To provide assistance with a disability hiring initiative at roasting plant and distribution sites.
A Starbucks Inclusion Academy—a model originally piloted in a distribution center in Carson Valley, NV—was successfully established at Starbucks’ largest roasting plant (York, PA) with the first class of graduates hired by Starbucks. Starbucks Inclusion Academy is a unique on-the-job six-week training program that helps people with disabilities gain meaningful work experience in manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution. Working at three facilities, NOD trained more than 600 supervisors and staff on working with individuals with disabilities; created a network of partners, such as the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in York, to provide an ongoing candidate pipeline; and developed protocols to make sure that suppliers understand the company’s needs and provide effective onboarding of candidates.
“Not only was NOD able to provide training for Starbucks supervisors at our York Roasting Plant on how to manage individuals with disabilities, they helped us to quickly identify the most appropriate sourcing agencies and worked with those agencies to ensure they understood our workforce needs. NOD was an invaluable partner in helping us launch the Starbucks Inclusion Academy.”
Deverl Maserang | EVP of Global Supply Chain Operations, Starbucks
Learn from our findings about the career interests and support needs of severely injured veterans, particularly those with post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Sponsored by the Institute for Economic Empowerment/AbilityOne at NISH.
While the Americans with Disabilities Act has helped close many gaps, employment is not one of them
July 19, 2018 | Carol Glazer, President, National Organization on Disability and Jesse Fryburg, Program Manager, National Organization on Disability
On July 26, 1990, the president of the United States looked into a television camera on the South Lawn of the White House and proclaimed that the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “signals the end to the unjustified segregation and exclusion of persons with disabilities from the mainstream of American life.” Twenty-eight years later, it has not.
The keystone of the American ethos is that anyone, through work ethic and perseverance, can achieve success. We believe in bootstraps and self-efficacy, beliefs that have guided public policy and formed the fabric of our culture. Here, you get what you earn.
Americans with disabilities are no different. We want no special treatment, only the opportunity to work and strive for success. And while the ADA has helped close many gaps, employment is not one of them. The current labor force participation rate of working-age people with disabilities in the United States is 20 percent, compared to 69 percent for those without a disability. How do we explain this?
Certainly, the ADA was a transformative policy achievement. It physically reshaped American communities by opening inaccessible spaces to people with disabilities, from office buildings to restaurants to the chambers of Congress. It built on the Civil Rights Act, making disability a protected class and giving the community recourse within our legal system. And perhaps most important, it gestured that no one should be stripped, due to a disability, of their inherent personhood and the birthrights which we hold so dear: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This, the bill’s most spectacular ambition, is where it has fallen most flat. Because culture cannot be legislated, nor can full inclusion.
People with disabilities have for so long been excluded from mainstream life that we, as a society, simply don’t understand them. As a result, we fall prey to the tyranny of low expectations, leading to euphemisms like special and exceptional to describe people. And although this language sounds benevolent, it is detrimental in practice. People with disabilities don’t want to be held to a different standard. We can — and want — to do the same jobs at the same levels for the same pay as anyone else; we just occasionally get there in different ways.
At companies hiring people with disabilities, their performance ratings are equal to those of their peers. They help companies tap into a trillion-dollar consumer market. They are problem solvers and doers. They are assets.
The ADA has removed a great number of barriers for people with disabilities, but not all steps can be bridged with ramps, and not all walls toppled with hammers. We are the carriers and arbiters of our culture, and it is upon each of us to consider the ways that we think about, talk about and interact with people with disabilities. Are we afraid of difference, or can we embrace it as strength? Because until every American is allowed to realize their full potential, none of us will.
National Organization on Disability Releases Disability Inclusion Data from Nearly 200 Companies as ADA Anniversary Approaches
(NEW YORK) July 19, 2018: As the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act approaches on July 26, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) today released findings from its corporate assessment, the Disability Employment Tracker™. Offered annually, this free and confidential tool provides companies with essential benchmarking data to measure their disability and veterans’ inclusion performance. Among the aggregate findings is evidence that more companies want to diversify their workforce by hiring talent with disabilities, but many are struggling to attract new employees who identify as having disabilities.
