Like John Fetterman, I suffered a stroke. Watching him isn’t ‘painful’ – it’s inspiring.

His performance was a courageous example of a person rising above, willing to suffer indignities from people trying to take advantage of his disability as well as simply cruel and ignorant people.

Luke Visconti, Opinion contributor
I was completely ignorant about strokes and stroke recovery – until I had one at age 54.

I had no precedent conditions. My stroke – not unlike the one suffered by Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman five months ago – came out of the blue.

Living in Florida, I can’t say I have been closely tracking Fetterman’s brave campaign against celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz. But I sure took notice last week of their first televised debate and the shameful way the Oz campaign – and many of those who support him – have belittled and bullied Fetterman.

I learned that Oz’s senior communications adviser has said, “If John Fetterman had ever eaten a vegetable in his life, then maybe he wouldn’t have had a major stroke and wouldn’t be in the position of having to lie about it constantly.”

I’ve also learned that his campaign, upon Fetterman initially declining to debate Oz in September as he worked to regain his ability to speak with authority, released what is clearly a mocking list of concessions they would make to get Fetterman to debate. It’s shameful.

Fetterman is stronger than most

As I watched Fetterman’s debate performance, I did so with great pride and admiration.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Fetterman is clearly stronger than most people. Average people are often crushed by the circumstances he’s fighting to rise above. I don’t think it was “painful” to watch him in his debate, as some have suggested. It was a courageous example of a person rising above an obstacle in his path, willing to suffer indignities from people trying to take advantage of his disability as well as simply cruel and ignorant people.

Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman participates in the Senate debate in Harrisburg on Oct. 25, 2022.

Equating an auditory processing disorder, or what others might describe as aphasia, with a lack of intelligence or cognition is commonplace and bigotry. This type of bullying cannot be accepted. The fact that anyone would leverage a widely held misconception for political gain, especially a medical doctor, is disgusting.

The sad truth is that ignorant criticism of Fetterman’s disabilities are bound to intimidate others with disabilities. The loss of their productivity already has a demonstrable impact on our gross domestic product. People with disabilities have the lowest labor participation rate of any group.

At the National Organization on Disability, we collect data from hundreds of companies to help improve human capital management of people with disabilities. Our mission is to help people with disabilities who want work to find it – and to help their employers maximize the potential, productivity and innovation of their entire workforce.

Helping people with disabilities move forward

Inhospitable work environments, transit and building facilities as well as belittling or bullying people with disabilities cause low labor participation rates of people with disabilities. It also destabilizes families. Gaining an advantage by expressing an “opinion” borne of ignorance (purposeful or not) is not harmless – it’s cruel and inexcusable.

It takes hard work to overcome a stroke, especially if there are visible signs and/or pain. It’s not hard to imagine why many people give up, and indeed, half of stroke survivors don’t return to work.

With almost 200,000 Americans under 65 having a stroke every year, this is not only a tragedy for those people and their families; it’s a major economic problem.

John Fetterman has demonstrated himself to be a fighter – a man with courage, drive and a remarkable lack of self-pity. He also must have a great support system around him, especially a supportive and loving family. I couldn’t have come back without my family, especially my wife, and my then chief operating officer, who is now my CEO.

No matter how one feels about his political opinions, I think having leaders who have overcome substantial challenges with enough humility to expose themselves to public scrutiny encourage and embolden others who face challenges. Even if the Senate candidate doesn’t win on Nov. 8, Pennsylvanians should be proud of Lt. Gov. Fetterman – a leader with grit.

People have told me that I’m a nicer person since my stroke. I certainly know I’m more perceptive and empathetic. Don’t we all need more empathy?

Luke Visconti, the founder of DiversityInc., is chairman of the National Organization on Disability. 

NOD President Carol Glazer Recognized  as One of Women’s eNews 21st Century Honorees for 2022

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

NEW YORK, NY (October 26, 2022) – Today Carol Glazer was named one of Women’s eNews ‘21 Leaders for the 21st Century’ honorees for 2022 for her innovative leadership while serving as president of the National Organization on Disability (NOD), which champions disability-inclusive diversity in the workplace, marketplace, and communities.  Ms. Glazer, along with 20 other honorees, received the award on behalf of NOD at a Gala held at The United Nations in New York City.

Carol seated speaking into a microphone     Carol posing with award winners

In addition to celebrating this year’s honorees, the Gala included, for the first time in Women’s eNews’ 22-year history, a series of panel discussions addressing some of the most important issues impacting women and girls today including disability, health, business, diversity, leadership, and philanthropy.  Glazer, along with other industry leaders and disability activists, participated on a disability awareness panel entitled Redefining Disability.

“Women’s eNews selected these 21 individuals and organizations for their unwavering and pioneering support for gender equality from the health, technology and business sectors to the voting booth,” says Lori Sokol, PhD., Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief.

“I am truly honored to be recognized by Women’s eNews, especially during National Disability Employment Awareness Month.” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “I am a firm believer in emphasizing what individuals with disabilities can do instead of what we can’t do, especially as it relates to employment.  It is society’s obligation to make sure everyone can be an active and contributing participant in the world we live in.”

