Hiring People With Disabilities Is Good Business

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By: Ted Kennedy Jr.

Microsoft, Bank of America and CVS are just a few big companies that profit from their proactive employment practices.

For years, companies have maintained low expectations about hiring people with disabilities. Most of these companies believed that employees with disabilities could not perform well in the workplace and that actively hiring them would drag company performance and profits down.

Thankfully, over time, many employers have come to understand that these perceptions are untrue. And new research strongly suggests that the opposite — that hiring people with disabilities is good for business.

A recent study has shown, for the first time, that companies that championed people with disabilities actually outperformed others — driving profitability and shareholder returns. Revenues were 28 percent higher, net income 200 percent higher, and profit margins 30 percent higher. Companies that improved internal practices for disability inclusion were also four times more likely to see higher total shareholder returns.

These findings, presented in a report from Accenture, in partnership with Disability: IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities, give companies a new reason to hire people with disabilities. The results are based on an analysis of the financial performance of 140 companies that averaged annual revenues of $43 billion and participated in the Disability Equality Index, an annual benchmarking tool that objectively rates company disability policies and practices.

What exactly are these exemplary companies doing?

Well, Bank of America brought together 300 people with intellectual disabilities to create a support services team to manage fulfillment services and external client engagement. Microsoft built a successful disability hiring program specifically for people on the autism spectrum. The program, designed to attract talent, is a multiday, hands-on academy that gives candidates an opportunity to meet hiring managers and learn about the company as an employer of choice. And CVS Health refocused its training programs to capitalize on characteristics — creativity, problem-solving ability and loyalty — that people with disabilities often demonstrate.

The new research identifies five common denominators among such organizations. First, they hire people with disabilities, ensuring that they’re represented in the workplace. Second, they carry out practices that encourage and advance those employees. Third, they provide accessible tools and technologies, paired with a formal accommodations program. Fourth, they generate awareness through recruitment efforts, disability education programs and grass-roots-led initiatives. Fifth, they create empowering environments through mentoring and coaching initiatives.

Continue onto the New York Times to read the complete article.

What It’s Like Living and Working With a Chronic Illness

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woman writing in journal about managing chronic illness and work

By Alex Haagaard

It’s 6 AM and your alarm is going off. You hit the snooze button, hoping for a few more minutes of sleep before you drag yourself out of bed. This is a morning routine most people are familiar with. But for workers with chronic illness, it can look very different.

Five years ago, I was working as a research assistant at a design school. I was also struggling with several undiagnosed illnesses, including narcolepsy, an immune condition, and a painful connective tissue disorder. Every night I’d set twelve alarms, turn the volume up, and plug my phone in on the other side of my bedroom. And every morning I’d sleep through them all. I started every day feeling like I’d already run a marathon and been hit by a truck as I crossed the finish line.

Why It’s So Hard to Work With Chronic Illness

In many cases, chronic illness limits how much you can get done in a day. You start with limited energy levels, and when you add in things like chronic pain and immune problems, everyday tasks can drain your batteries before you even get to work. (Not to mention that doctors’ appointments and endless phone calls chasing after prescriptions and referrals can take hours out of your day.)

Learning to manage your energy levels is essential when living with chronic illness. You get used to checking in with your body, assessing how much any activity will cost you, and creating a kind of energy budget to figure out exactly what you can get done without pushing your body past its breaking point. But what happens when there’s just no way to balance the budget?

This is a huge challenge in workplace cultures that place a premium on constant productivity. Chronically ill employees often end up going into energy debt trying to keep up with what’s expected of them. Pushing your limits is often seen as a way of committing to your own personal development, but it can have a serious negative impact on your personal life and health, especially if you have a chronic illness.

Caitlin has fibromyalgia and currently works from home, but she used to work in retail. “My quality of life at the time was non-existent,” she says. “I couldn’t do anything except lie in bed or on the couch when I wasn’t at work. I couldn’t even job hunt because the pain and fatigue were so severe that I couldn’t think straight. I ended up quitting with nothing lined up.”

Chronic illness is also unpredictable. It’s one thing to manage your finances when you know how much money is coming in every month, but as any freelancer will tell you, making long-term plans becomes a lot more difficult without that certainty. Similarly, when you’re working with chronic illness, you often find yourself in a position of having to create weekly or monthly energy budgets without knowing what resources you’ll have at your disposal from one day to the next.

No, We’re Not Just Lazy and Incompetent

When your illness is invisible, you often face doubt from colleagues. Laura, a middle school teacher with an immune disorder, also struggles with PTSD because of harassment she faced at her previous job.

“I was told I was being ridiculous and overdramatic, that I was ‘letting kids down and setting a bad example’ by not pushing myself,” she says. Even after leaving that job, that experience continued to impact her work relationships. “It took probably five years in my current position before I didn’t have anxiety attacks if my boss needed to speak to me or I needed to speak to my boss about something.”

When you’re chronically ill, it often feels like doubt rules your life. People doubt that you’re sick. They doubt how hard you’re trying. They doubt that you’ll follow through on your commitments. And eventually, you begin to doubt yourself.

“To be uncomfortably honest, I am probably more disappointed in myself than [others] are,” says Kristina, a designer and digital modeler who has epilepsy. Struggling with even the most basic adulting tasks can leave her riddled with self-doubt, she explains: “One day I am fully capable of a task while the next day I struggle with generally simple things like brushing my teeth or getting dressed.”

When your abilities change so dramatically from one day to the next, you can end up questioning your own grip on reality. You know none of this is your fault, but deep down you can’t help but wonder if maybe, somehow, it is.

