Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Searching for the Right Talent – An Overlooked Resource

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In an effort to improve the variety of our content, we have invited posts from guest authors. Today, we feature the first in a series of posts from exceptional HR professionals. Enjoy!

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In the never ending pursuit of finding the right talent, one large group of individuals is often overlooked, misunderstood or sometimes outright ignored. But the 53 million Americans with disabilities are an untapped resource that can easily meet most challenges in many companies.

The most diverse companies are the most successful. Our experience has been that diversity breeds innovation and innovation is a building block for success. By giving ALL people an opportunity, no matter how society chooses to label them, employers must look beyond the label and directly at the individual. That is another step in eliminating barriers to work for people with disabilities.

Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS) recently started a major push to tap into this labor pool by partnering with hundreds of organizations across the country that assist with the employment and placement of people with disabilities. Through these partnerships we now have more qualified, dedicated and motivated people that will improve our bottom line. We are convinced that these individuals could be successful not only at ACS, but other organizations as well.

Early internal research shows that employees with disabilities are three times as likely to remain employed when compared to the non-disabled population. While it is too early to say for certain why this is so, we have theories based on our initial success. For example, some of our employees with disabilities tell us they have literally been looking for a job for years. That persistence translates into loyalty and dedication once they find a position.

People with disabilities are employed at about half the rate of people without disabilities, according to the Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University. About 22 million Americans ages 21 to 64, or about 13 percent of the working-age population, have a disability. Only 38 percent of persons with disabilities are employed, compared with 80 percent of Americans without a disability. Among college graduates, 55 percent of persons with disabilities are employed, compared with 83 percent who do not have a disability, according to the Web site Disabilitystatistics.org. There is a large, well educated talent pool of people who are able to make a difference if they can be matched up with the right opportunity.

Despite this large pool of talented potential employees, many employers, hiring managers and recruiters fear there will be an added cost if they hire a person with a disability. Accommodations do not always come with a cost. The Office of Disability Employment Policy's Job Accommodation Network (JAN) reported that 68% of job accommodations made cost less than $500.

Many of the accommodations simply require awareness by the employee’s manager. That type of continued education needs to include ongoing training to employees and managers regarding hiring, managing, supporting and promoting people with disabilities.

Some accommodations, actually make recruiting easier. For example, ACS recruiters work with the Kentucky Office For the Blind counselors and blind or visually impaired applicants to identify their unique work skills and how their attributes can best be utilized. By modifying a pre-employment test to utilize alternative technology that makes the testing process more accessible for the blind and visually impaired, recruiters were able to provide Office For the Blind counselors with the necessary tools to conduct the testing at their offices. This ensured that blind and visually impaired applicants had the accommodations they needed at a location where they frequented in order to test and apply for positions, while ACS gained a larger applicant pool.

There may be some costs for some accommodations, but the Job Accommodation Network reports that for every dollar spent on accommodations, the company received $28 in benefits. Open jobs cost companies money – lost productivity, cost to locate, hire and train a new hire and the cost of churning through multiple hires until a good fit is finally found. A dedicated and committed recruiting team is required to make these potential savings materialize.

Knowing where to find people with disabilities and then establishing solid and trusting relationships with agencies that partner with those individuals is the first step. In the first few months of this program’s existence, our team of diversity recruiters has established partnerships with state and local vocational rehabilitation agencies and organizations such as community and local government groups, college disability services offices, self-advocacy, independent-living organizations, as well as veterans’ organizations and others that provide services to people with disabilities such as Goodwill. Once these partnerships are cemented, a steady flow of referrals from these agencies can be expected.

There are countless people with disabilities who have accomplished great things through the years. Franklin D. Roosevelt had polio and used a wheelchair. Ludwig Von Beethoven was deaf when he composed his 9th Symphony. There have also been actors, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners as well. There is no reason corporations can not open their doors to these potential employees. It’s ability, not the disability that matters.

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About our guest Author: 

Lora Villarreal is Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer for Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS). She is the visionary charged with making ACS’ disability recruiting program successful. Villarreal has more than 20 years of business, human resources, and administration experience.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Upcoming Webinar

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"What learning experiences are companies proposing to their executive talent to get them ready to secure strategic relevance and fuel business growth?" 

Dan Fisher and Michel Buffet will provide some answers to this question based on their experience of designing and delivering customized leadership and management training programs to organizations. More specifically, they will address the new business case for leadership development, breakthrough and practical approaches to keep leaders engaged and committed to learning, and robust ways to measure impact and ROI.  

Time & Location: 1:30 PM Central Standard Time as a global event on your laptop

Keynote Speakers: Dan Fisher and Michael A. Buffet, live from New York

Dan Fisher, PhD: Dan is a managing partner at Fisher Rock Consulting. He provides consultation on selecting, developing, and utilizing senior leadership capital within the context of positional demands, strategic goals, and organizational culture to clients across a wide range of industries. He has extensive experience assessing senior executives and providing them with critical insights and information on their pivotal strengths, key developmental needs, and potential derailers. He is often retained by clients to coach executives on being more effective leaders and achieving breakthrough results. Dan provides high stakes assessment on executives, for internal and external selection, and has designed and delivered leadership development programs for some of today’s top global companies. Prior to co-founding Fisher Rock Consulting, Dan was Director of Assessment Services for Worklab Consulting, a subsidiary of the law firm Seyfarth Shaw. A partial list of the clients he has worked with to date includes Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America,  Barclays Capital, ICAP, Highbridge Capital Management, Andor Capital MasterCard, McGraw-Hill, ADP, GE, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Eaton, Hewlett Packard, DoubleClick, Renegade, Alltel, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Dan received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara and completed his post-doctoral studies at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, where he later became a faculty member. In addition to serving on the board of The Metropolitan New York Association for Applied Psychology and the American Psychological Association’s Society for Consulting Psychology, Dan is an active member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 

Michel A. Buffet, PhD: Michel Buffet is a partner at Fisher Rock, a consulting firm that works with senior leaders and Human Resources executives on organizational change and custom talent management solutions. Before joining Fisher Rock, Michel was a Partner at Oliver Wyman and for over 10 years, worked in the areas of organizational design, team and board effectiveness, executive talent management, and organizational assessment.  Prior to this, Michel conducted cross-cultural training and development at the Training Management Corporation and at the Prudential Intercultural Services.  He also worked on various applied measurement projects at Citibank Bankcards and for the Department of Personnel of New York City. Michel holds a PhD in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and a DESS in Social Clinical Psychology from the University of Paris.  He was a contributor to Relationships That Enable Enterprise Change: Leveraging the Client Consultant Connection (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2002).  His most recent article on executive onboarding appeared in the October 2007 issue of Talent Management.  He has presented his work at several business forums on organizational transformation and leadership.  He is a member of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the Metropolitan New York Association of Applied Psychology, the American Psychological Society, and the French-American Chamber of Commerce of New York.  He is bilingual in French and English and fluent in Spanish.  He lives in Princeton, NJ.

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If you would like to attend this event, please send an email to info@hr-meter.com with the subject line "Upcoming Webinar"