Under her leadership as NOD President, Ms. Glazer has transformed NOD into the country’s premier resource and ambassador on disability inclusion with an employment-focused agenda. As a result, NOD partners with corporate America to create new career opportunities for the sixty percent of Americans with disabilities, including our wounded veterans, that are not in the workforce. She continues to be an advocate and change leader for Americans with disabilities and all underrepresented groups, working diligently to foster greater opportunities to be part of our culture and community.

Ms. Glazer shared the vision for the future of disability inclusion: “Our mission is to change the paradigm of people with disabilities from deficit requiring charity, to talent requiring opportunity.”

Finally, Ms. Glazer urged others to spark change, saying, “My call to action is two words: ’Come out!’ Let people know you have a disability. It demystifies and destigmatizes disability.”

For more information about Women’s eNews, the award-winning, non-profit global news organization, click here.

 

About National Organization on Disability (NOD)

The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is a private, non-profit organization that seeks to increase employment opportunities for the 60-percent of working age Americans with disabilities who are not employed. To achieve this goal, NOD offers a suite of employment solutions, tailored to anticipate, and meet leading companies’ workforce needs. NOD has helped some of the world’s most recognized brands be more competitive in today’s global economy by building or enriching their disability inclusion programs. For more information about NOD and how its portfolio of professional services, Leadership Council and Employment Tracker™ can help your business, visit www.NOD.org.

For Disabled Workers, a Tight Labor Market Opens New Doors

With Covid prompting more employers to consider remote arrangements, employment has soared among adults with disabilities.

Kathryn Wiltz, wearing glasses, looks straight at the camera from the doorway of her home.
Before the pandemic, Kathryn Wiltz repeatedly asked her employer to let her work from home because of her disability, but was denied. Credit: Sarah Rice for The New York Times

Ben Casselman |Oct. 25, 2022

The strong late-pandemic labor market is giving a lift to a group often left on the margins of the economy: workers with disabilities.

Employers, desperate for workers, are reconsidering job requirements, overhauling hiring processes and working with nonprofit groups to recruit candidates they might once have overlooked. At the same time, companies’ newfound openness to remote work has led to opportunities for people whose disabilities make in-person work — and the taxing daily commute it requires — difficult or impossible.

As a result, the share of disabled adults who are working has soared in the past two years, far surpassing its prepandemic level and outpacing gains among people without disabilities.

Share employed, change since Jan. 2020

Note: Includes workers between 18 and 64 years old. Data is not seasonally adjusted. Source: Current Population Survey, via IPUMS. By The New York Times

 

In interviews and surveys, people with disabilities report that they are getting not only more job offers, but better ones, with higher pay, more flexibility and more openness to providing accommodations that once would have required a fight, if they were offered at all.

“The new world we live in has opened the door a little bit more,” said Gene Boes, president and chief executive of the Northwest Center, a Seattle organization that helps people with disabilities become more independent. “The doors are opening wider because there’s just more demand for labor.”

Samir Patel, who lives in the Seattle area, has a college degree and certifications in accounting. But he also has autism spectrum disorder, which has made it difficult for him to find steady work. He has spent most of his career in temporary jobs found through staffing agencies. His longest job lasted a little over a year; many lasted only a few months.

This summer, however, Mr. Patel, 42, got a full-time, permanent job as an accountant for a local nonprofit group. The job brought a 30 percent raise, along with retirement benefits, more predictable hours and other perks. Now he is thinking about buying a home, traveling and dating — steps that seemed impossible without the stability of a steady job.

“It’s a boost in confidence,” he said. “There were times when I felt like I was behind.”

Mr. Patel, whose disability affects his speech and can make conversation difficult, worked with an employment coach at the Northwest Center to help him request accommodations both during the interview process and once he started the job. And while Mr. Patel usually prefers to work in the office, his new employer also allows him to work remotely when he needs to — a big help on days when he finds the sensory overload of the office overwhelming.
“If I have my bad days, I just pick up the laptop and work from home,” he said.

Workers with disabilities have long seen their fortunes ebb and flow with the economy. Federal law prohibits most employers from discriminating against people with disabilities, and it requires them to make reasonable accommodations. But research has found that discrimination remains common: One 2017 study found that job applications that disclosed a disability were 26 percent less likely to receive interest from prospective employers. And even when they can find jobs, workers with disabilities frequently encounter barriers to success, from bathroom doors they cannot open without assistance to hostile co-workers.

Workers with disabilities — like other groups that face obstacles to employment, such as those with criminal records — tend to benefit disproportionately from strong job markets, when employers have more of an incentive to seek out untapped pools of talent. But when recessions hit, those opportunities quickly dry up.

“We have a last-in, first-out labor market, and disabled people are often among the last in and the first out,” said Adam Ozimek, chief economist at the Economic Innovation Group, a Washington research organization.

Remote work, however, has the potential to break that cycle, at least for some workers. In a new study, Mr. Ozimek found that employment had risen for workers with disabilities across industries as the labor market improved, consistent with the usual pattern. But it has improved especially rapidly in industries and occupations where remote work is more common. And many economists believe that the shift toward remote work, unlike the red-hot labor market, is likely to prove lasting.