How I’ve Made Working, Work For Me

Three years ago, I had to stop working in my chosen field so that I could begin working full-time as a patient. And it was work, even though I wasn’t getting paid for any of it. My weekdays were suddenly filled with doctors’ appointments, lab tests, and phone calls to social services. I essentially had to become an administrative assistant to the six clinics I was dealing with, a biomedical researcher, and a health justice advocate. Just like my previous jobs, I often felt like I was just barely treading water, trying not to drown.

Last spring, I finally received the diagnoses I was fighting for and this fall, I went back to work as a consultant with a disability-led design group. Although I expected to feel overjoyed about returning to paid work, I’d become so used to struggling and failing that for weeks all I felt was terror.

But I’m still there, loving the work and starting feel more confident that I can actually do this. I’m also realizing that my experiences with chronic illness can be an asset. They’ve made me conscientious about time management, connected me to an amazing community of disabled creatives, and given me insights into how public systems and services are designed—for better and for worse.

Here are three key things that have helped me succeed in my new job:

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

PEAT’s 2019 Future of Work Podcast Launch Spotlights Inclusive Apprenticeship

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Two men sitting at conference table, one man in a wheelchair

The Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) recently launched the 2019 season of their Future of Work podcast. This podcast is a partnership with the leading HR blog Workology.com to explore how emerging technology trends in the workplace are impacting people with disabilities.

The first episode, How to Create a Global Apprenticeship Program, features a conversation about accessible technology apprenticeship programs with Neil Milliken, Global Head of Accessibility & Inclusion for Atos. Companies worldwide are striving to make their products accessible, but face a shortage of talent due to the accessible technology skills gap. Apprenticeship programs are helping Atos to quickly bring in new and more diverse talent with these in-demand skills.

Continue on to Peatworks.org for the Podcast and the conversation.

Headed to Disability:IN 2019? Discover The Magnificent Mile!

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Picture of the Marriott Hotel on Chicago's Magnificent Mile with a sunset background and other tall buildings

While you’re in town for the 2019 Disability:IN 22nd Annual National Conference & Expo July 15–18, 2019, check out some of the fine food that Chicago is so well known for. We’ve assembled a list of several accessible restaurants, as well as shopping, other necessities, and the transportation to get you there.

All these businesses are within easy reach of the Disability:IN host hotel, the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, located on downtown Michigan Avenue. This popular area of Michigan Avenue offers much to see and do, with fine hotels, restaurants, shopping, art, music, architecture, museums and parks.

Restaurants

312 Chicago

Italian

136 N. La Salle St

(312) 696-2420

Elevator use, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Spiaggia

Italian

980 North Michigan Ave

(312) 280-3300

No steps, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Chicago Cut Steakhouse

Steaks

300 N LaSalle

312.389.1800

Elevator use, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Cocoro

Japanese

668 N Wells St

(312) 943-2220

No steps, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Coco Pazzo Café

Italian

636 N Saint Clair St

(312) 664-2777

WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Epic Restaurant

Contemporary American

112 West Hubbard Street

(312) 222-4940

Private dining not accessible, WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Frankie’s Pizzeria & Scaloppine

Italian

900 N Michigan Ave

(312) 266-2500

No steps, WC-accessible seating, accessible bar area, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Big Bowl

Chinese

60 E Ohio St

(312) 951-1888

WC-accessible seating, accessible restroom, lobby entry fully accessible

Accessible Transportation

Open Taxis

Centralized dispatch service for all Chicago wheelchair-accessible vehicles

(855) 928-1010 or (773) 657-3006 (direct line for pickup)

Special Needs Chicago

Wheelchair-accessible nonemergency transportation provider

(630) 668-9999

Shopping, Pharmacy & Dry Cleaning

The Shops at North Bridge

520 N Michigan Ave

(312) 327-2300

Walgreens Pharmacy

757 N Michigan Ave

(312) 664-8686

Randolph Cleaners

100 W Randolph St #209

(312) 357-6433

Register for the 2019 Disability:IN Conference at Disability:IN.org

Sources: wheelchairjimmy.com, choosechicago.com

Expansion of Best Practices leads to 19,745 new jobs for Californians with Disabilities

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man sitting in a wheelchair at his desk talking on the phone while looking at his computer screen

By Philip Kahn-Pauli, RespectAbility Policy and Practices Director

Washington, D.C., April 9 – Nationwide 111,804 people with disabilities got new jobs last year, including 19,745 new jobs for Californians with disabilities. The Golden State now ranks 35th among the 50 states in terms of the employment rate for people with disabilities.

The newly published 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium shows there are 1,980,677 working-age (ages 18-64) people with disabilities living in California. Out of that number, 721,536 have jobs. That means California has a disability employment rate of 36.4 percent.

Further analysis by the nonpartisan advocacy group RespectAbility shows that California’s disability employment rate has slowly increased over the past two years. However, even as more and more people with disabilities are entering California’s workforce, other smaller states such as North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah have higher employment rates for their citizens with disabilities.

The economic exclusion of people with disabilities is reflected in the stories that Hollywood tells. According to a recent report by The Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at USC, only 2.7 percent of all speaking or named characters in film were shown to have a disability in 2016. According to GLAAD’s reporting, less than two percent of characters on television have a disability.

The disability community in California is hopeful that newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom will prove himself to be a strong ally in the Governor’s mansion. Diagnosed with dyslexia at age five, Newsome has been open about his experiences with an invisible disability.

