The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) monthly newsletter has a new feature called Spotlight. In this section, EARN recognizes employers’ successful practices for outreach, recruitment, hiring, and accommodating workers with disabilities. EARN invites employers who would like to highlight their effective practices in employing people with disabilities to submit articles for future issues of the EARN newsletter. This month, EARN spotlights Pepsico for developing a partnership with a high performance employee with a visual impairment and successfully fostering his career success and advancement.
PARTNERSHIP WITH EMPLOYEE INCREASES DIVERSITY AND SUCCESS
PepsiCo Business+Information Solutions (BIS) employee Jay Macarty has been blind since birth. He was hired as a programmer by PepsiCo more than 10 years ago in the Plano, Texas BIS headquarter location. In preparation for his interview, Jay researched the programming tools used at PepsiCo. Having discovered that some tools were compatible with his screen reading software and others were not, Jay created an alternate path to accomplish the same work using tools that would work with his screen reading software. As a result, Jay came to the interview prepared to show his interviewers how he would complete his work at or above the expected standards.
During the interview process, Jay’s management had been concerned about how he would complete his work and what tools would be needed. However, Jay effectively demonstrated his alternate path using the tools that worked for him, and the interviewers were pleased that he had answered the questions for which they themselves did not have answers. Jay was hired and asked to make a list of the tools he would require to perform a programming job. He requested speech software ($1,500), a portable note taking device with Braille and speech capabilities ($3,000), and a Braille display ($10,000). This equipment was purchased and most was at his workstation when he reported for his first day on the job.
Jay is currently a designer of applications. This role requires him to present ideas and plans to his internal clients using PowerPoint, which can be a challenge for a user who is blind. Because there is no technology available to create or read diagrams for users who are blind, Jay works with his team to develop presentation materials. When Jay encountered a need to work in JAVA language, which was not compatible with screen readers, he worked to make this language accessible. He has since shared this knowledge with the manufacturer of the screen reader to enable any programmer who is blind to use the JAVA language with a screen reader.
Jay has been a high performing programmer and designer at PepsiCo for over a decade, and has consistently demonstrated his ownership of a solution. Jay’s innovative thinking has helped to set accessible technology standards for other PepsiCo workers with sight impairments. This is an example of a very productive partnership.
DOL, VA TO HELP JOBLESS VETERANS LEARN NEW SKILLS
The departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs are launching the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program to retrain 99,000 unemployed veterans for high-demand jobs. Under the program, which was established by the VOW to Hire Heroes Act enacted last year as an amendment to another measure, eligible unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60 may receive up to 12 months of assistance equal to the monthly full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty program, which currently is $1,473 per month. DOL will help participants find a job when their training ends. Click here to read more.
AT&T LAUNCHES MENTORING PROGRAM FOR SERVICE-DISABLED
AT&T has announced the launch of the 2012-2013 Operation Hand Salute (OHS), a supplier diversity program designed to mentor and develop Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business Enterprises (SDVOBEs). The program invites SDVOBE business CEOs to go back to school and learn from the best to improve their businesses and enhance their ability to win valuable corporate contracts. Click here to read more.
WHITE HOUSE SENDS UNITED NATIONS DISABILITY TREATY TO SENATE FOR RATIFICATION
Late last week, the White House announced its intent to send the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to the Senate for ratification. If the Senate chooses to adopt the Convention, the U.S. would join more than 140 countries around the world in committing themselves to protecting the rights of people with disabilities. View the Convention on the Rights for People with Disabilities here.
KNOWING COMMON HIRING AUTHORITIES CRITICAL IN FILLING CIVILIAN POSITIONS
As the Air Force continues to reform its hiring processes, hiring managers can make better, timelier decisions when they understand which hiring authorities they should use when recruiting new employees. “Hiring officials need to be aware of the various appointment authorities and eligibility requirements for each so they can make strategic choices about what authority will recruit the best possible candidates for their vacancies,” said Cynthia Garcia, the Air Force Personnel Center’s deputy director of civilian force integration. “Only when everyone involved in the hiring process is well informed will we have the greatest pool of qualified candidates to consider for careers in the Air Force civil service.” Click here to read more.