More than 35 percent of disabled Americans ages 18 to 64 had jobs in September. That was up from 31 percent just before the pandemic and is a record in the 15 years the government has kept track. Among adults without disabilities, 78 percent had jobs, but their employment rates have only just returned to the level before the pandemic.

“Disabled adults have seen employment rates recover much faster,” Mr. Ozimek said. “That’s good news, and it’s important to understand whether that’s a temporary thing or a permanent thing. And my conclusion is that not only is it a permanent thing, but it’s going to improve.”

Before the pandemic, Kathryn Wiltz repeatedly asked her employer to let her work from home because of her disability, a chronic autoimmune disorder whose symptoms include pain and severe fatigue. Her requests were denied.

Kathryn Wiltz, wearing a gray graphic T-shirt, sits at a desk in front of a laptop.
Ms. Wiltz’s new job allows her to work from home permanently. Credit…Sarah Rice for The New York Time

When the pandemic hit, however, the hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich., where Ms. Wiltz worked in the medical billing department sent her home along with many of her colleagues. Last month, she started a job with a new employer, an insurance company, in which she will be permanently able to work remotely.

Being able to work from home was a high priority for Ms. Wiltz, 31, because the treatments she receives suppress her immune system, leaving her vulnerable to the coronavirus. And even if that risk subsides, she said, she finds in-person work taxing: Getting ready for work, commuting to the office and interacting with colleagues all drain energy reserves that are thin to begin with. As she struggled through one particularly difficult day recently, she said, she reflected on how hard it would have been to need to go into the office.

“It would have been almost impossible,” she said. “I would have pushed myself and I would have pushed my body, and there’s a very real possibility that I would have ended up in the hospital.”

There are also subtler benefits. Ms. Wiltz can get the monthly drug infusions she receives to treat her disorder during her lunch break, rather than taking time off work. She can turn down the lights to stave off migraines. She doesn’t have to worry that her colleagues are staring at her and wondering what is wrong. All of that, she said, makes her a more productive employee.

“It makes me a lot more comfortable and able to think more clearly and do a better job anyway,” she said.
The sudden embrace of remote work during the pandemic was met with some exasperation from some disability-rights leaders, who had spent years trying, mostly without success, to persuade employers to offer more flexibility to their employees.

“Remote work and remote-work options are something that our community has been advocating for for decades, and it’s a little frustrating that for decades corporate America was saying it’s too complicated, we’ll lose productivity, and now suddenly it’s like, sure, let’s do it,” said Charles-Edouard Catherine, director of corporate and government relations for the National Organization on Disability.

Still, he said the shift is a welcome one. For Mr. Catherine, who is blind, not needing to commute to work means not coming home with cuts on his forehead and bruises on his leg. And for people with more serious mobility limitations, remote work is the only option.

Many employers are now scaling back remote work and are encouraging or requiring employees to return to the office. But experts expect remote and hybrid work to remain much more common and more widely accepted than it was before the pandemic. That may make it easier for disabled employees to continue to work remotely.

The pandemic may also reshape the legal landscape. In the past, employers often resisted offering remote work as an accommodation to disabled workers, and judges rarely required them to do so. But that may change now that so many companies were able to adapt to remote work in 2020, said Arlene S. Kanter, director of the Disability Law and Policy Program at the Syracuse University law school.

“If other people can show that they can perform their work well at home, as they did during Covid, then people with disabilities, as a matter of accommodation, shouldn’t be denied that right,” Ms. Kanter said.

Ms. Kanter and other experts caution that not all people with disabilities want to work remotely. And many jobs cannot be done from home. A disproportionate share of workers with disabilities are employed in retail and other industries where remote work is uncommon. Despite recent gains, people with disabilities are still far less likely to have jobs, and more likely to live in poverty, than people without them.

“When we say it’s historically high, that’s absolutely true, but we don’t want to send the wrong message and give ourselves a pat on the back,” Mr. Catherine said. “Because we’re still twice as likely to be unemployed and we’re still underpaid when we’re lucky enough to be employed.”

Disability issues are likely to become more prominent in coming years because the pandemic has left potentially millions of adults dealing with a disability. A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimated that close to two million working-age Americans had become disabled because of long Covid.

Employers that don’t find ways to accommodate workers with disabilities — whether through remote work or other adjustments — are going to continue to struggle to find employees, said Mason Ameri, a Rutgers University business professor who studies disability.

“Employers have to shape up,” he said. “Employers have to pivot. Otherwise this labor shortage may be more permanent.”

Ben Casselman writes about economics, with a particular focus on stories involving data. He previously reported for FiveThirtyEight and The Wall Street Journal.

NOD President Carol Glazer Recognized as One of Women’s eNews 21st Century Honorees for 2022

NEW YORK, NY (September 20, 2022) – National Organization on Disability (NOD) President Carol Glazer was named one of Women’s eNews ‘21 Leaders for the 21st Century’ honorees for 2022 for championing disability-inclusive diversity in the workplace, marketplace, and communities. Ms. Glazer, along with 20 other honorees, will be recognized at an Awards Gala on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2002, at The United Nations in New York City from 10am – 3pm. As part of the celebration, Glazer will also be participating on a disability awareness panel.