California is also home to a range of best practices and programs to empower people with disabilities into the workforce. Project SEARCH is a perfect example of the types of opportunities now open to more and more youth with disabilities in California. SEARCH is a unique, employer-driven transition program that prepares students with disabilities for employment success. In California, new partnerships between the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nonprofit Best Buddies and Kaiser Permanente are having transformative impacts on the lives of young people with disabilities. Nationally and locally, more than 70 percent of Project SEARCH alumni now have jobs.

California has a unique network of Regional Centers, originally established in the 1960s, which provide legally mandated support and services. The state also adopted a Competitive Integrated Employment Blueprint just last year to promote competitive job opportunities for all.

“Clearly California leaders understand the steps needed to increase employment opportunities for those with disabilities,” added Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. “But what is also evident from the data is that more needs to be done.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said Hon. Steve Bartlett, current Chairman of RespectAbility, who co-authored the Americans with Disabilities Act when he was in Congress. “People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else.”

A National Issue

Beyond California, how is the workforce changing for people with disabilities? What is driving these changes? The answer is simple. According to Vincenzo Piscopo of the Coca-Cola Company: “People with disabilities bring a unique skill set that it is very valuable for companies.” He went on to add, “As it relates to employment and competitiveness in the workplace, we have to stop thinking of disability as a liability and start thinking of it as an asset.”

Brand-name companies such as JP Morgan Chase, Coca-Cola, Ernst & Young, IBM, Walgreen’s, Starbucks, CVS and Microsoft show people with disabilities are successful employees. These companies also know that these workers improve the bottom line. “People with disabilities bring unique characteristics and talents to the workplace,” said RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “Hiring people with disabilities is a win-win-win for employers, people with disabilities and consumers alike.”

As more companies hire employees with disabilities, conversations are shifting to focus on inclusion. “Disability inclusion is no longer about automatic doors, curb cuts, ramps, and legislation,” says Jim Sinocchi, Head of the Office of Disability Inclusion at JP Morgan Chase. “Today, the new era of disability inclusion is about “assimilation” – hiring professionals with disabilities into the robust culture of the firm.”

According to the Census Bureau, there are more than 56 million Americans living with a disability. Disabilities include visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, visual impairments or hearing loss and invisible disabilities such as learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.

An Election Issue

Voter research, conducted by RespectAbility, shows how disability issues connect to all aspects of American life. “Fully three-quarters of likely voters either have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities,” said former Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. “People with disabilities are politically active swing voters, and candidates should take note of the important issues they care about.”

As 2019 moves into 2020 and the political campaign season heats up, continuing job growth for people with disabilities will be a crucial indicator of the health of the American economy.

Continue on to RespectAbilityReport.org to read more.

CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Showcases Innovations For a More Inclusive World

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Photo by Lee Choo

By Jacob Bennett

The CSUN Assistive Technology Conference has a specific purpose — to advance knowledge and the use of technology that improves the lives of individuals with disabilities — but its impact is wide-ranging.

In addition to companies that specialize in such things as captioning technology for people who are deaf and hard of hearing and voice-controlled devices for people who are visually impaired, the 34th annual conference, held March 11-15 in Anaheim, was attended by representatives from banks, grocery stores, retail chains, medical companies, airlines and many more companies with vast customer bases.

If attendees weren’t developing assistive technology, they were certainly interested in using it.

At a corner booth in the bustling exhibit hall, the three-person team from Feelif, a tech company from Slovenia, found themselves addressing a steady stream of potential business partners. There was no time to check out other areas of the conference, as the Feelif team was busy showing off their premium tablet for people who are blind and visually impaired, which uses vibrations to simulate the experience of feeling Braille dots.

“It’s very busy,” said Rebeka Zerovnik, the company’s international business development associate. “We don’t have enough people to work the booth.”

The 34th CSUN Assistive Technology Conference — organized by the California State University, Northridge Center on Disabilities, and known in the industry as the CSUN Conference — attracted exhibitors, researchers, consumers, practitioners, government representatives and speakers from around the world.

For the first time, the conference was held at the Anaheim Marriott after a long run in San Diego. The change of venue didn’t seem to hurt attendance — final attendance numbers hadn’t been tallied early this week, but attendance approached 5,000.

Peter Korn, director of accessibility for Amazon Lab126, a research and development team that designs and engineers high-profile consumer electronic devices such as Fire tablets and Amazon Echo, said this was his 28th CSUN Conference, beginning when he was with Berkeley Systems, which developed the outSPOKEN screen reader so that Macintosh computers could be used by people who were blind or partially sighted, and continuing for the past five years with Amazon. In that time, he said, the company has dramatically expanded its footprint at the conference.

“CSUN is the premier assistive technology conference in the world,” Korn said. “Of course we’re here.”

The conference included more than 300 educational sessions, with updates on state-of-the-art technology as well as insights into where the industry is headed. For example, attendees could learn about how artificial intelligence will be critical to improving assistive technology applications, and best practices for including people with disabilities in usability studies.

A seventh annual Journal on Technology and People with Disabilities will be published after the conference and will highlight the proceedings from the conference’s science and research track.

A highlight of the conference was the exhibit hall, where 122 booths showcased time-tested and brand-new solutions. A wristband used sonar to locate obstacles near people with visual impairments, then vibrated to help navigate around the obstacles. An app connected people who are blind or have low vision to trained agents who serve as “on-demand eyes.” A real-time transcription and captioning service helped students who are deaf and hard of hearing access distance-learning courses.

The new venue kept all informational sessions and the exhibit hall on the same floor, which had not been the case in San Diego.

