This business made hiring disabled workers a priority. The result? A thriving workplace.

When was the last time you worked with someone who had a developmental disability?

Most of us haven't. Some employers have an implicit assumption that people with those disabilities can't work. But those same employers are being proved wrong by a small but growing workforce that just needed opportunities.


Image by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Businesses that hire people with developmental disabilities are saying it's a great business decision.

Among them are organizations like Smile Farms in Garden City, New York. They put people with disabilities to work in local agriculture, doing everything from farming to sales.

Workers at Smile Farms in Garden City have jobs that benefit their entire community. Image via Smile Farms, Inc./YouTube.

There's also Hugs Café, a Dallas area restaurant that provides cooking classes and dignified jobs for special-needs workers.

Workers at Hugs Café in McKinney, Texas, receive cooking lessons as part of their job training. Image via Hugs Café/YouTube.

People with disabilities are also starting to find jobs at big companies like Walgreens. The company's plan is to fill at least a quarter of their positions with disabled workers.

Since they prioritized hiring disabled workers in their distribution centers, they've seen rises in productivity and safety. At the same time, they've had drops in absenteeism and turnover.

Photo by Phillip Pessar/Flickr.

And a 2014 report by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (I4CP), a research group that "discovers the people practices that drive high performance," found that among 200 companies surveyed, employers rated workers with disabilities as "good to very good" on indicators including dependability, motivation, adaptability, integration with coworkers, and quality of work.

When we drill down to the statistics, it's clear that employers need to do a lot more.

In 2015, 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, the employment situation for disabled adults leaves plenty to be desired.

The last census counted 1.2 million working-age people in the U.S. with intellectual disabilities. According to I4CP, 85% of them don't have paying jobs.

That's a lot of folks being denied a fair chance to earn a living and to enjoy the independence and sense of purpose that comes with having a job.

But change is starting to seem inevitable for developmentally disabled workers.

There aren't many workers' causes that draw the kind of diverse (and powerful) support this one is receiving.

Nick Shepis, a worker at Smile Farms, takes a moment from watering seedlings to share a smile. Image via HooplaHa/YouTube.

Proponents of disability employment include business leaders, the National Governors Association, millions of people in the disabled community, and their non-disabled allies. They want employers to hire based on people's abilities, not their disabilities.

This year's National Disability Employment Awareness Month just came to a close. With all of these signs, I'm hopeful that by next year's we'll have more reasons to celebrate.

Watch a video from Smile Farms and see the business in action:

More
True
CNBC's The Profit

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Life for a shelter dog, even if it's a comfortable shelter administered by the ASPCA with as many amenities as can be afforded, is still not the same as having the comfort and safety of a forever home. Professional violinist Martin Agee knows that and that's why he volunteers himself and his instrument to help.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Friends For Life Animal Rescue and Adoption Organization - Houston

Recidivism is a real problem for some shelter cats. Quilty, a seven-year-old domestic shorthair, was born in the Friends For Life Animal Rescue and Adoption Organization (FFL), a Houston-area animal shelter. Named after Claire Quilty in Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita," Quilty was recently returned to the shelter he was born in after his adopter moved and couldn't bring him along. He immediately started causing trouble.


Quilty knows how to open doors, and liberated the other captive cats in the shelter like some kind of feline Simon Bolivar. "Quilty loves to let cats out of the senior room. Repeatedly, several times a day," the shelter wrote on Facebook. "Quilty will not be contained. And he has no shame."

Quilty was caught and sentenced solitary confinement (i.e. left to sit behind a glass door) for the jail breaks, looking adorably sad yet showing no remorse.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Toni Hukkanen on Unsplash

Are looks more important than the ability to get through a long work day without ending up with eyes so dry and painful you wish you could pop them out of your face? Many employers in Japan don't permit their female employees to wear glasses while at work. Big shocker, male employees are totally allowed to sport a pair of frames. The logic behind it (if you can call it that) is that women come off as "cold" and "unfeminine" and – horror of all horrors – "too intelligent."

Women are given excuses as to why they can't wear glasses to work. Airline workers are told it's a safety thing. Beauty industry workers are told they need to see makeup clearly. But men apparently don't have the same safety issues as women, because they're allowed to wear their glasses square on the face. Hospitality staff, waitresses, receptionists at department stores, and nurses at beauty clinics are some of the women who are told to pop in contacts while they're on the clock.

Keep Reading Show less
popular