Last month, I introduced you to the new groundbreaking research sponsored by Accenture General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, Chad Jerdee. The research unearths the business case for including the significantly untapped community of persons with disabilities in the United States’ workforce. Since its launch, Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage has caught the attention of nearly 10 clients requesting debriefs, various government agencies and State Department bureaus, and private sector and civil society organizations. As the study’s research lead, I was incredibly honored to be invited to present at two events on Washington’s Capitol Hill on December 3, International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
I started the day with a debrief of the study to Craig Leen, Acting Director for Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at the Department of Labor along with several members of his team, including Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary/Office for Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). I then joined a bipartisan roundtable on Global Disability Employment at the Department of State, led by Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and its Special Advisor for Office of Multicultural and Global Affairs, Ann Cody.
Presenting at the Roundtable on Global Disability Employment, U.S. Department of State was an experience I shall never forget. Also pictured is co-panelist, Jenny Lay-Flurrie - Microsoft's Chief Accessibility Officer.
It was highly satisfying to hear multiple individuals acknowledge that this study is finally providing critical evidence for what has been long suspected: that financial performance gains are possible when embracing best practices for employing and supporting more persons with disabilities in the workforce. It made the months of effort so very worthwhile. But even more exciting was the amount of thought-provoking questions and discussion which came about during each session.
One particular question was raised in both: How do we best find candidates and/or develop the skills needed to achieve inclusion?
As someone with a chronic autoimmune disease, I feel confident in saying that I and other persons with disabilities do not simply want jobs, we want the stability of a career. And this means getting to know our specific strengths and skills and acknowledging, early on, where training and coaching will be required to encourage continued growth and advancement. During the course of the Getting to Equal research, I interviewed CVS Health’s VP of Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer, David Casey. The ever-inspiring Casey talked about the wide array of state entities and community organizations the company leverages to find and invite talent into its training and hiring programs. Even if these individuals are not ultimately hired by the company, they are benefiting from the training programs which develop skills—both professional and life-related.
I have been impressed as well by the progress Accenture has made with regard to proactively optimizing opportunities by matching a person’s skill set with the right job. For example, in the United States we are partnering with organizations such as Mind Shift and Bridges to Work to place individuals in various functions across four different office locations.
These are just a few examples of how companies are evolving their search and hiring focus from philanthropy to skill-based. But, in this humble researcher’s opinion, it’s a space that could use a lot more discussion and sharing of best practices and resources.