“We were very pleased to see that the attendance stayed strong at our new venue for the 2019 event,” Sandy Plotin, managing director of the Center on Disabilities. “The benefits of having all the conference activities consolidated on one floor in a ‘mini-convention’ space seems to be providing the positive outcome we were looking for. I’ve heard people say they’ve been able to network even more, and that’s probably the most important component to having a successful conference experience.”

Johanna Lucht, the first NASA engineer who is deaf and who has taken an active role in the control room during a crewed test flight, delivered a keynote address that aimed to remove barriers to developing assistive technology. She noted that many of the most beneficial technologies for people with disabilities were not designed with that purpose. As an example, she noted that ridesharing services such as Uber removed potential miscommunications that occurred when people who are deaf and hard of hearing ordered taxis through interpreter services — the new apps have enabled people to type in exact addresses.

Conversely, closed captioning can benefit even people without disabilities: For example, it enables people to understand what sportscasters on TV are saying in a noisy and crowded bar.

Lucht noted that assistive technologies are designed to level the playing field for people with disabilities, which implies a sense of “catching up.” Instead, she advocated for designers to think in terms of “universal design,” identifying potential barriers and fixing them before products are launched. She showed a zoo fence that would disrupt the view for visitors in wheelchairs. An assistive design would install a ramp to see over the fence, she said. A universal-design alternative would be a see-through barrier that provides views for everyone.

“The point I’m making is, society is too hung up on the definition behind assistive technology,” Lucht said. “This technology can also benefit everyone.”

What Is an Intrapreneur and Why Does Everyone Want to Hire Them Right Now?

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disabled entrepreneur

Sure, there’s plenty of talk nowadays about entrepreneurs and freelancers—people who work for themselves, set their own days, and run their own businesses. But there’s another crew in town that’s becoming increasingly popular: intrapreneurs.

If you’re not familiar with this term, you’re not alone.

The first time I heard it was from William Arruda, a global personal branding expert whose clients include many Fortune 100 companies and the author of Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand. In it, he describes an intrapreneur as “a person who demonstrates an entrepreneurial spirit within an organization.”

This concept shows just how much the employee-employer relationship has evolved. And when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense in today’s working world. Employees are demanding more freedom and autonomy in order to grow. And employers are understanding the need to create a strong company culture that retains top talent and fosters innovation.

The result? Companies are eager to welcome and embrace people who are creative, proactive, and flexible—in other words, intrapreneurs. I’ll explain what it means to be one and the benefits they bring to employers—and how you can be an intrapreneur, too.

What Is an Intrapreneur?

In many ways, an intrapreneur could be considered an in-house entrepreneur. If we go back to Arruda’s definition, this group of people is classified as having an “entrepreneurial spirit.”

So, what does that mean, exactly?

Well, entrepreneurs are driven by the desire to create new services or products. In doing so, they develop original ideas, think beyond what’s already been done, and are always looking to provide valuable solutions to common problems. They’re personally invested in achieving a successful outcome.

The same thing can be said about intrapreneurs. They’re creative freethinkers who are passionate about sharing new ways to get things done. The difference is, they operate within a company rather than solo. While no one’s job title is likely to be “intrapreneur,” you can adopt the mindset in pretty much any role.

What Are the Characteristics of an Intrapreneur?

You can instantly spot an intrapreneur within a company because they treat their job as if it were their own business. Also, an intrapreneur’s ingenuity makes them a star employee—they’re always coming up with resourceful ways to approach challenging situations.

Here are some more characteristics that make them truly special.

They’re Authentic

An intrapreneur’s greatest trait is being consistently humble and sincere—whether it’s in an email, meeting, or passing conversation. This makes them experts at establishing trust and highly respected and liked throughout a company.

They’re Savvy Collaborators

Ever known someone who can pick up the phone to ask for a favor or information and get an immediate response? Well, that’s a classic intrapreneur move. As masters of building relationships, they never run out of people to contact who are willing to help—because they’d do the same in return.

They’re Highly Confident

It takes a certain level of confidence to express creative ideas and proactively start a project. Intrapreneurs are risk-takers, so they trust their actions and aren’t afraid to try something different or learn from trial and error.

They’re Uber Resilient

Whether it’s about finding an answer to an ongoing problem or hammering out the details of a new plan, an intrapreneur won’t give up. An intrapreneur is not easily deterred and hasn’t met a challenge they’re not willing to tackle head-on.

They Have Strong Personal Brands

Intrapreneurs are highly aware of how they communicate their unique strengths and work hard to maintain a positive external reputation in order to promote their expertise and services. Because their professional image is important to them, they also have just as strong of a presence online as they do in person.

Why Are Intrapreneurs So Valuable to a Company?

You may think, “Hmmm… Wouldn’t these kinds of people be perceived as a threat to a company’s success? And wouldn’t they just take off the second something better came along?”

But it’s actually to a company’s advantage to have employees who take ownership of their work. Employees who feel like their talent and contributions matter (for real) will work smarter, feel more satisfied, and bring forth their best ideas—which will ultimately become the company’s ideas and products.

Some may fear that allowing employees to be too innovative will lead to folks using what they do at work to benefit their own side hustle. However, even if that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as there’s no conflict of interest (for example, working on outside projects during work hours or working on something that’s a direct competitor to the company).

Why Should You Be an Intrapreneur, and How Can You Be One at Any Company?

So as you’re thinking of ways to grow your career, consider how the mindset of an intrapreneur is also an asset to your own brand and success. Sure, your ideas are going toward a company’s vision, but you know where else they’re going? Into your resume and LinkedIn profile—your own portfolio!