The release of the Tracker data on this anniversary reminds us of the promise of the ADA—that Americans with disabilities can equally participate in all aspects of life, including the workforce. During a White House signing ceremony in 1990, NOD Honorary Chairman President George H.W. Bush said business holds the key to the ultimate success of the ADA by unlocking a “resource of untapped human potential.” NOD President Carol Glazer says, despite major gains, that vision has not yet fully materialized all these years later.
“Experience has proven it is not a lack of will. These companies have good intentions, but fall short on execution,” said Glazer. “There’s a disconnect between wanting to build a disability-inclusive workforce—and having the right tools and techniques to recruit and retain this growing diversity segment.”
According to the 2018 Tracker’s survey of nearly 200 employers, which together employ over 8.9 million workers, the average workforce representation of employees identifying as having a disability is only 3.9 percent—far below the U.S. Department of Labor target of 7 percent. In fact, only 12 percent of companies reported meeting the target.
Across the various channels that companies are using to source candidates with disabilities, the Tracker found that utilization rates were much greater than the rates of resultant hires. For example, while approximately 73 percent of employers are using disability-specific job boards to advertise openings to the disability community, only 36 percent of companies have actually hired candidates through this particular channel. The gap could be attributed to companies’ lack of knowledge about leading practices in disability inclusion, which go a long way in making an employer attractive to this talent pool.
Glazer added that many employers are new to embedding disability inclusion within their overall diversity strategy and may need expert assistance to make recruiting and retaining employees with disabilities successful. “Organizations like NOD can help companies improve their practices, policies and culture to become an employer of choice for talent with disabilities,” Glazer said.
The Tracker found that only 62 percent of companies perform an assessment of their current disability inclusion efforts, potentially leading to missteps and missed opportunities when planning future efforts. “For companies unsure of where to start, using the Tracker self-assessment is a good first step to find out how your policies and practices stack up—and importantly, it’s completely free and confidential,” Glazer continued.
Those companies that have made a dedicated commitment to disability inclusion are leading the way—and it shows. The Tracker analyzed what the top performing employers, those with a total disability workforce representation of 4 percent or greater, had in common and having a strategic disability inclusion plan, driven by an internal champion, was key.
Glazer notes that people with disabilities bring value to the workplace through their perseverance and problem-solving skills. “When people spend their entire lives solving problems in a world that wasn’t built for them, that’s an attribute that can be translated into innovation and high productivity in the workforce,” she said.
NOD is excited to welcome our three summer interns. Although this is only our third year of onboarding interns, we have truly benefited from their fresh perspective and excitement to learn. We are dedicated to helping our interns build upon their current skillsets by engaging in high priority projects. They have consistently proved to be exemplary additions to our team. Learn more about them here:
Alan A. Reich Intern
William was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and is the eldest boy of a family of eight. As a child, he was able to accomplish his dream of becoming a professional dancer. William worked in the industry for over thirteen years. He has traveled extensively to Europe, Asia, South and Central America, as well as, Canada and throughout the States. He has performed with Toronto Dance Theatre, Ballet Hispanico of New York, Elisa Monte Dance Co. as well as other companies. Due to an acquired disability, he was forced to give up his dream. William managed to remain active and worked as a flight attendant for companies such as, Northwest Airlines, US Airways, Tower Air, and Primaris Airlines. He was an inflight instructor for Primaris, teaching potential flight attendants in Turkey, Trinidad, and New York. William is excited to be a part of the National Organization on Disability’s family for the summer.
Education: William graduated Summa Cum Laude in May 2018 from CUNY’s Lehman College with a Bachelor of Arts and departmental honors. He majored in Sociology with a concentration in Urban Studies, Inequality, and Education. William also attended The Borough of Manhattan Community College where he earned his Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts studies. He is affiliated with Phi Theta Kappa, CUNY’s Golden Key International Honor Society, and Alpha Kappa Delta. He is the recipient of CUNY’s Mathew Goldstein Scholarship and Lehman College’s Hausknecht Award for Sociology.
Favorite Part of the Internship: The excitement of reporting to work and facing challenges on a daily basis is William’s favorite part of interning with the National Organization on Disability. The organization does a wonderful job in making him feel welcome.
What He Hopes to Gain from the Experience: William hopes to gain valuable office experience and insight into the workings of a non-profit organization.