“Women’s eNews selected these 21 individuals and organizations for their unwavering and pioneering support for gender equality from the health, technology and business sectors to the voting booth,” says Lori Sokol, PhD., Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief.

Under her leadership as NOD President, Ms. Glazer has transformed NOD into the country’s premier resource and ambassador on disability inclusion with an employment-focused agenda. As a result, NOD partners with Corporate America to create new career opportunities for the sixty percent of Americans with disabilities, including our wounded veterans, that are not in the workforce. She continues to be an advocate and change leader for Americans with disabilities and all underrepresented groups, working diligently to foster greater opportunities to be part of our culture and community.

“I am truly honored to be recognized by Women’s eNews, especially in October as its National Disability Employment Awareness Month.” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “I am a firm believer in emphasizing what individuals with disabilities can do instead of what we can’t do, especially as it relates to employment. It is society’s obligation to make sure everyone can be an active and contributing participant in the world we live in.”

In addition to celebrating this year’s honorees, the Gala will include, for the first time in Women’s eNews’ 22-year history, a series of panel discussions addressing some of the most important issues impacting women and girls today including disability, health, business, diversity, leadership, and philanthropy.

For more information about Women’s eNews, the award-winning, non-profit global news organization, click here.

For more information about [email protected] Annual Forum on September 29th in Washington, DC visit www.NOD.org.

ESTEEMED DISABILITY AND DIVERSITY LEADERS GATHER SEPTEMBER 29th IN DC FOR ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS AT HIGHLY ANTICIPATED ANNUAL FORUM HOSTED BY NOD

Roundtables will Feature Judy Heumann, Lifelong Disability Rights Leader and Principal of the Documentary CRIP CAMP on Netflix, and Executives from The White House, the National Urban League and U.S. Department of Labor

NEW YORK, NY (September 7, 2022) – For 40 years, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) has worked alongside some of the most highly respected leaders and companies to advance disability employment rights in this country. At the epicenter of its 40th Anniversary celebration, NOD curated two dynamic roundtables with disability and diversity leaders at its Annual Forum, NOD at 40: Honoring the Past; Innovating the Future in our nation’s Capital on September 29, 2022, from 3:30 – 6:00 pm followed by a Roof Terrace awards reception.

NOD will host two dynamic roundtables during the Forum: 1) Honoring the Disability Rights Movement Over the Last 40 Years, and 2) Focusing on the Future with Innovators in the ADA Generation. The first roundtable will delve into the trajectory of the disability rights movement and its parallels with other social justice movements, and will be moderated by I. King Jordan, President Emeritus of Gallaudet University.

The roundtable will feature:

  • Judy Heumann, Disability Rights Leader and Principal of the Oscar-Nominated/Higher Ground Netflix documentary CRIP CAMP, whose biopic is in development at Apple TV;
  • Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League and former Mayor of New Orleans;
  • Taryn Mackenzie Williams, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor
  • Day-Al Mohamed, Disability Policy Director, White House Domestic Policy Council.

The second roundtable, moderated by Charles-Edouard Catherine, Director of Corporate & Government Relations, National Organization on Disability, will build on the legacy of ADA and other landmark civil rights legislation, focusing on four pillars of progress – digital accessibility, authentic media images, owning the disability narrative and the next generation of disability rights leaders.

The roundtable will feature:

  • Xian Horn, Founder of Give Beauty Wings and Changeblazer, and ForbesWomen Contributor;
  • Andrea Jennings, Founder of Shifting Creative Paradigms and a Co-Founder of Recording Artists and Musicians with Disabilities (RAMPD);
  • Jessica Riestra, Youth Organizer, California Foundation on Independent Living Centers and YO! Disabled & Proud;
  • Ayelet Winer, Sr. accessibility manager, Head of T-Mobile’s Accessibility Resource Center; and
  • Petr Kucheryavyy, Senior Accessibility Manager, Charter Communications, also known through its Spectrum brand.

“NOD is grateful and proud that these distinguished and talented executives and professionals are lending their expertise, prestige and perspective, in addition to their personal stories at our Annual Forum,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and NOD’s 40th anniversary. In the spirit of these two milestones, I am looking forward to the powerful discussions that will honor the past 40 years of disability rights and focus on the future as we harness and galvanize the power, creativity, and innovation of disability-inclusive diversity in the workplace, marketplace, and communities across America.”

Disability Rights Leader Judy Heumann says, “It has been my privilege to get to know Governor Ridge and Carol Glazer, and the work that they have done with NOD over many years. Their leadership has played a major role in bringing such issues as the fight to ensure no one is earning below minimum wage. The organization NOD is about dignity, rights, and justice.”

The National Organization on Disability’s Annual Forum will convene at the beautiful venue – 101 Constitution Avenue in Washington D.C. on Thursday, September 29, 2022. The Annual Forum has become the must-attend event with the disability community, and corporate leaders, to analyze past and project future trends. For more information about the NOD at 40 Annual Forum, click here. Sponsorships for NOD at 40 are still available. For more information, contact Priyanka Ghosh at [email protected]

NOD and Corporate Partners to Celebrate 40 Years of Disability Inclusion Progress and Honor Long-time NOD Chairman Governor Tom Ridge and President Carol Glazer

NOD to Welcome President & CEO of  The Hershey Company for Important Message  

NEW YORK, NY (August 10, 2022) – The year 1982 delivered many memorable moments: Doctors performed the first implant of a permanent artificial heart; Disney’s futuristic park EPCOT opened; Michael Jackson’s album Thriller debuted; and the National Organization on Disability (NOD) was founded. Every day since, NOD has worked to advance employment opportunities for the 60 million Americans with disabilities, as well as break down the barriers that often prevent people with disabilities from being part of the workforce. To commemorate its 40th anniversary, NOD, along with its title sponsors, The Hershey Company and Prudential Financial, additional corporate partners, disability rights advocates, and civic leaders will convene in our nation’s capital for NOD’s Annual Forum, NOD at 40: Honoring the Past; Innovating the Future.

The celebration will be held on September 29, 2022 and will celebrate 40 years of NOD and the accomplishments of the disability rights movement; explore the future being built by ADA Generation innovators; and honor the man who has served as NOD’s Chairman for the last 17 years, the nation’s first Secretary of Homeland Security, Governor Tom Ridge, as well as Carol Glazer who has served as NOD’s president for the last 13 years.

“While America still has a long way to go, the disability rights landscape has changed dramatically and much has been accomplished since our founding in 1982,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “NOD is proud to have been at the center of this progress throughout our forty-year history and is fortunate to have had some amazing leaders, like NOD founder Alan Reich and Governor Tom Ridge, guide us toward successes.  We also couldn’t do it without the support of some of the world’s most recognized brands including The Hershey Company, Prudential Financial, and Toyota Motors North America, for their contributions and tireless commitment to hiring people with disabilities. I am very much looking forward to gathering with our colleagues and friends in Washington D.C. to celebrate 40 years of progress and talk about the next employment challenges that must be solved for the disability community.”

NOD will recognize all its corporate sponsors and partners, to date, at the annual forum including:

  • Title Sponsors: The Hershey Company and Prudential Financial
  • Lead Sponsors: Charter Communications, Hilton Worldwide, T-Mobile US, Toyota Motor North America
  • Platinum Sponsors: Comcast NBCUniversal, DiversityInc, PwC
  • Gold Sponsors: Colgate-Palmolive Company, Cox Enterprises, Eli Lilly and Company, Kaiser Permanente, Northrop Grumman, Target
  • Silver Sponsors: American Heart Association, AmeriHealth Caritas, DirectEmployers Association, General Motors, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, The Kellogg Company, Kessler Foundation, L’Oréal USA, Marriott International, Maybelline New York.

“The Hershey Company’s long relationship with NOD has been instrumental in helping us open doors of opportunity for people with disabilities,” said Michele Buck, CEO, President and Chair of the Board for The Hershey Company. “As NOD turns 40, we are pleased to honor Carol Glazer and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. As a member of our Board of Directors for over a decade, we have first-hand knowledge of Governor Ridge’s passion, leadership, and tremendous service. The results of his contributions on behalf of people with disabilities are evident in workplaces from Wall Street to Main Street, including Hershey.”

Every year, NOD also honors the Leading Disability Employers for their exemplary hiring and employment practices for people with disabilities. The NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal is awarded to the top performers on NOD’s Employment Tracker™, a free and confidential assessment that benchmarks companies’ disability inclusion programs and is a pre-requisite for recognition by DiversityInc.

“Prudential salutes NOD’s dedication to improving the employment gap by highlighting the competitive advantages of hiring individuals with disabilities,” said Lata Reddy, senior vice president, Inclusive Solutions, Prudential Financial. “Our partnership with NOD has been an integral part of strengthening our efforts to advance visibility, accessibility and inclusion for our employees.”

The National Organization on Disability’s Annual Forum is a must-attend event for the corporate diversity and inclusion community. Sponsorships for NOD at 40: Honoring the Past; Innovating the Future are still available; contact Priyanka Ghosh at [email protected].

NOD SALUTES LONGTIME LEADERS TOM RIDGE AND CAROL GLAZER WHO SHARE PLANS OF LEADERSHIP TRANSITION

Together, Ridge and Glazer led NOD in becoming the foremost partner to corporate America in ensuring more employment opportunities for people with disabilities

NEW YORK (June 1, 2022) – Governor Tom Ridge and Carol Glazer, who together served as the longtime chairman and president, respectively, of the National Organization on Disability (NOD) will leave their positions with NOD after 16 years of service. The announcement was made by Luke Visconti, founder and chairman of DiversityInc and vice chairman of the NOD Board of Directors. Visconti will succeed Governor Ridge as chairman effective immediately and will preside over the July meeting of the NOD Board.

Governor Ridge, who was elected chairman in 2006, will continue to serve on the NOD Board of Directors in the role of chairman emeritus. Glazer, who first joined NOD as a consultant in 2006 and was named president in 2009, will be retiring from full-time work. She has committed to remain president until her successor is in place. NOD has hired the California-based firm The 360 Group to lead a national search for NOD’s next president.

