People with Disabilities Help Employers Increase their Bottom Line, Improve Worker Retention

October 22, 2019

TRENTON – Employers, service providers, and people with disabilities gathered today to identify opportunities to help businesses work with the disability community to build career pathways for people with disabilities.

The Department of Human Services’ Division of Disability Services (DDS), in partnership with the Employers Association of NJ (EANJ) and My Talent Pipeline, sponsored “Accommodation Conversations” at Middlesex County College to mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month.  A recent report by the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN reported the opportunity for large GDP growth from greater inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the workforce.

The event brought together business leaders and individuals with disabilities in a supportive environment to share strategies and engage in examples of successful Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accommodation conversations.

“Building career opportunities for people with disabilities not only creates options with individuals, it can increase a business’ bottom line.  Employment can change people’s lives by recognizing their talent, potential and accomplishments,” NJ Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said. “This event brought the disability community and the business community together to talk about how we advance these common goals.”

Accommodation Conversations featured compelling case study interviews with employers and their employees sharing strategies, business metrics, and insights for having productive conversations about ADA-related accommodations.

Accommodation Conversations also offered human resource professionals, hiring managers, and business leaders strategies to foster organizational culture change, and develop measurable policies and practices for disability-inclusion.

“This is an opportunity for businesses to create a strategic path that recognizes that recruiting individuals with disabilities increases employment of skilled talent, profitability, and retention,” DDS Executive Director Peri Nearon said.

Employer Kenneth Brahl, Senior Director of Labor Relations with Ravitz Family Markets, described his business’ philosophy for disability-inclusion as follows: “It’s something that our company has always done - for 50 years; it is in our DNA.”

“Employers are already having conversations about accommodations with employees every day - discussing leaves of absence or return to work duties after an accident or illness, to telecommuting and job re-design,” said John Sarno, President of the Employers Association of New Jersey.

Special expertise facilitators included Jeff Harmon, founder of Brilliance Within Coaching, and Elaine Katz, senior vice president of The Kessler Foundation, who presented case study interviews featuring some of New Jersey’s 2019 DisabilityIN disability-inclusion in employment award-winning employers.  It also included the National Organization on Disability and International Association of Accessibility Professionals. Also presenting were Joe Zesski, program manager of Cornell’s Northeast ADA Center, NJ Affiliate, and Melissa Keyes DiGioia, co-founder of Finding Your Individuality.

People who registered for today’s event also can participate on October 26 in "Prep to Earn," a free virtual group resume training and interview coaching sessions.