Every successful initiative you’re a part of gives you concrete examples of scenarios when you took action and delivered results. This increases your potential to make more money and access more growth opportunities down the road (for example, a promotion, a new role you get to define, or a completely new start somewhere else). Plus, being an intrapreneur allows you to pursue a passion project with the added benefit of having a company’s resources and budget—as opposed to having to start from scratch and launch it all on your own.

As an intrapreneur, your experience is tied to in-demand skills that are transferable anywhere you go, instead of a specific job title.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

Top Organizations to Receive Diversity and Inclusion Honors Award At Annual Conference

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The Association of ERGs & Councils(a practice group of PRISM International, Inc.) released their annual list of the Top 25 US Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), Business Resource Groups (BRGs) and Diversity Councils set to receive the tenth annual 2019 ERG & Council Honors Award™ at an award ceremony during the 2019 ERG & Council Conference in Orlando May 3rd.

The 2019 ERG & Council Honors Award™ is the only annual national award that recognizes and honors the outstanding contributions and achievements of ERGs, BRGs and Diversity Councils. It was established in 2008 by the Association of ERGs & Councils, a practice group of diversity and inclusion consulting and training firm PRISM International, Inc.

The 2019 ERG & Council Honors Award™ recipients are a diverse combination of US organizations representing most sectors, geographies and sizes. “This year we had a diverse pool of highly qualified applications representing 1,079 ERGs, BRGs, Diversity Councils and their chapters,” states Fernando Serpa, Executive Director of the Association of ERGs & Councils. “We also had several non-Top 25 groups demonstrate best practices and results that deserve to be recognized and they will be receiving the Spotlight Impact Award™ that highlights the achievements of these select groups in the categories of Organizational Impact, Talent Management and Culture of Inclusion.”

This year, for the first time, the Association of ERGs and Councils will bestow the honor of Top Executive Sponsor of the Year. “We wanted to recognize and call out the important role executive sponsors play in developing, supporting and enabling their ERGs and Councils to succeed,” Serpa said.

The 2019 ERG & Council Honors Award™ Top 25 recipient rankings will be revealed at the May 3 award ceremony at the Disney Yacht & Beach Club Resort in Orlando, Florida. The Award Ceremony and Conference is open to all diversity and inclusion professionals involved with ERGs, BRGs and Councils.  This is a great opportunity for individuals to learn and share best practices, network, grow and celebrate, to become inspired and be renewed…all for the purpose of increasing their impact on key organizational and business objectives. Learn more by visiting ErgCouncilConference.com.

The 2019 ERG & Council Honors Award™ recipients in alphabetical order include:

  • American Airlines – American Airlines Diversity Advisory Council
  • Atrium Health – Atrium Health Divisional Diversity Councils
  • Bank of America – Military Support & Assistance Group ( MSAG)
  • Cleveland Clinic – ClinicPride Employee Resource Group (ClinicPride ERG)
  • Cleveland Clinic – Military/Veterans Employee Resource Group
  • Cleveland Clinic – SALUD
  • Davenport University – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council
  • Entergy Corporation – Entergy Employee Resource Group
  • Erie Insurance – Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council
  • Froedtert Health – Froedtert Health Diversity Council
  • General Motors – General Motors Employee Resource Group Council
  • KeyBank – Key Business Impact and Networking Groups
  • Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals – Mallinckrodt Inclusion & Diversity Council
  • Mount Sinai Queens, part of the Mount Sinai Health System – Mount Sinai Queens Diversity Council
  • Mount Sinai St. Luke’s, part of the Mount Sinai Health System – Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Diversity Council
  • National Guard – Joint Diversity Executive Council
  • Northern Trust Corporation – Advancing Professionals Resource Council (APRC)
  • Northern Trust Corporation – Women In Leadership Business Resource Council (WIL BRC)
  • Northwestern Mutual – Asian ERG
  • Northwestern Mutual – Northwestern Mutual Women’s Employee Resource Group
  • Novant Health – Asian Business Resource Group
  • PNC Financial Services Group – Corporate Diversity Council
  • State Street Corporation – Professional Women’s Network – Massachusetts Chapter (PWN-MA)
  • Texas Instruments – Texas Instruments Diversity Network (TIDN)
  • Turner, Inc. – Turner Business Resource Groups
  • U.S. Bank – Spectrum LGBTQ Business Resource Group
  • U.S. Bank – U.S. Bank Proud to Serve

The 2019 Spotlight Impact Award™ recipients in alphabetical order include:

  • Dominion Energy – Dominion Energy Executive Diversity Council (EDC)
  • FedEx Services – Diversity and Inclusion BRT Council
  • Food Lion – Diversity and Inclusion
  • MUFG Union Bank, N.A. – Women’s Initiative Network (WIN)
  • Summa Health – Diversity and Advisory Council

The 2019 Executive Sponsor of the Year recipients in alphabetical order:

  • FedEx Services Diversity and Inclusion BRT Council – Rebecca Huling
  • Perdue Farms Inclusion Council – Randy Day
  • Southern California Edison Company (SCE) Women’s Roundtable (WR) – Maria Rigatti
  • U.S. Bank Proud to Serve – Mike Ott

About the ERG & Council Honors Award™
The ERG & Council Honors Award™ is the only annual national award that recognizes, honors and celebrates the outstanding contributions and achievements of ERGs, BRGs and Diversity Councils that lead the diversity and inclusion process in their organizations and demonstrate results in their workforce, workplace and marketplace. Learn more by visiting ERG & Council Honors Award™.

About the ERG & Council Conference™
ERGs and Diversity Councils are vital links for improving organizational results. However, to remain impactful and effective, they need opportunities to increase their skills and knowledge and to learn and share best practices. They need opportunities to network, celebrate and grow. This is the purpose of the only annual conference designed specifically for ERGs, BRGs and Diversity Councils. Learn more by visiting ERGCouncilConference.com.

