Margaret Ling, NOD’s Event & Administrative Associate, received a citation this week for her work while Vice Chair of City University of New York’s Coalition for Students with Disabilities (CCSD).
The citation is an acknowledgement of New York residents who dedicate their efforts to advocating and serving the disability community.
Michael Miller, Michael Simanowitz, and Aravella Simotas, representatives from the New York State Assembly, awarded Ms. Ling and the CCSD executive board members with the citation. In addition, Dr. Christopher Rosa, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, City University of New York, was in attendance at the ADA anniversary event, held at Queens College.
Photo includes: Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and NOD’s Margaret Ling.
Photo includes: Michael Miller, Michael Simanowitz and Aravella Simotas of the New York State Assembly, with Samantha Wong, Chair of CCSD, and Dr. Christopher Rosa, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, City University of New York.
Photo includes: Executive board and members of CCSD with members of New York State Assembly and Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, City University of New York.
Johnson & Johnson, CSC, and Mondelēz Join Corporate Leadership Body Committed to Building a Disability Inclusive Workforce
NEW YORK (July 28, 2016) – The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is pleased to welcome three prominent companies to its Corporate Leadership Council – a group of companies who distinguish themselves as leaders in diversity and employers of choice for people with disabilities.
The Corporate Leadership Council welcomes Johnson & Johnson to the President’s Circle, as well as CSC and Mondelēz to its Corporate Circle. With these latest Corporate Leadership Council additions, NOD is now proud to count 36 companies as members, including six lead partners: DiversityInc, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Prudential Financial; S&P Global; Sirota Consulting; and the UPS Foundation.
“The National Organization on Disability is delighted to welcome these prominent companies to its Corporate Leadership Council. Membership sends a powerful message to consumers who interact with these brands that they take disability inclusion seriously,” said Gov. Tom Ridge, Chairman of NOD. “With their membership these leading companies commit to building a workforce that reflects the diversity of their consumers. On behalf of everyone at NOD, we thank our new members for their commitment and unwavering support in expanding employment opportunities for people with disabilities.”
“Because so many corporate leaders with titles other than CEO have been keenly active participants whose contributions we wish to honor, NOD has proudly renamed our Corporate Leadership Council, known earlier as the CEO Council,” Gov. Ridge added. In addition to this expanded network, Corporate Leadership Council member companies receive a range of benefits, including:
Special access to NOD experts in disability employment and inclusion
Exclusive networking events with C-suite business and government leaders and opportunities to learn from corporate peers about leading practices in disability inclusion
National visibility for your commitment to disability employment through NOD’s communications channels
Unique insight into corporate trends and leading practices in disability inclusion through NOD’s yearlong agenda of learning forums, both in-person and virtual, and publications
One-on-one fast track consulting with NOD disability employment experts
Members Only pricing on any of NOD’s suite of Professional Services
Our society should tell people with disabilities they can work and live equally
Twenty four years ago my son, Jacob, was born with hydrocephalus, or water on the brain. After several surgeries, doctors told us Jacob would be living with both physical and intellectual disabilities. They also told us not to expect much of Jacob in terms of his ability to participate in civic life, community life and in work. And they plunged us into what I now call the “The Tyranny of Low Expectations.”
All these years later when people speak to Jacob, they still infantilize him, speaking slowly, avoiding big words, as if he’s a toddler. It may not seem like a big deal, but for people with disabilities and their families, it is among the largest challenges we face. Like Jacob, it starts early in life for someone born with a disability, or after acquiring a disability for those who do so later in life. The bar on expectations for that person is often set so low by doctors, teachers, friends and even families that the person with a disability lives with artificially low ceilings.
The reasons for the tyranny of low expectations are rooted in our societal approach to disability, which has historically been viewed as a problem to be fixed (and in many cases feared or isolated), versus a natural part of the human condition that each of us is likely to encounter in our lives. In the past, people with intellectual disabilities were sent away from their families to institutions, where they would not be threats to public safety. I shudder when I think how, if Jacob had been born only 20 years earlier, he’d likely have been taken away from me.