Future Goals: William’s goal is to return to school in 2019 and attain a Master’s Degree in Social Work. In the interim, he is currently seeking employment in the social service sector and would enjoy doing advocacy work for those who feel they are not able to find their voice and rightful place in life.
NOD found Deanna through our Campus to Careers program. Deanna is from Carver, Massachusetts. She has spent her whole life advocating for people with disabilities, as her little brother was diagnosed with autism a few years after birth. Since she was 12, she has been involved in the disability community as a teaching assistant for a small, therapeutic school for students in grades 5-12. She attended high school at Milton Academy, an independent school in Milton, Massachusetts. In her sophomore year of high school, she was diagnosed with a learning disability. Immersed in a school environment in which disability was adequately supported, but not frequently discussed, she began to look at her academic career in a whole new light, devoting more time to understanding the most effective way for her to learn. The addition of this new label to her identity was pivotal in how she thought about herself and her accomplishments. Now, she prides herself on the big impact that she has made on the disability community at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she is enrolled. This past semester, she interned in the Assistive Technology Center, where she created an accessible handbook of all the assistive tools that are offered to UMass Amherst students. By disclosing her whole identity, she hopes to empower people to do the same. This summer is her first time living in New York City, and she is excited to explore the many unique opportunities.
Education: Deanna is a rising junior in the Commonwealth Honors College of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a candidate for a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, minor in Education, and certificate in Developmental Disabilities & Human Services.
Favorite Part of the Internship: Deanna’s favorite part of the internship is how she has been assigned tasks that are individualized to her strengths and interests. She has particularly enjoyed staying up to date on news pertaining to the disability community and bringing her college-student perspective to the Campus to Careers program.
What She Hopes to Gain from the Experience: Deanna hopes to learn more about the process of building and executing a public awareness campaign, particularly surrounding the branding, funding, and creative development.
Future Goals: After completing her undergraduate degree, Deanna hopes to continue her education to obtain a Doctorate Degree in School Psychology or Disability Studies. Deanna ultimately aspires to work at an independent secondary school advocating for students with learning disabilities.
Returning NOD Intern
This is Ansley’s third summer as an intern for NOD. Ansley was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2001. Only several months old, her family moved to New Jersey where she was raised alongside her siblings. Ansley was four when her younger brother, Braden, was born. It was soon discovered that Braden was born with Down syndrome, a common genetic disorder. Having little experience and involvement with the disability community, Ansley and her family would embark on a new endeavor of uncharted territory. Throughout childhood, Ansley and Braden developed an everlasting bond that would provide Ansley with the immeasurable drive and momentum that pushed her to get involved as an advocate and activist for disability inclusion. Growing up with Braden, Ansley has approached life in a unique way, and this has given her qualities such as patience, compassion, and kindness. Ansley is a Student Ambassador-Mentor for the Arc of Essex County, the Junior Board Fundraising and Community Outreach President for the Candle Lighters, and participates in many clubs offered at her school, including the Special Olympics Program. Ansley, now approaching her senior year of high school, plans to be a student volunteer for the Special Education program of Madison High School.
Education: Ansley will be a graduate of the Class of 2019 at Madison High School in Madison, New Jersey. She is looking to attend a highly competitive university where she can further her education and continue to develop the strengths and qualities of a well-rounded individual.
Favorite Part of the Internship: Ansley’s favorite part of the internship is the invaluable experience she has gained as a result of working in an office throughout her time in high school. Her several summers with NOD have allowed Ansley to expand upon her role each summer, taking on new tasks and roles within the office. The independence, interactions with others in the office, and job experience have provided Ansley with the tools she needs to confidently enter college, participate in future internships, and excel in the workplace.
What She Hopes to Gain from the Experience: Ansley seeks growth of her job experience, maturity, and overall character development. She plans to use the tools she has learned at NOD to advance in college and the workplace.
Future Goals: Ansley is looking to obtain an undergraduate degree in business and later attend law school. She is considering minoring in political science due to her interest in U.S. government and politics. After furthering her education, Ansley hopes to enter a competitive work environment where she can use the skills she has acquired and create change in the world. Ansley sees herself continuing her involvement alongside individuals of all abilities and advocating for equal opportunity, acceptance, and inclusion for all.
The NOD team is excited to help William, Deanna, and Ansley reach their goals this summer, and we cannot wait to see what else they bring to their positions.
