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The Next 100 Years of Inclusive Leadership


America has always valued a strong work ethic — and those who possess it.

One hundred years ago, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the National Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act to provide essential training to returning vets and civilians with disabilities.


Seventy years later, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in key areas, including employment.


With these important laws each celebrating milestones this year, how can those with visible and hidden disabilities find the careers they desperately want?


Private employers are the answer.


Businesses whose mission includes serving the largest minority segment of the U.S. population, those with some sort of disability, are “champion employers,” says Bob Bromberg, who in his 44-year HR career, advocated for and hired disabled job and internship candidates.


Even amid the pandemic, 86% of respondents to the Able Trust’s 2020 Disability Inclusion & Employment Trends Survey said they would place the same or more emphasis on diversity and inclusion.


What do you gain when you hire a worker with a disability? Research consistently shows that you get a more loyal employee who will work harder and have lower absenteeism and turnover. They’re a “huge pool of potential talent,” Bromberg says.


The truth is in the numbers: 81% of survey respondents felt that persons with disabilities performed the same as persons without disabilities, and 15% even reported that persons with disabilities performed better.


“Now is a fantastic time to explore diversity and inclusion,” says Heather “HD” Deyrieux, president of the HR Florida State Council (www.hrflorida. org). Done well, “it’s something that can carry forward into the future.”


If you are an employer on the fence about disability inclusion, just ask your employees. Talented workers want to work at an inclusive workplace, and three-quarters of respondents in The Able Trust survey said their employees would be comfortable working with a fellow employee with disabilities.


A diverse and inclusive workplace starts at the top, says Allison Chase, who manages The Able Trust’s business leadership and exchange program, known as the ABLE Network. The more intentional and direct business leaders are in their commitment, the more likely it is that others within the company will follow their lead.


Create a Disability and Inclusion Ready Workplace


If your company is ready to engage in the next 100 years of inclusion, consider these tips from The Able Trust to help chart your course:

Focus on abilities, not perceived barriers. Workers with disabilities are loyal and flexible problem-solvers with longer-than-average job tenure.

  • Review your D&I hiring and recruiting practices. Evaluate how open and welcoming you are to talent with differing abilities.

  • Secure support for hiring and assistive technologies. Vocational rehab support, including agencies and counselors already in your community, as well as tax credits and grants, can assist and reimburse employers with everything from hiring to training to accommodations.

  • Join the ABLE Network. The Able Trust’s leadership network and resource guides help businesses remove barriers and engage all of Florida’s talent pool. The ABLE Network is a B2B/peer-to-peer program for business leaders committed to diversity and inclusion. The network supports businesses that want to educate, empower, and employ Floridians with disabilities, and fosters business-to-business learning and best practices.

  • To find out more about how you can enhance your business impact, contact us at Business@AbleTrust.org.

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