We’ve also viewed disability as a problem whose responsibility to find solutions rests with the individual, not with the community or our collective society. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act 26 years ago this week effectively declared that people with disabilities had a right to participate in all aspects of life, in their community and the workplace. And our society—our builders, our bosses and our brethren—has to provide reasonable accommodations to enable people with disabilities to participate.
But we have not yet raised that low-set bar on expectations that means most Americans with a disability receive a continuous flood of signals—some intentional, some not—that tell us that we cannot really expect to work, or learn or participate equally.
How do these signals manifest themselves? As children, while the special education system teaches independent living or “life skills” (like cooking, personal hygiene and travel training), far too little attention is given to skills that can be used in the workforce. It’s no wonder then that only aboutone in five working-age Americans with disabilities is employed. The public benefits system—despite efforts at reform—reinforces the expectation that people with disabilities aren’t expected to work; and an outdated statute from 1938 means that people with disabilities can still be paid less than minimum wage to perform menial tasks in a segregated work setting. Proposed new federal legislation aims to remedy that problem, but it has yet to pass.
Every parent hopes that his or her child will become independent, contributing members of their communities, leading full and productive lives, using and being rewarded for their full talents and abilities. We set expectations for them and they rise to the occasion—but we must be mindful of the expectations that we are instilling.
Those who set the early expectations for people with disabilities—parents, school administrators, employers and neighbors—usually have the best of intentions. Nevertheless, many unwittingly engage in the tyranny of low expectations, seeing deficits, not strengths. Disability, not ability. And people with disabilities pick up those messages. When the world doesn’t expect much of you, it’s hard to expect much of yourself. It’s hard to believe in yourself when others don’t. I always tried to hold the bar high for Jacob—and still do—and today he proudly works a part-time job where he gets a paycheck and feels valued for his work.
Those of us with a personal experience of disability know that people with disabilities possess unique problem-solving skills, tenacity, resilience and creativity. Employers must understand the benefits of a diverse society that uses the talents of its citizens to full advantage. We must change attitudes and see strengths—not limitations. We must convert pity to high expectations and help corporate America to recognize promising talent.
More than ever before, people with disabilities are present throughout American society—carrying on our daily lives as workers, consumers, students, neighbors and volunteers—and contributing greatly to our national and community life. But America still has a long way to go to close the gaps in levels of participation between people with and without disabilities. We can start by raising our expectations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is 26-years-old. And today, federal contractors are showing early progress in hiring people with disabilities.
It was about this time three years ago that U.S. federal contractors learned of new rules from the Labor Department concerning the employment of qualified workers with disabilities and protected veterans. The new rules, the business community was told, would update 40-year-old federal policies to enhance job opportunities for people with disabilities and veterans. It represented the first time the federal government would create specific metrics to measure federal contractors’ progress toward achieving equal employment opportunity. With approximately 1 out of 4 U.S. companies being a federal contractor, this was a big deal.
So three years later, it’s worth asking: How are things working out?
I will admit to having had some conflicting thoughts at the outset. On the one hand, I sympathized with the business community, which raised valid concerns about aggressive new employment targets. There had never been a requirement for employers to hire a certain percentage of veterans or people with disabilities – now they were being told the goal would be 7 percent.
But as chair of the National Organization on Disability, I also knew that, as a society, we must do more to find ways to connect talented men and women with disabilities to job opportunities. The unemployment rate for these Americans remains far too high, despite the fact that employers – once they have taken steps to hire people with disabilities – report that those people consistently rank among their best workers. Our success in the global economy depends, more than ever, on how well we inspire and put to use the talent and energies of every person in this country – every talent, every skill, every ability. That is why the National Organization on Disability was created – to see to it that no ability is wasted, and that everyone has a full and equal chance to play a part in our national progress.
In a conversation I had with President George H.W. Bush last year, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said it best when he told me it simply comes down to those who have the jobs giving these workers a chance. It is worth noting that when Bush – a proud conservative – signed the ADA into law on July 26, 1990, he specifically challenged the business community, saying they alone held the key for unlocking the success of the ADA.
At the end of the day, I was able to set aside any apprehensions I held largely because of the good work done by the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. To their credit, OFCCP listened to the concerns of contractors and provided additional time to implement the new requirements. And they decreased an employer’s burden on record keeping, too. They were smart to work in partnership with the business community to find solutions.
I’m pleased to report that we already are beginning to see signs of progress. Slow and incremental for sure, but progress nonetheless. The National Organization on Disability recently shared new data from its 2016 Disability Employment Tracker. The survey showed 16 percent of respondents have achieved the 7 percent utilization goal, up from just 9 percent in 2015. What’s more, the study revealed that in contrast to previous years, three quarters of 2016 respondents – 78 percent of which are federal contractors – currently track the number of employees with disabilities that have been hired in the past year. It’s also worth noting that 20 percent of companies who took the tracker assessment are not federal contractors, which signals the new federal regulations may be offering guidance to the noncontractor business community, which would be welcome news.
I had hoped after several years we might have seen even greater results. But we knew this was a process that would take time. Despite some initial concerns, I strongly believe it is an investment in time worth making. Tens of millions of working-age Americans with disabilities are able and eager to work. By joining forces with employers and the 24 million working-age Americans with disabilities who are not working, we can harness the talent of every willing worker and vastly expand the productive power of the national labor force.
Each year at this time, those of us who work in the disability space take a very serious look at our progress to fulfill the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination in all areas of public life for America’s 56 million individuals with disabilities. It has been nearly three decades since the ADA’s passage on July 26, 1990, and people with disabilities have seen progress made to increase their access to education, transportation and public places, but, notably, employment is still a hurdle to many.
When he signed the ADA into law, President George H.W. Bush very publicly challenged the business community to welcome people with disabilities into their workplaces, and he reflected on that call to action in a poignant exchange with Governor Tom Ridge, chairman of the National Organization in Disability (NOD), on the occasion of the ADA’s 25th anniversary last year.
Still today, 24 million working-age Americans with disabilities are not employed. The next step in our progress to realize the ADA is clear: ensure that people with disabilities enjoy full opportunity for employment, enterprise and earnings, and that employers know how to put their talents to work. For us at NOD, that means innovating scalable and sustainable disability employment models that marry the talent needs of corporate America with the skills of working-aged Americans with disabilities.
And the reality is that companies face a lot of challenges today that can be solved by building a culture of inclusion at work and employing talent with disabilities. From emerging market developments and changing consumer demands, companies must evolve to remain competitive. On top of that, between now and 2024, American industry will need 47 million new workers to replace retiring Baby Boomers and respond to growing industry sectors. In my many conversations with corporate leaders, there is no question these are pressing issues.
To succeed in the face of these challenges, companies need resiliency, adaptability, and a future-oriented perspective to anticipate what tomorrow’s customer wants. But how can global companies foster and deploy these skills to meet consumer preference and drive value?
The answer—in large part—lies in talent development, with the men and women, who at every level of the organization, embody and enact the core values of the organization. Companies that can retain talent, with sought-after competencies such as problem solving, innovation and adaptability, will have the most success in meeting the constantly evolving demands of the 21st century marketplace.
And due to living in a world that wasn’t built for them, many of the millions of working-age Americans with disabilities have already honed these skills. Studies across the board show that workers with disabilities are loyal, dedicated, have few absences and last longer on the job.
