/or procurement champion, who has provided exceptional support in the development of USBLN-certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprises® (DOBEs) and the USBLN Disability Supplier Diversity Program® (DSDP). Capital One has demonstrated outstanding commitment to the utilization and growth of disability-owned businesses.

"At Capital One we understand the value that a diverse supplier base provides to our company, enabling us to bring together diverse perspectives, backgrounds and experiences that reflect the customers and communities we serve," said Kimberlee Sours, Supplier Diversity, Capital One. "Through active engagement with groups like USBLN, we work to continually improve our Supplier Diversity programs and better serve the wide-ranging needs of our customers and communities."

The Top Corporation for Disability-Owned Businesses award was given to IBM because they have demonstrated outstanding inclusion of USBLN-certified disability-owned businesses, including businesses owned by service disabled veterans. IBM has a proven commitment to disability business inclusion in their supply chain processes and corporate supplier diversity programs.

"IBM has a long history of diversity and it remains a foundation of our business," said Dan Carrell, Vice President, Operations and Client Services Procurement, IBM. "That commitment extends to IBM's suppliers, where we look for those who can provide value regardless of race, gender or disability."

Wells Fargo & Company took home the inaugural Marketplace Innovator Award of the Year, Disability Inclusive Advertisement for its memorable commercial representing two emerging diversity market segments engaged in a common human goal - to have a family. The commercial reflects the company's leadership in creating a marketing campaign that embraces the business value of a diverse market, including the disability market.

"I was extremely proud to accept this award on behalf of Wells Fargo and our 265,000 team members in the U.S. and around the world," said Kathy Martinez, Wells Fargo People with Disabilities Market Segment and Strategy Manager. "Much like the USBLN, diversity and inclusion is foundational to who we are as a company. Our support of the disability and the LGBT communities aligns with our broader commitment to diversity -to serve diverse customers, to hire, develop and retain diverse team members and to encourage team members to value and respect each other for their differences." 

The Marketplace Innovator of the Year, Product Development award was given to AT&T for their development work on Real Time Text (RTT) that allows both users to send and receive text and voice at the same time. The ground-breaking technology that follows universal design principles will be available commercially in 2017. It will greatly enhance opportunities for individuals with disabilities to advance in their careers and to enrich their personal lives.

"Real Time Text has been a great collaboration between individuals with different skills and outlooks from across AT&T - and even outside the company," said Aaron Bangor, PH.D. CHFP, AT&T Corporate Accessibility Technology Office. "Committing to disability inclusion throughout the design process draws out our creativity and ingenuity and helps us to deliver better products and services for our customers - and for society in general, and RTT is one of the resulting technologies."

 

The 2015 USBLN Employer of the Year Award was awarded to Microsoft. Microsoft is internationally recognized for exemplary policies, strategies and initiatives that have resulted in measurable results in the areas of disability inclusiveness in the workplace, marketplace and supply chain. The disability inclusion work Microsoft is doing is significant to the disability inclusion community and truly moving the needle in this space.

"We are so humbled and inspired by this recognition. Our mission at Microsoft is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more and our journey with disability inclusion embodies that mission. We're proud of programs like the Autism Hiring Pilot, and Disability Answer Desk, as well as our partnership with organizations like Special Olympics. We look forward to continuing our journey to empower people of all abilities," said Mary Ellen Smith, corporate vice president, Microsoft Operations.

Additional highlights include the John D. Kemp Leadership Award, which is presented to an individual who has developed or influenced the development of significant company disability employment programs and services that result in measurable, tangible and positive outcomes, dramatically improving disability employment opportunities.

Oswald "Oz" Mondejar has dedicated his life to unlocking opportunities for people with disabilities, and to overcoming societal barriers based upon ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation and health status. "Oz" Mondejar, Senior Vice President, Mission and Advocacy, Partners Continuing Care, Inc. ("PCC"), the non-acute care services division of Partners HealthCare. Oz works at the intersection of policy, advocacy and media, defining PCC's core values and leveraging the organization's resources in order to maximize positive social impact - locally, nationally and internationally. He is responsible for mission integration and administrative operations across three divisions: Human Resources, Marketing Communications, and Community Relations including Adaptive Sports.  

Prior to joining Partners HealthCare in 2001, Oz led the New England Region recruitment program for the Social Security Administration and worked as a human resources executive in a number of different industries including manufacturing, hospitality and finance.  

