What kind of questions should you ask at the end of a job interview?

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man sitting at a desk being interviewed by a man and womanfor a job

It’s a scenario many of us have found ourselves in. You’re nearing the end of a job interview and finally, you can begin to relax a little. Despite the nerves, you’ve come across well and answered all the questions confidently – and with a little bit of luck, you may just be offered the position.

Before you can run out of the room, however, the interviewer wants to know if you have any questions for them.

It might be tempting to say no, so you can leave as quickly as possible – but asking questions can be of huge benefit when it comes to interviewing for a job.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that interviews should always be considered a two-way street. Yes, the recruiter is interested in finding out if your skills and abilities are suited to the role in question. But a job interview is also a chance for you to work out if this is the right job for you – and if you are going to fit in well at the company.

“As candidates, we can often get caught up in the whole process, particularly as we try to remember the answers we’ve prepared but it’s equally as important to take time towards the end of the interview to ask your own questions,” says Row Davies, HR business manager at the recruitment firm Macildowie.

While you’re preparing for your interview and imagining the kind of questions you might be asked, it’s also useful to think about any queries you might have too. However, don’t ask an interviewer anything you can find out easily yourself, either online or on the company’s social media channels.

“It’s crucial for you to assess whether the company is the right fit for you, as just like any relationship, both need to benefit and feel comfortable with the partnership,” Davies says.

“Not only does the process allow you to show your enthusiasm for the company, asking questions also gives you the opportunity to check your goals and values are aligned with the business. You don’t want to be a year or more down the line and find that the company is heading in a direction that you don’t want to or perhaps can’t follow.”

So what kind of questions should you be asking as an interview candidate?

Davies believes there are three key questions that should be on every job applicant’s list.

“The first, is asking the interviewer ‘is there anything regarding my experience you would like me to expand upon?’. Not only does this show that you are engaged, it also provides you with the opportunity to further emphasise your strengths and how you believe these will be an asset to the company’s objectives,” she says.

The second is about learning and development – and specifically, whether the company is actively investing in their employees. After all, you want to know that you’re going to move forward in a job.

“Ask, ‘how do you support the professional development of your employees?’. Answers to this question will give you an insight into how the business will support you as you progress up the career ladder,” Davies says.

“It also shows the interviewer you have aspirations and a drive to succeed in the organization.”

Finally, it’s a good idea to find out more about the company’s environment and whether they look after their employees.

“I would encourage any of my candidates to ask the interviewer, ‘what do you like most about working for the company?’ This is great for building a personal connection with the interviewer, giving them the opportunity to share their personal views and the passion they have for the company,” Davies says.

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

How to decide if your social circle needs an upgrade in 2020

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multicultural team chatting at work

You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, motivational speaker John Rohn once said. If you’re not happy with your current situation at work, you may want to take a closer look at your inner circle.

“We have to be really good at [deciding] who we allow into our life,” says Ivan Misner, author of Who’s In Your Room: The Secret to Creating Your Best Life and founder of the global business network BNI. “Imagine your life is one room and the room had one door. The door could only let people enter, and once they’re in the room, they’re there forever.”

It’s a scary metaphor, but it’s true, says Misner. “Think about a person you let into your life and then had to let out because they were toxic, difficult, or angry,” he says. “If you can remember the emotions and what they did, they’re still in your head. If they’re in your head, they’re still in your room.”

For this reason, it’s important to surround yourself with the right people from the start—or they’ll be in your “room” for the rest of your life.

“When you realize that this happens, you can get better at screening out people before they get in and dealing with the ones you already let in,” says Misner.

Letting people in

Opening the door to the right people means getting clear with your values. “If you don’t know your values, you don’t know where to start,” says Misner.

Start with deal breakers—behaviors that you hate, such as dishonesty or drama. Look for people who demonstrate these behaviors, and don’t let them into your social circle.

“Pretend your mind has a doorman or bouncer,” says Misner. “Train your doorman—your subconscious and conscious mind—to identify people with these behaviors. By understanding your deal breakers, you’ll be better able to start understanding your values.”

