“It’s all about ability and fit. When companies have leaders committed to establishing and managing both, the benefits of hiring people with disabilities far outweigh the investment,” says Mike Brewster, Chief Production Officer, at Monin, a manufacturer of premium flavorings for cocktails, coffees, teas, and more, and a member of the Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA).
In 2015, Mike and other team members from Monin attended a local Disability Employment Awareness Celebration. This is where they were first introduced to Jacob Solar, and everything about the young man impressed them. Jacob was receiving an award for his work at TSE Industries, Inc. Later that fall, Mike received a call from TSE human resource manager, Michelle Hinz-Prange. TSE had run out of work for Jacob, and Michelle strongly recommended that Monin consider hiring him at their facility. Having had a prior positive experience hiring a person with a disability, it was an easy choice for Mike and his team. For Monin, hiring Jacob was putting company values into practice.
Many manufacturers have little experience supervising employees with disabilities, and often have concerns about safety. However, Mike and his team found that with thoughtful leadership, most of the challenges are easily overcome. Monin engages managers and supervisors to identify work tasks and job functions that can be done safely and with minimal risk.
When you hire a person with a disability, research consistently shows that you get a more loyal employee who will work harder and have lower absenteeism and turnover. Jacob is a great example of these attributes. He is very independent, is always on time, and has never missed a day of work. He’s even taken the initiative to move from part-time to full-time work so he is eligible to have health insurance. But, most of all, he is open and honest. Working alongside Jacob has taught others at Monin that open dialogue, done in a respectful way, is an effective way to work together.
A diverse and inclusive workplace starts at the top, says Allison Chase, who manages The Able Trust’s business leadership and exchange program, known as the ABLE Network. The more intentional and direct that business leaders are in their commitment, the more likely it is that others within the company will follow their lead.
If your company is ready to engage an inclusive workforce, consider these tips from The Able Trust to help chart your course:
- · Focus on abilities, not perceived barriers. Workers with disabilities are loyal and flexible problem-solvers with longer-than-average job tenure.
- · Secure support for hiring and assistive technologies. There are many agencies already in your community, as well as tax credits and grants, that can assist and reimburse employers with everything from hiring to training to accommodations.
- · Join the ABLE Network. The ABLE Network is a B2B/peer-to-peer program for business leaders committed to diversity and inclusion. The network fosters business-to-business learning and best practices for disability workforce inclusion. To find out more about how you can enhance your business impact, contact us at Business@AbleTrust.org.
Jacob’s first day at Monin happened to be Mike Brewster’s birthday. He says, “it was a great birthday present…hiring people with disabilities is a win-win with bottom line benefits when done right!”