About the Association of ERGs & Councils
The Association of ERGs & Councils is a practice group of PRISM International Inc. and the premier resource for transforming Employee Resource Groups, Diversity Councils and Employee Network Groups to impact key organizational and business objectives. Learn more by visiting the ErgCouncil.com.

About PRISM International, Inc.
PRISM International Inc., a Talent Dimensions company, is a WBENC-certified, full-service provider of innovative and proven consulting, training and products for leveraging diversity and inclusion, addressing unconscious bias, increasing cross-cultural competencies and creating more effective ERGs and Diversity Councils. Learn more by visiting PrismDiversity.com

Cliché Answers to the Most Common Interview Questions

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man and women in a job interview

By Brianna Flavin

The internet offers a massive amount of job interview advice, sample questions and potential responses. When you are trying to land a job, it’s easy to devour this advice in bulk, but that might actually be more detrimental to your career than you realize.

What’s resulted is hiring managers hearing the same cliché responses over and over again. When your objective is to learn about applicants to determine if they will be a good fit for the position, and they all say their biggest flaw is “perfectionism,” it’s frustrating, to say the least.

As a job seeker, you want to do your homework and come to the interview prepared to answer the most common interview questions. But how can you avoid sounding like an echo of every other candidate?

“The preferred response to any question is one that is honest and upfront,” says staffing and onboarding coach Jen Teague. Ideally, your circumstances, interests and aspirations will factor into every answer, leaving your interviewer with a clear and accurate impression of who you are.

To get you started in the right direction—and to help you steer clear of some responses that could leave a bad impression—we asked hiring managers to share the most cliché answers they encounter when interviewing job candidates. See what the folks in the hiring seats are sick of hearing and their advice on how to craft a more impressive response.

  1. Why would you excel at this job?

What NOT to say: “I like working with people.”

“This is one of the most robotic answers a candidate could provide,” according to Beth Tucker, CEO of KNF&T Staffing Resources. She says though it might seem like a friendly answer, it doesn’t actually reveal anything about you as a person or employee.

“Most people like to work with other people,” Tucker explains. “Instead of saying this, try thinking of the core message you’re trying to communicate.” Are you an especially strong communicator? Do you work harder when you’re collaborating with coworkers on a project? Do you enjoy delegating responsibility?

“You’re much better off giving an example that demonstrates your abilities,” Tucker says.

A better approach: Talk about a team project where you interacted with a diverse group of people—or difficult people. This will have a much bigger impact and make a better impression on the interviewer.

  1. What do you know about our company?

What NOT to say: “Not much. I was hoping you could tell me.”

“This answer highlights your lack of initiative and preparation,” says Mike Smith, founder of SalesCoaching1. He urges to always do your research on any company you are interviewing with and come prepared to dazzle.

A better approach: Smith suggests a statement that displays what you understand about the company and what you might still want clarification on. An example is, “I found your annual report and noticed your company has grown your market share and is opening other branches. What is the next location planned?”

  1. Why do you want to be in this business?

What NOT to say: “It looks like a cool company to work for.”

This vague enthusiasm also reveals a lack of research. Smith says experienced interviewers hear this same answer time and time again. Why would you prefer to work for this company, rather than some of their competitors? Even if you do plan to interview at both companies, you are better off being specific.

A better approach: “I have done a lot of research in this marketplace. Your company and your competitors (name them) are in the fastest growing sector. I want to be a part of that growth.”

  1. Why did you apply for this position?

What NOT to say: “I want to get my career started.”

“The worst cliché answer I receive is something along the lines of, ‘I’m not picky about my position; I just want a chance to work,’” says Shell Harris, President of Big Oak Studios Inc. He says this kind of answer typically comes from the mouths of college graduates having difficulty landing their first job.

“When I hear this response, I am thinking this person is desperate to work and will say anything to get any job, even a job they may not like,” Harris says. He adds that this is often an indicator that the candidate will continue job searching even if he or she does land the position. He believes applicants who have specific expectations about what kind of work they will do in the company come off much better.

“It tells me they understand what we do, how they can help and, most importantly, that they want to be a part of the company,” Harris says. “Sure, I believe they want to work, but they aren’t being honest with me or themselves if they say they’ll take any job.”

A better approach: Talk about what the role you’re applying for does for you. Could it help you develop a skill you’re hoping to sharpen? Does it align with your strengths or expertise? What excites you about the position?

  1. What is your biggest weakness as an employee?

What NOT to say: “I’m a perfectionist.”

This is one of the biggest clichés out there in interviewing world. “The age-old advice about spinning any negative about yourself into a positive only works when it’s specific,” says Gail Abelman, recruiter at Staffing Perfection.

“I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard people tell me, ‘I’m a perfectionist,’ or ‘I’m too honest,’” she says. “These are about as cliché and phony as it gets.”

“You can tell immediately when people are not being genuine,” says Rebecca Baggett, Director of Human Resources at Bigger Pockets. She says responses like ‘I’m a perfectionist’ or ‘I’m too loyal’ really communicate either a lack of honesty or a lack of self-awareness. “I always appreciate when a candidate says, ‘I messed up and this is how I corrected the situation,’” she says.

Ableman advises telling a story to answer this kind of question. It will sound more personal and realistic, and you will provide your interviewer with a better picture of who you are and what it will be like to hire you.

A better approach: Describe an issue you experienced at a previous job, the problem you had solving it and the steps you took to ultimately overcome it.