“A 16-year partnership such as the one between Tom and Carol is incredibly rare, and all of us in the disability community are the beneficiaries of their shared vision, their passion and their singular focus on expanding workplace opportunities for people with disabilities,” said Visconti. “I will be forever grateful to Governor Ridge for inviting me into NOD and sharing his wisdom about leadership and service. We both are stroke survivors, giving us a clearer picture of the challenges people with disabilities face each day. His strength and determination throughout his rehab have been an inspiration, and I am delighted he will remain on the board so that we all can continue to benefit from his depth of knowledge on so many issues.

“Carol Glazer has been exactly the leader NOD needed since she first arrived on the scene 16 years ago. After the death of NOD founder Alan Reich, many wondered if NOD would survive. Carol ensured not only that NOD would survive, but it would flourish – soon becoming a trusted partner to dozens of FORTUNE 500 companies who need assistance in growing their disability workforce. Carol has assembled a talented and creative staff that is effectively leading NOD into our 40th year of service. I want to thank Carol for insisting she stays in her current position as president until we have hired a successor to ensure we don’t miss a beat.”

Together, Governor Ridge and Carol Glazer, in partnership with a renowned Board of Directors and talented staff, led NOD in becoming the foremost partner to corporate America to ensure more employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Now celebrating its 40th year, NOD helps some of the world’s more recognized brands be more competitive in today’s global economy by building or enriching their disability inclusion programs.

“Ensuring that people with disabilities have access to equal employment opportunities isn’t only about civil rights,” said Governor Ridge. “America’s success in the world depends on how well we inspire and put to use the talents and energies of every person in this country. I spoke those words shortly after NOD founder Alan Reich first asked me to serve as chair. That sentiment has driven Carol and me forward every day since. I am incredibly proud of the work NOD has accomplished to advance employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities and look forward to continuing that work with my talented colleagues on the NOD board. We will miss Carol very much but know that her legacy – her unwavering commitment to make certain we are using the talents of all individuals – will continue to propel us forward.”

Carol Glazer said never once in her many years of working with Governor Ridge did she take their partnership for granted. “I’m coming to the twilight of an extraordinary career journey in which I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with one true hero after another in public life and in business,” said Glazer. “There is no one that compares to Tom Ridge. He is a national treasure, someone who has devoted his entire life to public service and always with the utmost of integrity, love of people, and a deep sense of what moves and drives those with whom he comes in contact. Most of all, Governor Ridge has a deep commitment to leaving this world in a much better place than when he entered it.

“So, I will miss Governor Ridge dearly, but I’ll also miss the men and women of NOD; the remarkable professionals who work with such passion and dedication behind the scenes every day in order that people with disabilities have access to employment and a better future. They are largely responsible for our successes and will ensure a smooth transition to our next leader.”

About National Organization on Disability (NOD)

The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is a private, non-profit organization that seeks to increase employment opportunities for the 80-percent of working age Americans with disabilities who are not employed. To achieve this goal, NOD offers a suite of employment solutions, tailored to meet leading companies’ workforce needs. NOD has helped some of the world’s most recognized brands be more competitive in today’s global economy by building or enriching their disability inclusion programs. For more information about NOD and how its professional services, Leadership Council and Employment Tracker™ can help your business, visit www.NOD.org.

 

 

 

 

NOD Appoints Goldman Sachs Chief Administrative Officer Ericka Leslie To Board Of Directors

Longtime Disability Rights Advocate Ericka Leslie Will Assist NOD in Advancing Disability Inclusion in the Workforce

Headshot of Ericka LeslieNEW YORK (April 27, 2022) – The National Organization on Disability (NOD) today announced Ericka Leslie, Chief Administrative Officer at Goldman Sachs, as the newest member to join its Board of Directors. Ms. Leslie, a champion, and advocate for disability rights, will join 15 other civic and corporate leaders from across the country working to advance disability inclusion across the workforce.

“The National Organization on Disability welcomes Ericka and we look forward to being the beneficiary of her years of wisdom and experience,” said NOD Chairman, Gov. Tom Ridge. “This year marks the National Organization on Disability’s 40th anniversary. The disability rights landscape has changed dramatically since our founding in 1982 and we are proud of the great strides we have made in advancing our mission of putting individuals with disabilities to work. Building on that success will take talented individuals such as Ericka joining our ranks. Her experience and commitment to championing people with disabilities will help us continue to advance our mission of disability inclusion in the workplace.”

“I am excited and honored to join this talented group of leaders in advancing and advocating for disability rights and building a more inclusive workplace,” said Ericka Leslie, Chief Administrative Officer at Goldman Sachs. “Throughout my career, I have remained committed to expanding opportunities for people of all backgrounds because it results in better outcomes and better decisions. This is an issue that I am personally passionate about and look forward to working with the National Organization on Disability to increase employment opportunities for Americans living with disabilities.”

Ericka Leslie serves as a disability champion for the firm’s disability inclusion network. In this role and in her current position as Goldman Sachs’ Chief Administrative Officer, Ericka is known as a leader committed to fostering an inclusive environment for diverse constituencies, including those connected to disability.

Ms. Leslie, a longtime employee of Goldman Sachs for more than 25 years, is a firmwide champion for Launch with GS, the company’s commitment to invest in companies and investment managers with diverse leadership.  She also serves as Co-Chair of the Partnership Committee, Firmwide New Activity Committee and Firmwide Operational Risk and Resilience Committee at Goldman Sachs.  Ms. Leslie serves as vice chair of the Board of Directors for CLS Group Holdings AG and previously served as chair and vice chair of the Stephen Gaynor School in New York City. She earned a BA in Accounting and Finance from the University of Albany in 1992.