"For me to receive the John D Kemp award is really one of the most meaningful I could ever ask for," said Oz Mondejar, Senior Vice President, Mission and Advocacy, Partners Continuing Care, Inc. "The USBLN is really the bridge between business and an untapped talent pool. My focus throughout my career has been to work with others in both the public and private sectors to break down those real and perceived barriers to see that hiring persons with disabilities is more than a 'good thing to do' it truly is good business. I'm so proud to accept this from an organization that understands that."

Also, 4 Wheel City, anentertainment organization started by Namel "Tapwaterz" Norris and Ricardo "Rickfire" Velasquez who are two talented hip-hop artists, motivational speakers and are wheelchair users due to gun violence provided entertainment. Their mission is to use hip-hop music and culture to create more opportunities for people with disabilities and inspire people not to give up in life.

As a surprise to the award winners, they each received an airline voucher from conference airline partner, Southwest Airlines to fly anywhere in the domestic United States.

"We are thrilled to honor these amazing companies and individuals for the work they are doing in the disability inclusion space," said Jill Houghton, executive director, USBLN. "We are grateful for their partnership and it's a fantastic way to kick off Disability Employment Awareness Month."

The sold out conference concluded Oct. 1.

 

The BBC has reported that the tech giant Microsoft wants to hire more people with autism to fill some of its full time positions. To accomplish this Microsoft will work with a specialized recruitment firm, Specialisterne. The announcement was made in the Microsoft on the Issues blog where senior executive Mary Ellen Smith wrote, “People with Autism bring strengths that we need at Microsoft.”

Today, the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) are pleased to announce that health insurer Highmark Inc. joined as a Founding Partner of the USBLN and AAPD's new Disability Equality IndexSM (DEISM), an online tool that offers businesses the opportunity to objectively measure their full inclusion of people with disabilities as employees, suppliers, and customers.

"We are thrilled to have Highmark Inc. join us on this groundbreaking initiative for the business and disability communities," said Jill Houghton, Executive Director of the USBLN. "By joining as a DEI Founding Partner, Highmark Inc. is showcasing its support of disability inclusive practices throughout corporate America," said Mark Perriello, President and CEO of AAPD.

Created by leaders in the business and disability communities, and after the successful completion of the DEI pilot with 48 Fortune 1000 scope companies in March 2014, the first Annual DEI was launched to Fortune 1000 companies in October 2014.

The DEI is a benchmarking tool that offers businesses the opportunity to receive an objective score on their disability inclusion policies and practices, and identify avenues for continued improvement. Companies self-report on a wide-range of criteria within four categories: Culture & Leadership, Enterprise-Wide Access, Employment Practices, and Community Engagement & Support Services.

"At Highmark, our employees are paramount to successfully serving our customers every day," said Deb Rice-Johnson, president of Highmark Health Plan and board member of the AAPD. "We strive for an inclusive culture, including recruiting and retaining people with disabilities. We are proud to continue to support the efforts of AAPD and the US Business Leadership Network. In particular, the new Disability Equality Index will help Highmark and other U.S. companies to meet higher, more consistent standards for inclusive workforces that embrace people with disabilities."

Added Sara Oliver-Carter, vice president of Diversity & Inclusion for Highmark Health, "The new Disability Equality Index is an important step forward. It will help Highmark and other companies to better create inclusive, high-performance workforces in which people with disabilities play vital roles."

The DEI Founding Partner status was a one-time opportunity exclusive to the first 15 companies that joined. The USBLN and AAPD are excited to announce that the 15 spots have been filled. To date, DEI Founding Partners include American Airlines, CVS Health, DuPont, GlaxoSmithKline, Highmark Inc., Lockheed Martin, New Editions Consulting, Inc., Northrop Grumman Corporation, Raytheon, Walmart, and WellPoint. The other DEI Founding Partners will be announced soon. Comcast / NBCUniversal is the DEI Exclusive Founding Technology Partner. Companies interested in learning more about other DEI opportunities should contact Liz Taub, USBLN Director, Business Relations & Strategic Partnerships, at liz@usbln.org.

For more information about the DEI, please visit: https://www.disabilityequalityindex.org/.

Yesterday, the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) are pleased to announce that Lockheed Martin joined as a Founding Partner of the USBLN and AAPD's new Disability Equality IndexSM (DEISM), an online tool that offers businesses the opportunity to objectively measure their full inclusion of people with disabilities as employees, suppliers, and customers.