A common mistake people make when letting others in is weighing too quickly “what’s in it for me” and disregarding the things that go against their values. When we make decisions based on short-sighted gains, we also choose values that don’t resonate with who we are.

“In physics, resonance is a powerful thing,” says Misner. “It’s a phenomenon that occurs when an extra force drives something to oscillate at a specific frequency.”

To understand how it works, imagine two pianos sitting side by side in a room. “If you hit the middle C key on one piano while someone presses the sustain pedal on the other one, the middle C of the other one will vibrate on that second piano, without [it] being touched,” says Misner. “That’s resonance. People are like that.”

When you make a decision based on what you think we can get instead of your values, you invite values that don’t align with yours to resonate in your life.

“Be mindful about creating relationships with resonance and get your values down,” says Misner. “Companies often recognize the importance of knowing your values, but people don’t always think about them. Values should be at the foundation of everything you do. Otherwise, you’ll create the wrong room.”

Dealing with people you’ve already let in

If you have people in your circle that are creating a bad environment, decide if they have to be there or if you can exit the relationship. If they must be there, it’s time to draw a line in sand.

“Evaluating your social circle means recognizing that someone may be in your life but their baggage needs to stay out,” says Misner. “Draw a line in the sand by saying that you’re not letting their behavior continue around you.”

For example, if you have a coworker who demonstrates toxic behavior such as frequent gossiping or complaining, establish boundaries. Say, “Starting now, if you start talking badly, I will walk away. I respect you and will talk to you again, but only if you can have a mature adult conversation.” Then follow through. It may take a while for the person to understand the new boundaries and rules, but once you draw the line in the sand, you can eliminate the toxicity from your circle.

“Stand firm,” says Misner. “Part of that is learning how to say ‘no.’

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Top 5 Tips for Job Seekers with Disabilities

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man in wheelchair talking with hiring manager

By Adam Kaplan

Despite an unemployment rate nearly double that of their non-disabled peers, people with disabilities can look forward to a bright jobs future—provided that they approach their career activities the right way.

Both experienced job seekers as well as those new to the world of employment can follow these five tips, culled from our conversations with hundreds of disabled individuals and other job seekers searching for work over the past few years.

1 Dare to Dream

When we speak to candidates who tell us they want a job, the first thing we ask is, “doing what?” Know what you want and why you want it before hitting the job market: this is essential to your eventual success. Most individuals have enough self-awareness to know what work activities they enjoy performing, and these usually correlate with what they are actually good at. When skill and interest are combined they are usually also accompanied with passion, which a recruiting or hiring manager can plainly see.

2 Identify In-Demand Skills

While perfecting your skills is essential, knowing how they fit in the market for talent is also important. Demand for certain skills is always evolving—yet some are consistently in higher demand than others. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that such diverse jobs as computer programmer, actuary, and market research analyst fit the bill. Matching your interest to those of talent managers can be the key to getting a good job.

3 Let Everyone Know!

The best way to find a job is through networking. Tell your friends, families and people you meet about the job you are seeking. Go to networking events. Promote your interests on social media.

4 Getting a Job Is a Job; Treat it as Such

Getting a good job is usually a marathon, not a sprint, especially for recent graduates and those who have been out of the job market for a while or are making a career change. Set aside certain hours for networking and research. Filling out applications is OK, too—just remember that answering help-wanted ads is usually the least effective way to find work. Use job boards to identify open positions, then network to identify the hiring manager.

5 Practice Makes Perfect

If you follow the first four tips correctly, you will have good leads to jobs that will lead to interviews. To have the best chance of translating those interviews into job offers, you need to practice, practice, practice. In fact, never go to a job interview without practicing beforehand. Ask the recruiter what to expect on interview day. Have someone you trust play the interviewer. Give him or her some questions to ask or have them ask their own. See where you can improve your answers. Use the practice interview to ace the real one, and get the job you want!

About the Author
Adam Kaplan founded Kaplan Executive Search, a retained executive search company.  He partners with CEOs of middle market and emerging growth companies to recruit top talent, including COOs (Integrators), CFOs and VPs of Sales.