  1. What are your long-term goals?

What NOT to say: “I want to move up within the company.”

Advancement might seem like the only right answer to give to this question, but thinking of your goals in terms of a one line track to the top is actually rather limiting. Teague says personal goals as well as professional goals can play into your answer here, particularly if they could intersect (i.e., Wanting to learn another language).

Once again, get specific. Your interviewer wants to know what motivates you. Try to think beyond a larger paycheck and detail some goals that make you excited about what you do.

A better approach: Explain that you’re motivated to advance as a professional, and list some particular goals you’d like to achieve (both personal and professional).

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

What NOT to say: “No, I think you covered them all.”

This answer if often on the tip of everyone’s jittery tongue at the close of an interview, but it reveals no preparation or willingness to research the industry, according to Smith. As this is often the question that will conclude the interview, your response has the potential to leave a particularly lasting impression.

Smith suggests thanking interviewers for what they did cover and offering at least one, in-depth question. You can riff off something they already mentioned in the interview or bring up something you found in your research. “This shows a business maturity and a professional approach,” Smith adds.

A better approach: Ask about a recent announcement you encountered in your research or ask the interviewer about what brought them to the company.

About Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college that is dedicated to changing lives and the communities it serves through high-demand and flexible educational programs. Since 1900, the College has been committed to academic innovation and empowering students to pursue a college degree. Rasmussen College offers certificate and diploma programs through associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in seven schools of study including business, health sciences, nursing, technology, design, education and justice studies.

Source: Rasmussen.edu

40 incredibly useful things you didn’t know Google Search could do

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Young woman working with computer

Take your search game to the next level with these tools that’ll save you time and help you get more done.

When you think about Google services, apps such as Gmail, Docs, and Photos may be the first things that come to mind. I’d be willing to wager, though, that the Google service you use more than any other is one you rarely think about—because it’s woven so tightly into your life that it doesn’t even feel like a service anymore. It just feels like a utility, something that’s always there—like a faucet for metaphorical water.

I’m talking, of course, about Google Search, the gateway to an endless-seeming array of answers and information. But these days, Google Search can do a whole lot more than just look up simple queries. In fact, if you know all of its hidden powers, Search can be a Swiss Army knife that’s always within reach, even when you aren’t actively thinking about its presence.

Browse through these 40 advanced functions—and get ready to see Search in a whole new light.

Useful tools

1. Need an impartial judge to help make a decision? Try typing “random number generator” into Google. That’ll bring up a tool that lets you specify a minimum and maximum number—for however many choices you have, or even representing a specific set of values within a spreadsheet—and then have the Google genie randomly pick a number within that range.

For a more visual (although also more limited) version of the same concept, type “spinner” into Google and then switch the toggle at the top to “Number.” You can then create a wheel with anywhere from two to 20 numbers and click it to spin and land on a random digit. The Google Search number spinner will land on a random digit, with anywhere from two to 20 options in place.

2. For even simpler decisions, let Google flip a coin or roll a die for you by typing either command into the search box. (Bonus tip: You can also ask Google to spin a dreidel.)

3. Make Google serve as your personal time-keeper by typing “timer” or “stopwatch” into a search box. You can also launch right into a specific timer by typing “20 minute timer” (or whatever amount of time you desire).

4. You probably know that Google can act as a basic calculator, performing addition, subtraction, and so on—but did you know it can also do all sorts of advanced mathematics? For instance, you can have Google graph complicated equations like “cos(3x)+sin(x), cos(7x)+sin(x)” by entering them directly into the search box. And you can fire up a geometry calculator by searching for a specific query—”area of a circle,” “formula for a triangle perimeter,” or “volume of a cylinder”—and then entering in the values you know.

5. Google has separate standalone calculators that can figure out tips and monthly mortgage payments, too. Search for “tip calculator” or “mortgage calculator” to give either a whirl.

6. The next time you need to convert between units, try asking Google to do the heavy lifting for you. In addition to handling currency and practically any measurement system, Google can convert megabytes to gigabytes, Fahrenheit to Celsius, and days into minutes or even seconds. You can explore all the possibilities by typing “unit converter” into the search box and then looking through the dropdown menus that appear—or you can perform most conversions directly by searching for the exact changeover you want (e.g. “14.7 lbs to oz”).

7. Who among us hasn’t come across a sprawling number and stared at it blankly while trying to figure out how to say it aloud? Search for any number followed by “=english”—”53493439531=english,” for example—and Google will spell out your number for you in plain-English words.

8. Designers, take note: Searching for “color picker” will pull up a simple tool that lets you select a color and find its hex code, RGB value, CMYK value, and more—and easily convert from one color code type to another.The color picker tool is an easy way to find color codes and convert among different code types.

9. You can also see an identifying swatch for a specific color code by typing it into Google in almost any form: “#fcef00,” “rgb(252, 239, 0),” “pantone 444 u,” and so on.

10. Get up-to-date info on any flight, anytime, by typing the airline name or code and flight number directly into Google.

11. Find your current IP address in a snap by typing “IP address” into any Google prompt.

12. Google can measure your internet speed and give you speedy results, regardless of whether you’re on Wi-Fi or mobile data. Just type “speed test” into a search box and then click the “Run Speed Test” button to get started.

13. From your phone, type “bubble level” into Google to load an on-demand level tool and make sure the picture you’re hanging is perfectly straight. Keep the toolbox in the closet and pull up a bubble level right from Google Search on your phone.

14. Trying to stay on beat? Google “metronome,” and the search site will give you a fully functional metronome with a slider to start any beat-per-minute setting you need.

