After more than two decades of working for the Coca-Cola Company, actor Vincenzo Piscopo knows what it means to leverage opportunities for people with disabilities within a company. Educating employers and encouraging volunteerism in the community are all ways he’s found success within Coca-Cola’s philanthropic endeavors.
Piscopo’s career with Coca-Cola has taken him to several different areas of the organization, including finance, IT, marketing and innovation. His extensive background in advocating for people with a disability within the workplace has given him a broad understanding of what other companies lack. He has been the director of community and stakeholder relations for a year now and has been given the opportunity to “fill his file cabinet,” as Piscopo says, with knowledge about how to advocate for women, Hispanics, African Americans, LGBTQ and people with disabilities.
Marketplace, Workplace, and Community
Coca-Cola created a Business Resource Group (BRG) to promote inclusion in the workplace with subgroups for specific minorities. Each group has three main objectives within the BRG: marketplace, workplace and community.
For people with disabilities, the goal in terms of the marketplace is to ensure the company leverages the opportunity that people bring as consumers. “Yes, it’s the right thing, but it’s also an opportunity,” Piscopo says about the business standpoint of hiring people with disabilities and the value they bring to the workplace.
The workplace objective refers to increasing the hiring and retaining of employees with disabilities. Piscopo discussed the importance of educating people within the company on disability etiquette, how to recognize when something is not accessible, how to provide accommodations, etc.
The third and final objective, community, works to provide community partnerships, collaborate and promote volunteerism.
It’s on Us: Disability in the Workplace
Many times, advocates find themselves frustrated with those who don’t know how to conduct themselves when working with people with disabilities. However, as Piscopo points out, “it’s on us” to educate and make people aware.
Piscopo worked for Coca-Cola before an accident ultimately left him paralyzed from the waist down. Since his accident, Piscopo’s employees have become more curious about the disability community and genuine accessibility.
Ignorance is often not disguised as discrimination, but rather fear of the unknown. Piscopo says diversity in the workplace expands our “file cabinet” and gives employers more resources to enlighten everyone on disability etiquette.
Piscopo is a proud board member of RespectAbility, a non-profit that fights stigmas and focuses on advancing opportunities for people with disabilities.