This business made hiring disabled workers a priority. The result? A thriving workplace.
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CNBC's The Profit

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:

via KrustyKhajiit / YouTube

Thomas F. Wilson played one of the most recognizable villains in film history, Biff Tannen, in the "Back to the Future" series. So, understandably, he gets recognized wherever he goes for the iconic role.

The attention must be nice, but it has to get exhausting answering the same questions day in and day out about the films. So Wilson created a card that he carries with him to hand out to people that answers all the questions he gets asked on a daily basis.

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Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

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"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

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Sometimes a politician says or does something so brazenly gross that you have to do a double take to make sure it really happened. Take, for instance, this tweet from Lauren Witzke, a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate from Delaware. Witzke defeated the party's endorsed candidate to win the primary, has been photographed in a QAnon t-shirt, supports the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was a U.S. government inside operation, and has called herself a flat earther.

So that's neat.

Witzke has also proposed a 10-year total halt on immigration to the U.S., which is absurd on its face, but makes sense when you see what she believes about immigrants. In a tweet this week, Witzke wrote, "Most third-world migrants can not assimilate into civil societies. Prove me wrong."

First, let's talk about how "civil societies" and developing nations are not different things, and to imply that they are is racist, xenophobic, and wrong. Not to mention, it has never been a thing to refer people using terms like "third-world." That's a somewhat outdated term for developing nations, and it was never an adjective to describe people from those nations even when it was in use.

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via WatchMojo / YouTube

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