CAMPAIGN FOR DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT ANNOUNCES VIDEO CONTEST WINNERS
The Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE), a collaborative of leading disability and business organizations funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, has selected the winning videos in the 2012 “What can YOU do?” video contest. Winners were selected in three categories: employer, youth and general public. The CDE now seeks public participation in the “What can YOU do?” video contest by asking everyone to vote for their two favorite runner-up videos. Two videos will receive $250.00, courtesy of the US Business Leadership Network, a CDE founding partner. Cast your vote today! To see the videos and for more information, click here.
*In May 2012, the employment rate of people 16-64 years of age was 27.5% for persons with disabilities compared with 70.5% for persons without a disability. The gap between the employment rate of persons of 16-64 years of age with and without disabilities was 43.0%, not seasonally adjusted.
DOL SEEKS SUBMISSIONS FOR DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT APP CHALLENGE
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy announced the launch of its first disability-related application challenge, which is designed to generate innovative tools that will improve employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities. Click here for more information.
GROWING TALENT, RECOGNIZING ABILITY: WALGREENS LAUNCHES NATIONAL INITIATIVE TO HELP CREATE MORE JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Building upon its rich history of growing talent and recognizing ability through greater diversity in the workplace, Walgreens last month launched its national Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative (REDI). The in-store training program aims to help people with disabilities gain retail and customer service skills, and works closely with community organizations and vocational rehabilitation agencies to train and develop candidates. Since 2010, nearly 400 externs have completed training and more than 46 percent have been employed by Walgreens or other retailers. Click here to read more.
COMPANY AWARDED FOR INTERNSHIP PROGRAM FOR PEOPLE WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS
Nobis Works recently awarded Southern Company, a power company based in Atlanta, GA, with the 2012 Visionary Award for Outstanding Employer. The award was in recognition of their internship program which provides job experience for individuals with visual impairments. Nobis Works provides rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities in Georgia. Click here to read more.
WEBINAR ON STRATEGIES FOR INCREASING SELF-IDENTIFICATION FOR CANDIDATES AND EMPLOYEES WITH DISABILITIES, JUNE 28
While many companies work hard to diversify their employee base and include applicants with disabilities, those with non-visible impairments are often reluctant to self-identify for fear of not getting hired. EARN’s free webinar, “Strategies for Increasing Self-Identification for Candidates and Employees with Disabilities” on Thursday, June 28 at 2:00 PM (EDT) will offer strategies for creating environments where applicants and employees are comfortable with disclosing their disabilities, thereby allowing organizations to more accurately represent their workforce composition and efforts toward diversity. HRCI credits are available.
BUSINESS SENSE: INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE = EXPANDED MARKETPLACE
Want to tap into the third largest market segment in the U.S.? Interestingly, this demographic isn’t a particular race, gender or age group. It’s people with disabilities. The size of this population — 54 million strong — surpasses Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans, as well as Generation X and teens. Research shows that a workplace inclusive of people with disabilities is good for business, however not all employers know how to effectively hire and retain such individuals. For more information and resources on hiring people with disabilities, click here.
THE EFFECTS OF HIRING TAX CREDITS ON EMPLOYMENT OF VETERANS WITH DISABILITIES
In response to growing concerns regarding the employment situation of veterans, Congress enacted three separate employer tax credits designed to encourage veteran hiring between 2007 and 2011. A paper from RAND Corporation uses the 2007 expansion of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program to measure the impact of tax credits on employment of veterans with disabilities and demonstrates that the new tax credit increased employment among this target group by 2 percentage points in 2007 and 2008, representing roughly 32,000 jobs each year. Click here to read the paper in its entirety.
BUSINESSES BACKING VETS: HOW COMPANIES ARE PUTTING VETERANS TO WORK
According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001 was 12.1 percent in 2011. To combat this trend, many leading companies are finding new ways of making themselves veteran friendly. A growing number of companies understand that connecting veterans with employment goes beyond hiring one person at a time or sponsoring hiring fairs; it’s about changing business cultures to recognize the value of veterans while also helping them articulate how their military skills are transferable to the civilian world. Prudential is one example of this sort of corporate pioneer, with an entire department dedicated exclusively to helping veterans.
EARN is funded by the
U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy