Steering the Winds of Change: A Summit on Leadership in Business, Academia, the Military, and Government
59 Companies Leading the Way in Hiring Talent with Disabilities Are Honored
National Organization on Disability Event also Featured Actors and Disability Advocates Danny Woodburn (Seinfeld) and Robert David Hall (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation)
NEW YORK (September 26, 2019) – More than 200 diversity and inclusion leaders from companies around the country gathered at the National Organization on Disability’s (NOD) Annual Forum and Dinner, entitled Shifting the Talent Paradigm: Inclusive Culture for a Modern Workforce. Sponsored by Lead Partners PwC and Spectrum, the all-day forum explored the best change management tactics that corporate leaders can deploy to create a more diverse and inclusive culture. Senior managers heard from executives and experts on the most effect tools and tactics to create an inclusive culture, as well as the leadership skills and personal attributes needed to lead a culture change.
Later in the evening, an awards dinner was held featuring actors and disability advocates Danny Woodburn (Seinfeld) and Robert David Hall (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation). Civic and business leaders also joined in the celebration, including Gov. Tom Ridge, first Secretary of Homeland Security and NOD Chairman, and DiversityInc’s Chairman and Founder Luke Visconti, who serves as the NOD Vice Chairman.
“Events such as this one hosted by the National Organization on Disability are critical because the subject of diversity and inclusion is often exclusive of people with disabilities,” said Woodburn, who serves as co-vice chair of the SAG-AFTRA People with Disabilities Committee. “This is particularly personal for me and my colleagues in Hollywood, because although people with disabilities make up more than 20 percent of our population, they are still significantly under-represented on television and film. Compounding the problem is the fact that even when characters with disabilities are featured on the small screen, they are far more too often played by actors without disabilities. This creates a 98% unemployment rate in my business, well above the national average of 67% for people with disabilities.”
“Danny and I have worked together for years to support opportunities for actors with disabilities, like us,” said Hall, a longtime NOD board member. “So we are privileged to attend events like this one that recognizes employers who not only embrace hiring people with disabilities, they see it as fundamental to their success. It’s a message we need to amplify in Hollywood.”
Starting a new tradition, NOD honored two individuals with special awards. The Kaitlin A. Geraghty Memorial Prize was given to Deanna Ferrante, a rising student in the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Class of 2020. Named in honor of the late NOD intern who was much admired and missed, this award is bestowed to an up-and-coming disability advocate who shares Kaitlin’s passion for working towards the full inclusion of people with disabilities.
Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, was the inaugural honoree of the Alan A. Reich Award, for enshrining disability inclusion into all of the organization’s operations—from its building accessibility to its grant making. Given to an established leader who is advancing disability rights, this award is named in honor of NOD’s founder, who helped spark a movement to ensure people with disabilities were represented equally in all aspects of life.
Then, 59 organizations were honored as the 2019 NOD Leading Disability Employers™ for their exemplary hiring and employment practices for people with disabilities. Now in its fifth year, the NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal is awarded to the top performers on NOD’s Disability Employment Tracker™, a free and confidential assessment that benchmarks companies’ disability inclusion programs.
“These winning organizations understand that by harnessing the talents of people with disabilities, they reap the benefits of a more diverse and more productive workforce,” said NOD Chairman Governor Tom Ridge. “The preeminent challenge before us is to ensure that people with disabilities enjoy full opportunity for employment, enterprise and earnings, and that employers know how to put their talents to work. These 59 organizations certainly have demonstrated they are doing just that, and we applaud their leadership and thank them for their commitment to hiring people with disabilities.”
About the Leading Disability Employer Seal™ + Disability Employment Tracker
To see current and past winners of the NOD Leading Disability Employer seal, visit www.NOD.org/seal.
To be considered for the 2020 NOD Leading Disability Employer seal, companies must complete the free and confidential Disability Employment Tracker assessment during the qualifying window.
For more information and to sign up, visit www.NOD.org/tracker.