PBLN discusses How to Get Executives Engaged in Disability Diversity & Inclusion

Four main factors contribute to motivating executives to hire people with disabilities, compliance, public relations, business case and altruism.

The Portland Business Leadership Network (PBLN) discussed this topic at their quarterly meeting on December 11. A guest employer panel also shared their experiences with hiring people with disabilities.

PBLN is an affiliate of the US Business Leadership Network, that helps business drive performance by leveraging disability inclusion in the workplace, supply chain and marketplace.

Dan Friess Executive Director with Incight, a disability services organization in Portland, said during his presentation that compliance is a requirement force, public relations is a marketing motive, the business case concerns growth or gain and altruism is from the heart.

Representatives from Ringside Steakhouse, YMCA Camp Collins, Fred Meyer and Microsoft discussed hiring people with disabilities, the process of getting them on board and the positive outcomes.

Willard Burks with YMCA Camp Collins said he was probably that executive who was a little hesitant about hiring an individual with disabilities. The Camp covers 132 acres with 58 buildings and is busy year round. Willard was concerned about finding a niche for Wayne.

“We worked with basic skills that Wayne has which were helping with housekeeping and general maintenance,” said Willard. “We helped Wayne develop a routine, take ownership of his duties, and this allowed him to find a comfortable niche and grow as a person.”

“We need to be conscious and patient while working with people with disabilities,” said Christopher Turke with Ringside Steakhouse. “It is not that people can’t do the job we just need to be more patient and conscious of their needs and learn to manage differently with someone who has disabilities.”

The Portland Business Leadership Network is striving to help Portland become the nation’s leading metropolitan area for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the work force.

“People with disabilities are also your customers,” said Co-Facilitator Lynn Wiles with Exceed Enterprises. “So we are not here just to support you in terms of being an employer of people with disabilities but also being a business to customers with disabilities.”