15. Search or browse through hundreds of old print newspapers at Google’s hidden newspaper archive site. The selection is pretty hit-and-miss, but you just might find what you’re after.

16. Hardly anyone knows it, but Google has a system that allows you to save results from your searches and then organize them into collections. From a browser, it works with images, jobs, and places; after searching for any of those types of items, you’ll see small bookmark icons alongside your results that can be clicked to save the associated entities. If you have an Android phone, you can also save web pages by pulling them up within the Google app and then looking for the bookmark icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. Either way, you can find and sort your saved stuff by going to google.com/collections or looking for the “Collections” option in the Google app on Android (tucked away within the “More” menu).

Advanced information

17. Find your next job on Google by searching for “jobs near me” or something specific like “programming jobs.” You can then narrow down the search as needed, find direct links to apply to positions, and even turn on email alerts for worthwhile queries. Google’s job search function pulls in postings from all over the web and presents them in a centralized, easy-to-follow manner.

18. Thinking about going back to school—or maybe enrolling in college for the first time? Google can give you oodles of useful info about any four-year college in the United States. All you have to do is search for the school’s name, and you’ll get an interactive box with facts about its average cost (before and after financial aid for any income level) along with its acceptance rate, typical test scores, rankings, and notable alumni.

19. Get the perfect recipe for any meal by searching for the name of a dish from your mobile device. Google will give you a scrolling list of choices and will even provide one-tap commands for sending any set of instructions to a Google Assistant Smart Display connected to your account. (Bonus tip: You can search for drink recipes in the same way—again, though, only on a mobile device for some reason.)

20. Speaking of eating, you can Google any individual ingredient to find detailed nutritional information about the food. You can also search for specific nutritional queries—things like: “How many calories are in avocados,” “How much fat is in an egg yolk,” or “How much protein is in chickpeas.”

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Resources for Business Owners with Disabilities

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disability-owned business

These resources can help prospective business owners living with a disability make their dream of owning their own business a reality.

Fact: Self-employment is a more popular choice among people with disabilities than it is with the general population. The Small Business Administration reported that 12.2 percent of the general population chose self-employment, and 14.3 percent of people with disabilities started businesses.

Alice Doyel, author of No More Job Interviews: Self-Employment Strategies for People With Disabilities, suggests five clear advantages of self-employment for people with disabilities.

  • Work activities that fit personal interests and capabilities
  • Control of the company
  • Workplace supports and accommodations to meet needs and enhance success
  • Connections with other community business members
  • Long-term employment with the opportunity for personal growth

Any person with a disability who has worked in the labor force may be familiar with the concept of Customized Employment (CE). Customized Employment starts not with a job description, but by identifying the strengths, conditions and interests of a job candidate. After this process of discovery, an employer or job counselor can identify a position that matches the candidate’s profile.

The same framework can be applied to identifying self-employment opportunities.

Joe Steffy is a young adult with Down syndrome and autistic spectrum disorder. When Joe was in his teens, teachers and school administrators didn’t think he’d ever work – at best, he’d spend his days at a fully supervised workplace, also known as a sheltered workshop.

Then Joe worked with a Customized Employment expert, and together they discovered Joe’s interest in popping kettle corn. Joe’s family bought equipment, and he began popping and selling kettle corn at local businesses and farmers markets. He started when he was 15 years old, and in three years, teenage Joe’s sales grew to $50,000 with a staff of five part-time employees. Joe works five or six hours a day popping corn and delivering it to stores.

Joe is in his 30s now, and Poppin’ Joe’s Gourmet Kettle Korn is still going strong.

Going through the Customized Employment framework is a good first step for any person with a disability thinking about starting their own business.

Melony Hill, who has been diagnosed with PTSD, depression, anxiety disorder, dissociative identity disorder, and fibromyalgia, launched a successful speaking, writing, and coaching business called Stronger Than My Struggles.

A big part of her success came from identifying a profession that worked for her rather than one focused on money. “Instead, I sought to find ways I would feel I was living peacefully and doing things I enjoyed,” Melony says. Now she teaches others to do the same.

Once a potential business owner has identified their unique strengths and abilities, the fun begins – identifying a business that is a right for them.

The PASS program

Usually, federal supplemental security income (SSI) payments are reduced or eliminated once the recipient finds a job. With the PASS (Plan to Achieve Self-Support) program, SSI recipients wanting to start a business can continue to accumulate SSI payments while they work and use the money to fund their startup.

PASS money can be saved up and set aside to pay for the following:

  • Transportation to and from work
  • Tuition, books, fees and supplies needed for school or training
  • Childcare
  • Attendant care
  • Supplies to start a business
  • Equipment and tools to do the job, and
  • Uniforms, special clothing and safety equipment

The Social Security Administration will not count money set aside under this plan when they decide on an SSI payment amount, so recipients may end up getting a higher payment. However, they won’t get more than the maximum payment for the state in which they live.

To qualify for PASS, the intended recipient can’t have a net worth exceeding $2,000 or $3,000 for couples. However, assets or equipment to be used for the business don’t count toward this amount.

PASS participants must get their plan approved by the Social Security Administration. Examples of businesses that have been approved include a carpentry business, a music production business and a candy vending business.

To qualify, recipients must complete paperwork, including the creation of a business plan. Here’s more about the PASS program:

Writing a business plan

Creating a business plan is a requirement of applying for PASS. It’s a vital step for any business owner.

A business plan outlines the goals of the business and details the steps needed to achieve them. The plan will include specifics like equipment needed, how the business will be promoted, and anticipated revenue.

Continue on to Business.com to read the complete article.