Adam also has a personal passion for workforce diversity, especially in creating opportunities for talented professionals with hidden and visible disabilities.  He was appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services.

Meet Arthur Edge of GSK

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Arthur Edge is a biopharmaceutical Technology Manager at GSK and his challenge at the company is to strengthen GSK’s manufacturing processes and launch new products in the fight to cure Lupus.

He is proud to be a part of the team to gain approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the new self-injectable formulation of Benlysta (belimumab), which treats systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in adult patients.

This became a really personal matter to him, when a close friend was diagnosed with Lupus.

For Arthur, recruiting and retaining a diverse team is important, especially in the pharmaceutical industry where there’s a lack of diversity.

Arthur Edge GSK headshot
Arthur Edge GSK-Glaxo Smith Kline

At GSK, he had the most productive and rewarding career experiences working on global teams where each individual is unique and their uniqueness is recognized.

He has a passion for learning and a desire to continuously improve. He believes he is bigger than his career, and his life is bigger than himself. GSK helps him to live this reality through its Modern Employer culture.

Arthur is active in leadership roles within the biotech community and in community service. He is the president of the Manufacturing, Engineering, & Technology advisory board for Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools, and he has leveraged GSK employee volunteers to work with him and support student success.

Finally, Arthur list three points of advice for young professionals: find an area of expertise and build a career platform around that area; be mentored and be a mentor; and work on problems that interest you.

With ‘Drama,’ Victoria Canal Could Raise Bar For Disabled Artists In Pop Music

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Victoria Canal is on stage singing in to mic with a male guitarist by her side

The ever-evolving entertainment industry can be daunting for any young, up-and-coming artist in pursuit of creative fulfillment. For her new song and music video, however, Victoria Canal found herself looking inward to address the most formidable obstacle of all: herself.

HuffPost got an exclusive first look at “Drama,” viewable above. In the video, Canal plays both a “light” and “dark” version of herself. Each persona, she said, “casts a different energy and puts out a different reality into the world.”

“The concept came about as I was starting to enter the music industry space more and really putting myself on display more than ever before,” said the Spanish American singer-songwriter, who is based in Los Angeles. “I sat down to write a song about the inner voice in my head, the self-critic who tries to make me feel small and tries to make me feel like anything other than what I know is my highest self. I wanted to really brush off that voice.”

Canal is hopeful that the self-empowering message of “Drama” will encourage all listeners to “embrace the best version” of themselves. The song also speaks to the 21-year-old’s personal experiences as a bisexual woman who was born without her right forearm.

The singer-songwriter ― who lived in Germany, China, Japan, Dubai and Spain before settling in the U.S. ― said her global upbringing has influenced her music as much as her disability and sexuality have. At the same time, she’s also conscious of the fact that mainstream pop has been slow to spotlight both LGBTQ artists and artists with disabilities.

“I’ve always seen [my identity] as a unique opportunity, really,” Canal said. “I used to shy away from the word [‘disabled’] and all the things it implied. But as I’ve grown up and lived a few more years, I’ve met a community of people who embody strength. ‘Disabled,’ to me, actually has a totally different connotation. To me, it means strong or resilient, determined, hopeful.”

Continue on to Huffington Post to read the complete article.

Making a Difference and Influence through Diverse Abilities at TIAA

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TIAA employees pose for a group photo in an office setting

This October, TIAA employees celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness Month by giving back to the community and candidly sharing the triumphs and challenges of living with disabilities and helping those with disabilities.

TIAA’s Diverse Abilities Business Resource Group (BRG), formed for associates with disabilities and caregivers of those with disabilities, held multiple events companywide in honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month, to grow awareness and support of diverse abilities and how it affects colleagues and people in the community. The events educated TIAA employees on diverse abilities and how to be more inclusive to everyone.