Takeaways from the NOD Corporate Leadership Council Executive Luncheon
On the 20th of June the National Organization on Disability held its Corporate Leadership Council executive luncheon titled “Bringing Our Whole Selves to Work: Harnessing the Power of Difference by Uncovering Invisible Diversity Traits.” Presented in partnership with The LGBTQ Community Center, representatives from over 45 companies attended this exclusive event that spotlighted how corporate cultures can welcome unseen diversity segments, like LGBT identities and non-apparent disabilities, such as mental illness. Sarah Mikhail, Executive Director of the LGBTQ center highlighted that “Sarah Mikhail, Executive Director of the LGBTQ center highlighted that “there is no such thing as a single because we do not live single issue lives.” We are all a combination of many things which impact our daily living.
Set the tone from the top down
Panelists Nora Vele Executive Director, Global Diversity & Inclusion of Merck; Eric Mitchel Associate Vice President, Human Resources of AT&T; and James Mahoney Executive Director & Head of Autism at Work at JPMorgan Chase & Co., shared insights and leading practices to support employees with invisible diversity traits in the workplace. The panel encouraged self-identification and disclosure of disabilities by managers, supervisor and higher management as a way to inspire a safer environment for employees to also self-identify and request accommodations if necessary. It has been proven that those whom disclose their disability to employers are more productive than employees that chose to mask their true selves.
Cultivate trust to boost disability self-ID rates
When asked what was being done within each organization to promote harnessing the power of difference while bringing your whole selves to work, Ms. Vele stated that in creating a culture of inclusion for people with disabilities, Merck began with their employee resource group (ERG) and focused on eight aspects—one being the importance of self-identification. Merck found by using infographics they were able to increase the amount of employees whom chose to self-identify. Merck also created “A Day in the Life of an Employee” to help promote awareness of a fellow employees discussing their disabilities while filming them at work and home. Ms. Vele shares that companies become more enlightened when employees are listened to and feel cared for—and companies can reap increased productivity when employees can free up ‘emotional real estate’ by disclosing their full identities at work.
Disclosure can reveal supportive networks
Carol Glazer, President of the National Organization on Disability engaged in a fireside chat with Lisa Lucchese, Global Head of External Reporting Operations & Co-Executive Sponsor of Access Ability, Mid-Atlantic, JPMorgan Chase & Co. Ms. Lucchese shared her experiences and challenges navigating understanding and disclosing her mental health diagnosis in the workplace. Ms. Lucchesse makes clear that because someone has a diagnosis it doesn’t mean it’s easier, it just means they have more information to work with [to understand the supports needed to succeed].” It was through focusing on her career that she was able to feel normal. “The harder we work the more normal we feel,” she contends. When asked how disclosure helped her as a worker, she shared that now she can talk to people about her own experiences and her own realizations. Emphasizing the importance of being true to yourself, she shared that when faced with hardship, an opportunity to make the biggest changes in one’s life may also presents itself. “Having a network encourages you, and honestly, you want to do more.” Bringing your whole self to work creates creativity, enhances ability, builds resiliency and develops empathy; it’s a winning formula.
Tackle stigma head on to succeed
Eric Mitchell spoke about how AT&T branded their health insurance as “Bringing Your Healthy Self to Work.” They believe that not disclosing a disability causes a stress—that’s largely avoidable, so they’ve launched a campaign for employees to sign a pledge, take a photo and share their disability as a way to help stamp out the stigma of mental illness. In addition, they have created a webcast entitled, “Everything is not fine: I may look o.k. but you don’t know what is going on under the surface,” to inspire and promote authenticity around mental health. A year later a second version followed: “Everything is still not fine” took on a more pronounced stance on ensuring employees were comfortable disclosing a mental illness—which proved to be even more successful. Sharing personal stories is a powerful tactic, so finding ways bring your organization’s stories to life can encourage employees to be authentic regarding their disability.
