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When Carol Glazer visited Starbucks headquarters in Seattle last fall to meet graduates from a unique training program at the company’s roasting plant in Carson City, Nevada, she wasn’t surprised to see pride in the faces of those who’d completed the course. What caught her off guard was the gratification she saw in the faces of everyone who encountered the grads.
Glazer, President of the National Organization on Disability since 2008, has been pushing for allies in its efforts to address a severe shortage of work opportunities for people with disabilities. In Starbucks, she believes she’s found a company that appreciates the payoff that comes with employing workers with disabilities.
“Starbucks is the beacon for others in corporate America,” she said. “There are a few companies that are pioneers in this field and Starbucks is one of them. Companies are beginning to understand that all the problem-solving skills and tenacity and persistence it takes to navigate a world that wasn’t built for you are terrific assets.”
The grads of the program, which Starbucks started about a year and a half ago in Nevada, were recognized Monday during an event celebrating Starbucks 20th anniversary in York. Those participating went through six weeks of training to give them experience in work like shipping and packaging. Instructors for the York program were provided by Crispus Attucks.
Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability, told the crowd that there are 30 million working-age individuals with disabilities and only 20 percent are working — a statistic that hasn’t changed since the end of World War II, she said.
“It’s not only a historic injustice, it’s a terrible waste of a huge amount of talent that could be enriching the American workforce,” she said.
Together with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, National Organization on Disability and Crispus Attucks Association, Starbucks Inclusion Academy Program Provides Individuals with Disabilities an Opportunity to Gain Work Experience at its Roasting Plant in York, Pennsylvania
“With more than 56 million Americans living with some form of disability, we need more companies to recognize the untapped pipeline of talent available to corporate America,” said Carol Glazer, President of the National Organization on Disability. “By collaborating on strategic initiatives like the Starbucks Inclusion Academy, NOD is taking its 30-year record of innovation to help launch effective disability employment initiatives. I applaud Starbucks for finding an innovative way to promote disability inclusion in the workplace.”
HUFFINGTON POST BLOG By CAROL GLAZER, President, National Organization on Disability
Gov. Ridge and I agree one thing companies need to do now is to rethink their hiring strategies to find skilled talent in technology. America is already lagging when it comes to STEM-skilled workers. The U.S. will have more than 1.2 million job openings in STEM - or science, technology, engineering and math - fields by 2018. And by 2020, the McKinsey Global Institute reports there will be a shortage of 95 million skilled workers.
Microsoft and SAP are two companies that are filling this STEM talent gap by hiring individuals with autism. Why? They’ve discovered that these individuals possess in-demand skills in STEM fields, especially jobs that require extreme attention to detail or repetitive tasks, like quality checking software or finding anomalies in data. Remember the character made famous by Dustin Hoffman in the film, Rain Man, who had a remarkable ability to remember numerical sequences? Those same skills can be used to help companies fill critical STEM vacancies.
The United Nations estimates that more than 1 billion people live with disabilities worldwide. In many places, they face discrimination, lack of accommodation and even a disregard for their right to exist.
The United Nations General Assembly in 2006 adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Its goal is to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”
Curb cuts. Braille in elevators. Closed captioning. Signers in public meetings. They did not exist when the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. A reflection on the 25th anniversary of the ADA, which makes a crucial difference for over 50 million Americans with disabilities – and their families.
Kenneth Roman, longtime member of NOD’s Board of Directors and Dartmouth classmate of Alan Reich, founder of NOD, reflects on Reich’s personal experience of disability – and the journey it led him on: from the State Department to the United Nations, and ultimately to the founding of the National Organization on Disability.
“When I was in school, I had never seen anyone in a wheelchair. There have been great, positive changes in attitudes toward participation by the disabled. I consider myself fortunate to be able to do the work that I do.” - Alan Reich
Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability, a non-profit dedicated to the disabled community in the U.S., told USA TODAY the findings should be viewed to see how disability affects income and unemployment levels.
The non-profit’s research has found that 20% of people with disabilities have a job, while 69% of people without disabilities are employed. However, younger Americans with disabilities have nearly the same access to education as children without disabilities, Glazer said. Glazer is optimistic that more educated and disabled individuals will lead to more employment among the disabled community.
When it comes to talking about disability, we don’t.
Nearly one in five Americans reports living with a disability, yet our silence prevents us from aiding in destigmatization, fair access and equal opportunity.
Along with major forms of social discrimination, such as denying employment to people with disabilities or using the R-word, there are seemingly little things able-bodied people do every day that aren’t so inclusive. And those little things need to change.
Here are six things you should think about in order to be a stronger ally to disability communities.
On July 26, 1990, when former President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act into law, it was heralded as the beginning of a new era of improved access and employment for people with disabilities.
As the nation celebrates this landmark civil-rights legislation impacting an estimated 56 million Americans, or 19 percent of the U.S. population, the progress of people with disabilities in the workplace remains a challenge. With new laws impacting employers and a growing realization in corporate America of the need to hire more skilled workers, disability advocates are cautiously optimistic.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. and NOD’s Chairman Tom Ridge and CNN’s Michael Smerconish discuss President George H.W. Bush and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which celebrates its 25th Anniversary this week.