"We are thrilled to have Lockheed Martin join us on this groundbreaking initiative for the business and disability communities," said Jill Houghton, Executive Director of the USBLN. "By joining as a DEI Founding Partner, Lockheed Martin is showcasing their support of disability inclusive practices throughout corporate America," said Mark Perriello, President and CEO of AAPD.

Created by leaders in the business and disability communities, and after the successful completion of the DEI pilot with 48 Fortune 1000 scope companies in March 2014, the first Annual DEI is launching to Fortune 1000 companies this month.

The DEI is a benchmarking tool that offers businesses the opportunity to receive an objective score on their disability inclusion policies and practices, and identify avenues for continued improvement. Companies self-report on a wide-range of criteria within four categories: Culture & Leadership, Enterprise-Wide Access, Employment Practices, and Community Engagement & Support Services.

"At Lockheed Martin, we're committed to strengthening a culture of inclusion that allows employees to bring their entire selves to work every day and encourages them to contribute fully," said Rainia Washington, vice president, Culture, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Programs. "We're looking forward to partnering with DEI on this initiative to help organizations objectively review their disability practices and implement improvements."

Lockheed Martin offers national and regional Leadership Forums that promote professional development, workplace inclusion and drive business results. Each forum is chaired by one or more Lockheed Martin senior executives and provides valuable networking, mentoring and leadership development opportunities. The People with Disabilities Leadership Forum was established in 2012 and aligns to the People with Disabilities Employee Resource Group.

The DEI Founding Partner status is a one-time opportunity exclusive to the first 15 companies that join before December 31, 2015. To date, DEI Founding Partners include American Airlines, Comcast / NBCUniversal, CVS Health, DuPont, GlaxoSmithKline, Lockheed Martin, New Editions Consulting, Inc., Northrop Grumman Corporation, and WellPoint. Companies interested in learning more about becoming a DEI Founding Partner should contact Liz Taub, USBLN Director, Business Relations & Strategic Partnerships.

 

About the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN)

The US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) is a national non-profit that helps business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain, and marketplace. The USBLN serves as the collective voice of nearly 50 Business Leadership Network affiliates across the United States, representing over 5,000 businesses. Additionally, the USBLN Disability Supplier Diversity Program® (DSDP) is the nation's leading third party certification program for disability-owned businesses, including businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.

About the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

The American Association of People with Disabilities is the nation's largest disability rights organization. AAPD promotes equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. AAPD's members, including people with disabilities and family, friends, and supporters, represent a powerful force for change. To learn more, visit the AAPD Web site.

Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion in Social Media – The User Experience, will be a virtual town hall dialogue examining the accessibility barriers of social media for people with disabilities. The dialogue is put on by The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the National Council on Disability. The public is invited to participate.

The Event will take place Monday, March 17, to Friday, April 4. It will be the first in a series of three social media events on accessibility held online and taking place over the next three months.

The Value of social media in the lives of people with disabilities will be explored through the conversation during the event. Focus will be on work and identifying accessibility issues and creative approaches to make social media tools more accessible and usable. As a participant you will be able to discuss your social media experiences and submit ideas, comments and vote on potential solutions.  

You can register for the event, which is being coordinated under ODEP’s ePolicyWorks initiative.

The Indian Federation of United Nations Association (IFUNA) in association with Friends of Differently Abled (FODA) recently launched an employment website for people with disabilities. The website will link employers and persons with disabilities who can register with the site and upload the pertinent information. Those who upload their details can get help at Dr. MGR Janaki School in Saligramam on Saturdays from 4pm to 8pm.

Microsoft has announced their Microsoft DisAbility Scholarship. The $5,000 scholarship is designed to empower and enable high school students with disabilities:

  • Go to college
  • Recognize the impact of technology
  • Seek careers in technology

The overarching goal of the scholarship is to increase enrolment in higher education and, ultimately, help decrease the unemployment bias for people with disabilities.

All candidates must be high school students who are living with a disability and plan to attend a two or four year university or college program. Further, they must maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA and have declared a major from the approved list in the scholarship guidelines on the application.  

For more information on applying for the scholarship see the Scholarship Description on Microsoft’s site.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) just released a new study on health-care transition and employment. Because an individual’s ability to manage their health is critical to going to school, learning, and transitioning into employment, ODEP commissioned this study in 2012 to better understand the relationship between disability (including chronic health conditions); health and wellness; and transition and employment outcomes for youth with disabilities. Moreover, the study examined the role health-care providers play in establishing employment expectation.

Read the full policy brief on Health-Care Transition and Employment

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