One of the events included a visit from Hendrick Motorsports’ Richie Parker, who shared his unique story of overcoming obstacles and facing adversity. Richie Parker was born with bilateral amelia, a non-genetic birth defect in which limbs are not formed. He is a renowned speaker on overcoming adversity, and has been profiled by ESPN. Parker is the contributor to six NASCAR Sprint Cup championships, and currently serves as a chief engineer of government and military projects.

TIAA is also passionate about making a difference in local communities, and additionally in recognition of Disability Awareness Month, the Diverse Abilities BRG and TIAA’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team partnered to facilitate a community service project with seven local offices. The teams assembled sensory kits for children with autism and other similar developmental disorders. The Diverse Abilities BRG office chapters came together via video conference in offices to pack sensory kits that included ‘squeezy’ and fidgety type toys and kinetic sand designed to calm children.

“We’ve had a need for things like this particularly in the eastern part of North Carolina these past few years due to hurricanes,” said Jessica Otto from the Autism Society of North Carolina. “As you can imagine, it’s very traumatic for a person with autism to deal with the power going out.  These kits will be a comfort for lots of kiddos!”

TIAA’s Diverse Abilities BRG virtual coast to coast event began with a Kinetic Sand Packing Race, where each site selected two members to pack the small bags of kinetic sand the fastest. In total, they packed 50 small bags of kinetic sand.  In Jacksonville, the Diverse Abilities BRG and TIAA Bank employees brought the effort full circle by volunteering at the Mount Herman Exceptional Student Center to hand out the sensory kits to the students, and helped with other tasks at the center. TIAA employees from Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Iselin, Jacksonville, New York and Waltham packed over 930 kits for four local nonprofits that support and help with autism.

TIAA values and practices diversity and inclusion, as well as philanthropy and giving back. Providing numerous opportunities for employees and their families to learn, share, and help those with diverse abilities advances inclusiveness in the workplace and in communities.

Lyft is Giving Free Rides to People On Their Way to Job Interviews and Training

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pink Lyft logo pictured in an iPhone

Affordable transportation can be a huge obstacle for low-income workers pursuing new employment—which is why Lyft is now offering free and discounted rides to passengers who are starting at new jobs.

The company’s newly-launched Jobs Access Program will help to facilitate free transportation for unemployed people who are attending job interviews, job training, or their first three weeks of work prior to receiving their first pay check.

“Everyone needs access to reliable, affordable transportation—to get to work, visit the doctor, make it to school, or simply participate in city life,” the company wrote in a blog post. “In fact, a recent study pinpoints commuting time as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. Our own study shows that 44% of Lyft rides start or end in low income areas, and that our passengers saved 178 million hours compared to other transportation modes.

“So we’ve partnered with several leading national and local organizations dedicated to workforce development in order to deliver free or discounted rides to people making their way through the employment pipeline.”

With the help of various nonprofit partners, the $50 million program is launching in more than 35 US and Canadian cities.

The program will also pay particular attention to vulnerable populations such as veterans and people with disabilities.

One of Lyft’s program partners is the National Down Syndrome Society. According to Ashley Helsing, NDSS’ Director of Government Relations: “There are roughly two million people living with disabilities in the United States. Of those two million, nearly 30 percent, or 560,000 people, are unable to leave their home because of transportation barriers.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

More Jobs Than Ever for People with Disabilities

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women sitting in a wheelchair at work giving a high-five to a coworker

By Philip Pauli

New statistics show that Americans with disabilities are entering the workforce in unprecedented numbers. New data from the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire reveals that 343,483 more people with disabilities joined the American workforce in 2016, compared to 87,201 the previous year.

But even as Americans with disabilities are entering the workforce in greater numbers, serious gaps in employment still exist between different states. For example, 54 percent of working-age people with disabilities in North Dakota have jobs, while only 27.4 percent of people with disabilities in West Virginia are employed.

New Data on Disability and Employment

According to a recent Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, only 35.9 percent of U.S. civilians with disabilities ages 18 to 64 had a job, compared to 76.9 percent for people without disabilities. However, this is an increase from the previous year, which was 34.9 percent. Out of almost 20 million working-age people with disabilities, only 7.4 million people with disabilities had a job in 2016.

