Workers with Disabilities Can Help Our Economy Grow

Profit By Investing In Employees with Disabilities
Rockville, MD — Slow economic growth means businesses, government and nonprofit organizations have to innovate to compete in a global economy. Communities need productive employees who will use their talent and creativity to produce results and grow our nation’s economy. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Goodwill Industries International encourages the public and private sectors to hire applicants with disabilities and benefit from the unique talents they bring to the workplace.
“In order to get the highest return on investment, Goodwill® knows that businesses need to hire the right workers,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Employees with disabilities represent skilled workers in all industries, who are capable of confronting challenges and solving problems, and are receiving the training that modern businesses require.”
For decades, Goodwill agencies throughout North America have trained and hired people with disabilities to work in Goodwill stores, donation centers and career centers as well as in emerging fields outside of Goodwill including healthcare, green industries and financial services. Goodwill depends on their expertise and this diverse workforce has helped Goodwill grow into a leading social enterprise that served more than 2.4 million people in 2010.
People with disabilities are a dependable and valuable workforce who have higher rates of employee retention, which reduces hiring and training costs. Employers can leverage tax benefits from hiring people with disabilities and attract a broader customer base for their goods and services. At the same time, employers can demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility by hiring people with disabilities, which include youth, older workers and military veterans.
The 165 independent Goodwill agencies in the U.S. and Canada provide job training, career and community based services to people with disabilities, those who need education or work experience and others facing challenges to finding employment. Goodwill has helped people with disabilities earn jobs, grow their careers and live independent lives. Here are just two people who are successful in their careers through Goodwill’s help.
Ralph Poland suffered two strokes during open heart surgery. Doctors were not sure if he would ever walk again. Ralph remained determined and knew there was more he wanted to achieve in life. Ralph was referred to Goodwill NeuroRehabilitation Services, a program of the Goodwill Industries of Northern New England (Portland, ME). He started home therapy and later received physical, occupational and speech therapies at Goodwill NeuroRehabilitation Services. Eighteen months later, Ralph was living independently and even resumed driving again. He now works part time as a floor assistant at a local Walmart store. Ralph also volunteers at a local hospital doing repair work in the hospital’s rehabilitation unit where he shares his story with the patients, offering them inspiration for their recovery
Shammonica McKinney was born with cerebral palsy and is a single mother of two children. Shammonica has the support of her mother but prefers to live on her own and independently care for her children. She was referred to Goodwill Industries of the Coastal Empire (Savannah, GA) and completed a customized five month work adjustment and skills training course. With the help of her Goodwill job coach, Shammonica applied for and accepted a part-time position at an Olive Garden restaurant as a silverware wrapper. Six months later, Shammonica asked her manager for additional responsibilities because she wanted a chance to do more in her job. She was promoted to hostess, a full time position with the restaurant. Shammonica is currently in school to fulfill her goal of becoming a phlebotomist.
“Ralph and Shammonica are two of the many capable employees with disabilities. However, this population has a more than 16 percent unemployment rate, nearly double the rate of the general population,” said Gibbons. “People with disabilities deserve to grow their careers and make positive contributions to our economy.”
To learn more about Goodwill’s career training and employment programs, visit or call (800) 741-0186.