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JPMorgan Chase: Driving Inclusion through On-the-Job Training

Employer Case Study: Find out how this leading financial institution is using a paid apprenticeship model to train and hire people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

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JPMorgan Chase

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JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPMC) is one of the oldest financial institutions in the U.S., in business for more than 200 years. The firm has grown to include operations in more than 100 global markets, and employs over 250,000 people worldwide. JPMC values a diverse and talent-driven workforce, is frequently honored as one of the world’s top employers and is recognized as a leader in disability hiring programs.

Watch videos about JPMC's disability inclusion efforts.

After the success of its first neurodiversity hiring initiative, the firm launched the Business Solutions Team (BeST) for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 2019. Inspired by a disability hiring program at another financial institution, JPMC conducted a viability study to determine if this type of disability hiring initiative could align with the firm’s business interests and corporate values and culture. The answer was yes: by carving out tasks that were error prone within existing roles at the firm, BeST would offer a solid value proposition. Using a paid apprenticeship model, the program could effectively train and hire people with intellectual disabilities into roles that are fully integrated into business processes.

“We became aware we were missing out in a talent space and wanted access,” says Bryan Gill, Operations Director of BeST. “These roles are specifically engineered to fix business-related problems, so this is not a charity play. We identify the problems associated with a role — such as quality control related to more routine, repetitive tasks — and then we create talent solutions with BeST to address them.”

JPMC’s neurodiversity program, called Autism at Work, has grown over the last five years to 9 locations worldwide, encompassing more than 40 different roles within multiple lines of business. The initiative’s success provided the impetus for implementing a business model for BeST that includes on-the-job training and support, as well as coaching and education for managers and colleagues. With accommodations and assistive technology delivered as needed, BeST aims to identify candidates who are a good “motivational fit” for clearly defined tasks and roles — meaning each role aligns with a colleague’s talents, aspirations and interests.

The firm overcame the challenge of identifying and sourcing BeST candidates by developing relationships with community partners. These partners identify and refer talent while providing job supports and other services, such as guidance on eligibility for state and federal benefits. JPMC also developed an innovative supported decision-making policy that encourages the use of job coaches and enables BeST colleagues to access support when required and appropriate to make employment-related decisions. This applies to situations where the employee is not their own legal guardian or relies on a caregiver. And while transportation issues initially posed a particular challenge, this was resolved temporarily when the entire BeST team made a successful shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Long term, JPMC is investigating more scalable solutions to transportation barriers.

Once the business case for the BeST program became clear, it received the full support of top leaders in the firm. JPMC leadership was willing to make an upfront investment, fully realizing that the returns would come later. This support included a willingness to pay for job coaching, as needed, when a candidate doesn’t have public funds to pay for these supports.

JPMC has already experienced a return on their investment. The process of identifying and elevating certain transactions or roles within the firm — where quality control issues existed in the past — allowed the firm to find the right talent for those roles and improve both quality and productivity. Colleagues previously responsible for tasks that weren’t viewed as a good motivational fit are no longer responsible for some of the more rote, routine tasks, which has improved morale. This not only elevated service delivery and quality from the participating departments, but also produced some unexpected cultural benefits. Bryan Gill describes the impact as having “transformed teams, improved understanding of people’s differences and driven inclusivity.”

BeST leadership hopes to expand the program to include 500 employees in multiple markets over the next 5 years. They travel to other markets and conduct what they call a “communications road show” targeting core strategic markets to obtain buy-in toward increasing operational scale. They meet with teams and share successes; from there, they engage people who oversee operational roles and have problems to solve. Because the BeST team is driven by a business operations perspective rather than diversity and inclusion exclusively, their work is informed by a business need.

How do you start a program like this? The first step is to find a local resource for community partnership, because getting access to the right talent pool is critical. Also, don’t fail to notice people’s true potential: BeST’s leadership quickly learned that they had underestimated the capabilities of people with disabilities, so more than half of the employees have increased their responsibilities. Today, when considering expanding the program, JPMC rules out roles that they describe as “gratuitous” with little business benefit, or roles considered unsustainable due to trends in automation and other economic factors. The ultimate goal is to expand and sustain career opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities in a manner that meets business needs — while transforming lives.