As many of us know, attracting the best talent is closely linked with creating a progressive and inclusive corporate culture—including welcoming employees with disabilities. Robust diversity & inclusion practices have a positive effect on employee recruiting and retention across the entire workforce and are appealing to consumers. Ultimately, companies will see the benefits in their bottom-line.
Just look to Giant Eagle. The Pittsburgh-based grocery giant tapped NOD’s expertise to help them bring in talent with disabilities and enhance their overall corporate culture. Their company-wide commitment to inclusion is paying off—and Giant Eagle is reaping the benefits of skilled workers, improved morale among all employees, and growing consumer preference for their brand.
In looking back 26 years after President Bush signed this historic legislation, it’s clear to me and our corporate clients like Lowe’s, PwC and J.P. Morgan Chase that fulfilling the ADA’s promise of equal employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities is not an act of ‘charity.’ It’s a solution for leading companies whose success in the global economy depends, more than ever, on the quality of their workforce. From our perspective—and the businesses we serve—it’s a win-win.
###Gov. Tom Ridge calls on businesses to tap into the talents people with disabilities offer###
WASHINGTON, DC (July 13, 2016) – Today, Gov. Tom Ridge, Chairman of the National Organization on Disability, spoke with Fox Business about the many benefits Americans with disabilities are offering to the business community.
“One of the highest priorities in corporate America for the next 20 years is filling millions and millions of vacancies due to retirement and due to the new jobs that will be created in this economy.”
“There is a huge, vast, untapped pool of 24 million working aged Americans that have disabilities…. And if you hire an employee [with a disability, you’ll retain] a loyal employee with less absenteeism, great productivity, and good safety records. So we say to corporate America, if you want to fill vacancies in the future, hire Americans with disabilities.”
Latest Disability Employment Tracker™ from the National Organization on Disability Reveals Mixed Results on the Hiring of American Veterans
NEW YORK (July 12, 2016) – While new data from the National Organization on Disability (NOD) shows companies are increasingly tracking the veteran status of their employees and referencing veterans in their diversity policies, the reality is only one in four companies who responded to the annual survey have reached a 7% veteran employment target established by the U.S. Department of Labor. The remaining 75% still have work to do in order to achieve those hiring goals for America’s veterans, according to data from NOD’s 2016 Disability Employment Tracker™ survey.
“The Tracker data tells us that many employers are doing the right things, like establishing veteran-specific employee resource groups and using their human resource information systems to better track the number of veterans in their workforce,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “But for many companies, it’s not necessarily translating to hiring enough veterans. We know from NOD’s partnership with the Army, through our Wounded Warrior Careers program, that hiring veterans, who often arrive at the workplace with both visible and invisible disabilities, takes a concerted, systematic effort. That’s why we make available free toolkits for employers to help them both hire and retain veterans with disabilities.”
Resources available at www.NOD.org include an Employers Guide for Welcoming Veterans and Service Members Home and Tools for America’s Best, among other research-based materials.
The Disability Employment Tracker™ is a free tool for employers to confidentially assess their disability and veteran inclusion practices. Survey respondents receive a free and customized Disability Employment Tracker™ Scorecard that provides key benchmarks and leading practices in disability employment. The Tracker represents a diverse cross-section of U.S.-based employers, including:
41% Fortune 500 companies
78% Federal contractors
95% of all companies completed the optional veterans section
Representation from finance, manufacturing, healthcare services/pharmaceutical, commercial/professional services, technology and equipment, food/agriculture, and many others
28% > 50,000
34% between 10,000 & 50,000
13% between 1,000 & 10,000
25% < 1,000
Among the key veteran-related findings from the 2016 Disability Employment Tracker™:
The number of companies referencing veterans in their diversity policies continues to grow (89% vs. 72% in 2014)
Use of veteran-specific employee resource groups remains strong (68%)
More and more companies are tracking the number of veterans in their workforce, with nearly 90% of respondents tracking veteran status in their HRIS
Only about a quarter of 2016 respondents report 7% of employees identify as veterans