A new poll released by RespectAbility shows that millions of people with disabilities want to work. The companies driving successful inclusion include JP Morgan Chase, Pepsi, UPS, SAP, EY, IBM, Starbucks and Walgreens. These companies see people with disabilities as resourceful employees who improve businesses’ bottom lines.

However, looking at topline national statistics only tells part of the story. State-specific data compiled by the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics (StatsRRTC) shows massive differences among states. In fact, there are some states where people with disabilities are twice as likely to be employed as in other states.

Best States for People with Disabilities

Stats:
• 343,483 new jobs for people with disabilities

• Floridians with disabilities experience the biggest jobs gains of any state, with more than 35,000 people with disabilities entering the workforce.

• Employers hire more people with disabilities as they find that recruiting, hiring and retaining employees with disabilities benefits their bottom line.

Top 10 States for Workers with Disabilities (and percentage employed)
1. North Dakota 54%
2. South Dakota 51.6%
3. Minnesota 48%
4. Alaska 47.9%
5. Nebraska 47.4%
6. Wyoming 47.2
7. Utah 47%
8. Iowa 45.9
9. Kansas 44.7%
10. Montana 43.9%

Comparing the number of working-age people with disabilities reveals that Floridians experienced the biggest jobs gains of any state in the nation, with 35,480 entering the workforce. The second largest growth was in the state of Georgia, where 28,000 working-age people with disabilities got jobs. In terms of the largest states in the nation, California added 19,398 working-age people with disabilities to the workforce, while Texas added 17,736 with disabilities to their state workforce last year.

Alaska had the biggest percentage point gain in disability employment rates, going up 5.5 percentage points, followed by North Dakota’s 5.2 percentage point gain in jobs. Idahoans with disabilities have also seen a big increase with their employment rate rising from 38.3 percent in to 43.3 percent. South Carolina has also seen an increase in the number of people with disabilities working, with more than 23,000 getting jobs

Looking at Employment Gaps

Looking at the difference in employment rates between people with and without disabilities can reveal how far behind they are in a state’s economy. The smaller the gap, the more inclusive a state’s economy is, which translates into more opportunities for people to earn an income and become independent. The bigger the gap means fewer jobs for people with disabilities compared to their non-disabled peers. Alaska shows great success with only a 28.2 percentage point gap, the smallest gap of any state. According to the new data, Rhode Island had a 48.6 percentage point gap in employment.

What Works?

Looking beyond the data, two questions emerge—what works to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and what can state leaders do to improve outcomes?

“States including Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Alaska show how a commitment to school-to-work transitions can create brighter futures for young people with disabilities,” says Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. “Pennsylvania and Minnesota have also brought Employment First policies and a collaborative approach around transitions which has resulted in thousands of new jobs for their constituents with disabilities.”

There are two models that are achieving extraordinary success with work-based learning opportunities: Project SEARCH and Bridges from School to Work. SEARCH is a unique, employer-driven transition program that prepares students with disabilities for employment success. Likewise, Bridges offers assessments, workshops and job matching. SEARCH has grown to more than 300 programs in 46 states and served nearly 3,000 youth. Among those young people, more than 78 percent found jobs. These are transformative results for people with disabilities.

Linking Expectation and Education

“Employment rates only tell part of the story,” said Philip Kahn-Pauli, policy and practices director at RespectAbility. “Educational attainment is critical to the success of youth with disabilities because the jobs of the future require technical education and skill training.”

Despite progress made in recent years, students with disabilities are lagging significantly behind their nondisabled peers in educational attainment.

Only 65 percent of students with disabilities complete high school, with less than seven percent completing college. For youth of color with disabilities and English Language Learners with disabilities, their outcomes are even less. Key barriers include low expectations and the fact that many school systems either fail to diagnose early enough or address their issues at all. This often pushes children with disabilities into the school-to-prison pipeline. Appropriate early intervention, positive supports, and basic training for educators, parents, and guardians are vital.