About National Organization on Disability (NOD)

The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is a private, non-profit organization that seeks to increase employment opportunities for the 80-percent of working age Americans with disabilities who are not employed. To achieve this goal, NOD offers a suite of employment solutions, tailored to meet leading companies’ workforce needs. NOD has helped some of the world’s most recognized brands be more competitive in today’s global economy by building or enriching their disability inclusion programs. For more information about NOD and how its professional services, Leadership Council and Employment Tracker™ can help your business, visit www.NOD.org.

 

 

61 million American adults have a disability. Experts say an intentional approach to accommodations can help companies ensure these workers feel valued.

Rachel DuRose, Madison Hoff, and Catherine Henderson | Feb 20, 2022, 7:30 AM

A woman uses sign language to communicate over video call.

Josh Basile knows that people with disabilities make up a substantial pool of untapped talent. He has a law degree and serves as the community-relations manager for AccessiBe, a company trying to make websites more usable for people with different disabilities through artificial intelligence and an accessibility interface. He’s a C4-5 quadriplegic, so he knows firsthand what it takes to make a successful career with a disability.

“Employment is so important to make sure that persons with disabilities have a voice not only in the home but in the workplace and within their communities,” Basile told Insider. “Having a job is really important in today’s world to be able to have a purpose, to be able to have buying power, to be able to dictate what your life looks like.”

Bringing more Americans with disabilities into the workforce means companies must ensure that their workplaces, whether remote or in-person, are accessible and accommodating.

In the US, about 61 million adults — or about one in four — have a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Basile said there’s plenty of room to improve their employment situation. Even before the pandemic, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities in the US was higher than the unemployment rate for people without disabilities.

The labor-force participation rate — the share of the population either working or actively looking for a job — for people with disabilities has also been lower than the rate for people without disabilities. That rate was 22.8% for Americans with disabilities in January, 44.4 percentage points lower than the 67.2% rate for Americans without disabilities.

“​​People with disabilities have to navigate a world that is still largely built for and reinforced by nondisabled individuals and norms,” Moeena Das, the chief operating officer of the National Organization on Disability, told Insider.

Das added that increasing the labor-force participation rate for people with disabilities starts with “really reinforcing and acknowledging that people with disabilities are as valuable of a talent pool as nondisabled.”

Small changes to the workplace can make a big difference

The first step in accommodating workers with disabilities is consulting with those workers, said Corey Anthony, the senior vice president and chief diversity development officer of AT&T. The company employs 7,000 workers with disabilities and uses a system, called iCount, to allow employees to self-identify their disability, Anthony said.

“We have an employee group that now has well over 3,500 members that focuses on issues that are unique to our employees with disabilities,” Anthony said. “We partner with them very closely — they are our eyes and ears about what is happening inside of our business with respect to this community.”

The accommodations that workers need may vary. Companies should listen and respect people’s knowledge of their own bodies and health.

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion describes reasonable accommodations, or “adjustments or modifications that enable people with disabilities to perform the essential functions of a job efficiently and productively,” as “important retention and advancement tools.”

Tad Asbury, the executive director of Bridges From School to Work, a nonprofit connecting young adults with disabilities to meaningful work, provided an example of a simple but effective accommodation that JPMorgan made at one of its security facilities in Chicago after hearing from its employees.

The company required employees to use a locker to store personal belongings before entering the facility, but some new hires from the nonprofit struggled with the combination lockers. So JPMorgan switched the lockers to ones that used keys that were easier to handle.

“Recognize that accommodations can be inexpensive,” Asbury said. “It can be as simple as getting the lockers with a key instead of ones with combinations.”

Employers need to consider accommodations for workers with disabilities after the pandemic

While some people may be eager to return to offices, many workers with disabilities may prefer remote jobs and other flexible work situations that became more popular during the pandemic.

“When it comes to the experience of people with disabilities during the pandemic, it’s been a bit of a bittersweet experience,” Das said, because people with disabilities had been advocating flexible work models long before companies enacted such policies during the pandemic.

Companies have learned that they can continue operations with flexibility. Even when the pandemic ends, these work models can benefit people with disabilities, Das said.

She noted that not every worker is in a job that can be done remotely. For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18% of workers with disabilities in 2020 were in service occupations, which include many in-person positions.

In addition to offering accommodations during recruiting, employers need to consider how inclusive their workplaces are for their existing staffers with disabilities. They can take an assessment like the National Organization on Disability’s Employment Tracker, a free and confidential assessment tool of six disability- and veterans’-inclusion focus areas like talent sourcing, to evaluate how they’re doing.

“So I’m deaf, for instance,” Das said. “Whether it’s myself, whether it might be somebody who has an auditory-processing disability, somebody who might have a cognitive disability, mask-wearing can be tremendously challenging. So what are some other adjustments that an employer may also need to make to your physical workspace as we’re really thinking about how we all move forward as a collective and make sure that our places are inclusive?”