Get outside of your comfort zone
James Mahoney of JPMorgan Chase & Co. spoke about their innovative program to hire candidates with autism, which touts a high success rate in terms of productivity and integration. Regarding their aptitude in visual detail, these new hires with autism were equal in quality to their peers and 48 percent faster. “Today we are at 95 people in a dozen locations and in 25 different roles,” states Mr. Mahoney speaking JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s employees who are on the autism spectrum. The firm has designed, along with their office of disability inclusion, new techniques for this cohort in terms of recruitment, onboarding, and integration well up to retirement. Mr. Mahoney stresses the importance of thinking outside of one’s comfort zone with the understanding that it is healthy for people to challenge your perspective.
Take action to advance a culture of authenticity
“After all is said and done, let there be more done then said,” shared moderator Karen Brown, Global Diversity & Inclusion Executive & Advisor. This insightful quote was a rallying cry for all to take a proactive approach to improving the culture of inclusion within the workforce. Ms. Brown spoke on the importance of being authentic, saying: “authenticity is a daily practice of letting go of who we think we should be or who we’re supposed to be.”
The executive luncheon sought to chart solutions to common corporate challenges, providing the attendees with useful tools to promote diversity, inclusion, and harness the power of difference within their own companies. Ultimately, trust and authenticity are key especially in bringing your company’s message around disability inclusion and mental wellness to life.
Don’t miss the next discussion—join the NOD Corporate Leadership Council today. Learn more at NOD.org/council.
Jennifer Muschette worked her whole life. She moved from Jamaica to New York when she was 19 and started taking factory jobs, working in home health care. In 2007, she found work doing housekeeping for a nursing home. It had benefits and a pension. She thought she was going to retire from that job.
“I was having so much issues at work where days I was able to go into work and, you know, my body just start just aching sometimes I couldn’t even get up,” Muschette said.
She was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis in her spine and, suddenly, the working life she knew was over.
“The job that I used to do nobody wants you to come to work and can’t function you know,” said Muschette.
She’s been on disability ever since. Muschette is 62 now, and improving economy or not, the options she has to change her life feel limited.
“Get a rich husband?” she offers, but takes it back quickly. “No, not a husband honey. I was married once and that was it.”
She does her best to keep the bills paid, between social security checks and some help from family, but she worries about her son’s future. He’s 16.
“He wants to go to college. I don’t have a college fund,” said Muschette.
Saving for the future is just not something that’s happening. She doesn’t like not working, but she worries about losing what stability she does have.
“Because if I go out there and start working, and I get sick in two weeks, I’m not going to get anything. I’ll probably end up losing my social security. Jeopardizing what I’m getting to go get an extra 200 dollars,” Muschette said, throwing up her hands up.
Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability, made a similar point.
“In some aspects, it can be an irrational decision to accept a job offer when you’re having to walk away from those benefits,” Glazer said.
There are state and federal programs that try to help people connect with employers who will take on workers with disabilities. But depending on what kind of federal help you’ve been getting, keeping on top of all the requirements can be a challenge.
Curtis Rodgers works in the Benefits Navigator program in Atlanta’s Shepherd Center. It’s his job to help people figure out the balance of working and getting benefits. He believes the system can work, if folks have the right information, which he acknowledges isn’t always the case.
“Their primary practice at social security is not disability. So social security doesn’t really send out this information or give it to people in a way that’s helpful,” said Rodgers. “For some people, having to act on that information is like having a second job, because it’s a lot of stuff that you have to keep up with.”
Curtis says if someone messes up their reporting to social security, it can take anywhere from a couple months to the better part of a year to get back on track. The potential for getting tangled up is real.
On top of those basic challenges, in Muschette’s case you can add tragedy. The June day we met happens to be the third anniversary of her son’s death. He was 19 when he was shot and killed walking down the street.
She says it’s always on her mind. The grief has changed her.
“My house is not kept the way that I like my house kept. And I get sometimes I eat just I don’t sleep most of the time,” she said.
Piling on mental health issues can make searching for a job even tougher.
Glazer says four out of five working-aged Americans with disabilities don’t have jobs. And while back to work programs are helping, the path is smoother for some than others.
“In a white collar job, it’s a lot easier for someone who is living close to the margin and has always worked in blue collar jobs. There’s no question about it,” said Glazer.
Physical work is all Muschette’s really ever done, and she misses the structure. To get out of the house, she volunteers at her local food pantry in Covington.
“I came to get food and I never left,” she said, cutting into some boxes.
It’s low stress. She likes the people there. It’s just not getting her closer to paying for college.