Race, Disability and Employment

Even as companies are driving inclusion and states are finding success, there are still people left behind. “Just as looking at the state level employment rates tells a more complex story,” Kahn-Pauli said. “So too when you look at the employment rates among people with disabilities across racial lines.” Only 28.4 percent of African-Americans, 37.4 percent of Hispanics, and 40 percent of Asian Americans with disabilities hold jobs in their communities.

Building on Success

Despite the still-present gaps, seeing a four-fold improvement in one year’s time is fantastic, said Mizrahi. “The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, strong actions by many governors, and more positive portrayals of people with disabilities on TV are starting to have a positive impact.” she said. Further reports by the annual Disability Statistics Compendium and monthly Trends in Disability Employment show signs for continuing hope as more people with disabilities enter the labor market.

“At the end of the day, our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” Mizrahi said. “People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else.”

Source:  respectability.org

High-Tech Jobs for the Neurodiverse

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image of wheels cranking with man holding cell phone in his hand

Expandability, a not-for-profit division of Goodwill of Silicon Valley, uses a neurodiverse set of professionals to operate its innovative employment program, Neurodiversity Pathways, formerly called Autism Advantage. The organization increases accessibility to high-tech jobs for neurodivergent individuals, many of whom are on the autism spectrum.

Neurodiversity advocates promoting support systems (such as inclusion-focused services, accommodations, communication and assistive technologies, occupational training, and independent living support) that allow those who are neurodivergent to live their lives as they are, rather than being coerced or forced to adopt uncritically accepted ideas of normality, or to conform to a clinical ideal.

Designed for underemployed or unemployed neurodiverse adults who hold or are working toward a two- or four-year degree (or equiva-lent), the program equips them with workplace and personal effectiveness skills needed to succeed in today’s work environment. Neurodiversity Pathways also supports and educates employers across industries including financial services, networking, security, and enterprise software, on the value of hiring neurodiverse candidates.

Expandability used a $50,000 grant from Symantec Corporation to enhance its program and extend its reach. Cecily Joseph, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Symantec, said, “The Expandability program provides crucial access to high-tech jobs for a group of tremendously skilled people within our community, who are often underrepresented by traditional hiring practices.”

Building on previous success, the Neurodiversity Pathways program makes a direct connection between employers and neurodivergent individuals, while also raising awareness in the community to their unique skillsets. To ensure success, the program trains hiring managers and their teams on how to create an inclusive environment. Continuing to build best practices and engagement will bring more employers and candidates to the program and increase employment opportunities.

“Expandability has a unique opportunity to address a need often overlooked,” said Trish Dorsey, Executive Director of Expandability. “Employers are looking for strong technical talent to fill critical roles. Talented people on the autism spectrum can help fill this gap. With Symantec’s generous grant, we can provide training and make corporate connections that are not afforded with traditional education and recruiting processes.”

For more information, visit ndpathways.org.

Stronger Together: Salesforce, Abilityforce & Sunday Parker

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Sunday Parker of Salesforce sitting with her team members in a conference area

By Jaeson Parsons

Sunday Parker’s experiences with a mobility-based disability since birth has given her unique insight into the struggles that those with disabilities face. We wanted to get a better understanding of Sunday’s career journey as well as her insight into the creation and success of Abilityforce at Salesforce.

Sunday, pictured far left, has succeeded, and now she is the Global President of Abilityforce, the Employee Resource Group at Salesforce.

DiversityComm asked Sunday to give us some background into her experiences growing up with her disability.

“I grew up in a very small town in Oklahoma that didn’t have a stop light, let alone many accessibility considerations,” she stated. “As a wheelchair user since age 9, I was often lifted into shops and restaurants that didn’t have ramp access. Overcoming challenges was my ‘normal’—I faced barriers going to school, spending time with friends, and even lived in a house that had multiple steps getting in the front door.”

After graduating high school in 2009 and moving to San Francisco to attend university, her experiences were eye-opening.

“For the first time, I could take buses and trains, easily go along sidewalks, and the majority of businesses were accessible. This shift from living in a small town that had barriers at every turn to one of the most accessible cities in America was life-changing.”