Published in Business Insider

How Remote Work Has Made Working Accessible for Millions of People

remote work disability

BELINDA HOWELL/GETTY IMAGES

Until 2020, working from home was usually viewed as distraction-prone and unproductive, but as the pandemic forced people to stay home, everything changed. The Pew Research Center found 62% of American workers with a bachelor’s degree or more education say their work can be done from home. Similarly, the United States Census Bureau found more than a third of U.S. households reported working from home more frequently than before the pandemic. In fact, working from home can now be argued to be a better working style to make the most of your employees, especially those who are disabled. As someone who falls into this category, working from home has been a positive step for me, enabling greater accessibility that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I completed a short stint at a local paper while enrolled as a university student in 2019. To get to the office I had to catch two buses, and the commute took an hour each way. As someone whose condition makes her extremely tired after physical exertion, I’d come to work sleepy and unfocused, and I’m sure I failed to do my best work under these circumstances.

I graduated in 2021, and since offices shut down to contain the spread of COVID-19, I found remote freelance work — the commuting difficulties I once faced immediately vanished. I was worried about my working setup when I was diagnosed with antiphospholipid syndrome, but since offices closed, I had no choice but to work from home. I had never even considered it an option before the pandemic. I now had an accessible alternative, and it was freeing — I feel more at ease in my own space and confident and more productive.

Disabled people make up 15% of the global population, meaning greater accessibility can improve millions of lives of the 1.3 billion people who identify as disabled. Remote working is an accessible option for these people, and the greater population.

Sarah Rose, a journalist from Belfast has Endometriosis, Adenomyosis and Crohn’s Disease and says that she could never work from home full time in the e-commerce sector. “I requested it in previous jobs but found working from home even with a declared disability was very hard to access,” she told The Org.

The pandemic changed things for the better for Rose, however. “It was like suddenly overnight working from home was accessible,” she said. “Prior to the pandemic, I was always exhausted and overwhelmed; I was always worried about work. How would I manage the exhausting commute and perform in pain? I always felt like I was running on empty.”

Rose recalls feeling “exhausted” when she arrived at work, but she feels capable of working from home now that she can manage her fatigue and pain alongside her career. She adds that working from an office would be unmanageable, especially since working from home has opened doors for her career. “It has given me more opportunities as I’m able to work,” she said. “Without being able to work from home or with a flexible model, I would not be able to commit to full-time employment.”

This presents just one instance that demonstrates working from home can produce better workers and should be kept for the future.

Keryn Seal from Devon works in sales for a SaaS startup. He says working from home has given him back more energy. Seal is completely blind and has been since the age of 20. Now 39, he feels the pandemic has made the workplace more approachable to disabled people purely by accident. “Everything became more remote and online focussed because a predominantly non-disabled workforce required it to be that way to remain productive,” he told The Org.

He adds that these changes gave “disabled people the things they’ve been asking for over the past decade.” The difficulties that in-person working presented to Keryn were vast, including the lack of flexibility given to him to account for his disability.

The former athlete adds that working from home was commonplace in his athletic endeavors. Still, when his career changed, he felt “constant scrutiny” on where his time was spent and “borderline micromanagement.” This feeling of being observed closely stemmed from the nature of Seal’s workplace. “I had to justify my daily activities and was questioned why I said certain things to clients in an email.” These seemingly small things became draining for Seal, and led him to ultimately feel micromanaged.

Disability advocate Nana Marfo works with those who have special educational needs and is the director of Unique Abilities. He gives an alternative view to COVID-19’s effect on disabled people: “The pandemic has highlighted the issue employers have regarding recruiting disabled people,” he told The Org. “It is at an all-time low due to companies thinking of liability insurance and how effective disabled people can be as an employee.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2020, 17.9 percent of people with a disability were employed, down from 19.3 percent in 2019 in the U.S. For people without a disability, 61.8 percent were employed in 2020, down from 66.3 percent in the prior year, showing Marfo’s trend.

Felicia Nurmsen, Managing Director of Employer Services at the National Organization on Disability (NOD) told The Org: “People with disabilities have been asking for accommodations but have been denied working from home opportunities.” She adds that she thinks this change was “one of the best things that may have occurred as a part of the pandemic — a silver lining if you will.”

NOD has worked on a Disability Employment Tracker for the past nine years, a free tool that tracks now close to 500 companies specifically to see how they’re progressing with their disability inclusion practice. The tracker internally focuses just on the workplace, and employment. Nurmsen said that it has shown progress in disability employment practices, including talent outcomes which measure the progression of disabled people in their careers.

“If we really don’t know where our people with disabilities are in the workplace and how we’re supporting them, then we really can’t say that we have a disability-inclusive culture,” Nurmsen said, highlighting the importance of the tracker.

She adds that workplaces are moving in the right direction regarding inclusivity. The employment tracker contrastingly shows a significant increase in new hires of people with disabilities as well as the number of people that are unemployed with disabilities is decreasing.

According to the 2021 NOD Employment Tracker report, employers demonstrated self-identification rates three times higher than those that only examined self-ID.

It is clear the workforce was always adaptable, though it took a pandemic to afford the opportunity to people with disabilities. This is sadly indicative of how society values the contributions of people like me.