October 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Established by the Department of Labor in 1945, NDEAM celebrates America’s workers with disabilities and reminds employers of the importance of inclusive hiring practices.
This year’s NDEAM is especially significant, as 2020 also marks 30 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act prohibited discrimination based on disability, including in the area of employment. It also mandated reasonable accommodations and accessibility for people with disabilities.
In recognition of the ADA’s 30th anniversary, this year’s NDEAM theme is “Increasing Access and Opportunity.” That’s a goal that PRIDE embraces heartily, as it has been part of our mission for more than 50 years.
A Mission of Inclusivity, A History of Success
PRIDE Industries was founded in 1966 as a nonprofit with a straightforward mission: to create jobs for people with disabilities. Since its beginning, PRIDE has adhered to this singular goal, but the paths we’ve taken to carry out our mission have evolved over the years.
When few businesses would hire people with disabilities, PRIDE’s founders decided to create the jobs themselves, making PRIDE a rare entity at the time. Years later, in the early 1980s, PRIDE began selling services to other companies, thus transitioning to a nonprofit social enterprise. We are one of the earliest organizations to demonstrate how effective the social enterprise model can be.
One of the first services offered by PRIDE was kitting and fulfillment. This business line is still important to the company, employing hundreds of people with disabilities, but it is no longer the only service we offer. Today, our employees work in various fields across the country, manufacturing medical devices, maintaining buildings, managing inventory, performing sustainable environmental and custodial services, and providing technical support.
As a nonprofit social enterprise, 100% of PRIDE’s revenue directly supports our mission, allowing us to provide employment services to even more people across the nation. The money earned by our lines of business serves two purposes. It enables us to pay desirable wages and maintain PRIDE’s infrastructure, and it funds our network of support programs for people with disabilities. Today PRIDE employs more than 5,600 people, including more than 3,300 people with disabilities, making us the country’s leading nonprofit employer of people with disabilities.
PRIDE offers a wide range of services to help people who face employment barriers, a population that includes service-injured veterans and former foster youth. We provide job training, employee recruitment, and on-the-job coaching for people of all skill levels. And our personalized approach means that everyone who joins us benefits from a program designed to maximize their success.
A New Path: PRIDE Introduces Inclusive Talent Solutions
At PRIDE, we’ve long known that employees with disabilities can be highly productive. And our employees—through their hard work and dedication—have proven this to our many customers.
But perhaps the biggest proof of our success is the number of companies now seeking our expertise to develop a more inclusive workforce. They’ve realized that employees with diverse abilities make many valuable contributions, and they’ve seen the studies showing that employees with disabilities have high retention rates, low absenteeism, and a positive effect on workplace culture.
But while many companies are now interested in the advantages conferred by an inclusive workforce, few know how to create and maintain a diverse employee base. They lack the workforce planning expertise, internal training tools, or regulatory knowledge needed to work with a diverse population. Because of this, some companies are hesitant to pursue the goal of an inclusive workforce, despite its many advantages.
In keeping with our mission, PRIDE created a new service to help these companies. Inclusive Talent Solutions (ITS) recruits, trains, and provides ongoing coaching for people with disabilities at our partner companies. Our goal is to make it easy for businesses to create an inclusive workforce and decrease the barriers to employment faced by people with disabilities.
ITS represents a new path for PRIDE. It’s yet another way for us to fulfill our mission to support even more people with disabilities. That’s why we’ve chosen to launch this new service in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the NDEAM. The NDEAM is a celebration of the many contributions made by people with disabilities in the workplace. PRIDE is pleased to be able to help more companies benefit from these contributions.