Sunday graduated in 2013 with a degree in interior architecture and design; however, she felt more suited to the tech industry.

“After graduation, I wasn’t sure where my career journey would take me, but I knew I wanted to be part of an organization where I felt valued and could explore my interests,” she said.

It was Salesforces’ philanthropic method that attracted her to apply.

“[Their] commitment to donate 1 percent of earnings, 1 percent of products, and 1 percent of employee time to charitable causes is an organization I was excited to be a part of, and felt I could bring value to.”

Before accepting the position, Sunday requested to speak with an accommodations manager to discuss her disability needs for the position. She was encouraged by their reaction.

“My initial conversation started with them assuring me, ‘My job is to make sure your first day is the best first day you’ve ever had, so let’s talk about how we’re going to do that.’” A company switch is tough for anyone, but there is added complexity as a disabled person like myself who requires accommodations. But I left that conversation not just excited, but confident to start my journey at a company that was mutually invested in my success.”

Once at Salesforce, Sunday became involved in a grassroots group called Abilityforce. Founded in 2016, this was Salesforce’s first resource group for employees with disabilities.

Through her career development, Sunday has experienced many challenges and missed opportunities related to accessibility in the workplace, as well as the lack of resources, and this was something she wanted to see improved drastically for future generations. Sunday has seen firsthand the benefits of employee resource groups as it relates to the team environment at the company.

“Having employee resource groups helps to build a culture where everyone, regardless of their identity, can feel empowered to bring their full and authentic selves to work. People want to work at companies that reflect the communities they live in.”

We asked Sunday to outline the future for Abilityforce.

“We have a long-range plan to become a best place to work for people with disabilities. We continue to strive to have our physical and technological environments accessible and designed with everyone in mind by developing innovative best practices.”

Companies like Sunday’s that create employee resource groups allow for a deeper connection within the company and across the globe, as colleagues around the world provide their unique insight for development. Sunday said something that was very powerful—that we are stronger together. Finding ways to connect and break down the chains of isolation through human connection is a powerful tool. In her final remarks, Sunday stated that business can be a powerful platform for social change. Creating employee resource groups can increase solidarity and become a driving force for equal opportunity and accessibility within the workplace.

Honoring the Dedication of Renae Templeton—This communications specialist is irreplaceable

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Renae Templeton is sitting at work desk talking on the phone and on the computer

By 1st Lt. Tracci Dorgan

Many Soldiers have come back from their deployments and come by the Adjutant General’s headquarters building to meet her, shake her hand and thank her. The South Carolina National Guard has an employee who is the welcoming voice and face of visitors to the Adjutant General’s building in Columbia, South Carolina. Many aren’t even aware as she works behind her large desk answering calls and providing direction to guests, that she arrives to work each morning in her pink wheelchair.

“I was born with spina bifida, but that does not stop me,” said Renae Templeton, a communications specialist employee in the South Carolina Military Department. In addition to working with the security personnel and visitors, she also answers the main line to the headquarters building of the South Carolina National Guard.

“I love helping my Soldiers and Airmen,” said Templeton, who has served in this role since 2009. “I love getting the morale calls from overseas and enjoy helping to connect service members from thousands of miles away to a family member who is awaiting a phone call.”

As she travels around the three-story building, she stops to help whoever she can.

“Renae caters to everyone and never thinks twice about helping,” said Jack Kotchish, an executive assistant in the command group who has known her since she was first hired. “Everybody who comes through the front doors enjoys getting her daily greeting, witty discussions and laughter.”

“On my first day working here, I was introduced to Jack, who told me to never hesitate to call if I needed any help. Here is it eight years later, and I’m still calling for help,” she said jokingly.

Each October, the Department of Defense celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates the public about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of everyone’s skills.

Templeton shared that during her years there, many Soldiers have come back from their deployments and come by the Adjutant General’s headquarters building to meet her, shake her hand and thank her.

“I don’t know what we’d do without Renae,” added Kotchish. “On the occasions when she is out, it takes three or four of us to fill in and handle all the incoming calls. I don’t know how she does it by herself.”

Source: army.mil