How Equity Is Lost When Companies Hire Only Workers With Disabilities – The New York Times

In December 2017, Ms. Wright was named CNNs Hero of the Year for opening Bitty & Beaus. The award decision received online backlash from disability advocates, who said hiring underrepresented workers should not be viewed as heroic. They also said disabled workers should not be treated as inspirations for merely working a 9-to-5 job like nondisabled people do every day.

When you hire someone, unless they have a special story or something, you arent going to put them in a spotlight and parade them like a mascot, said Courtney Pugh, 23, of Dallas, who has Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy and lives near Howdy Homemade, an ice-cream parlor that mainly employs people with disabilities. Youre going to hire them, youre going to treat them like the adult they are.

Ms. Wright said the award was more about recognizing the workers rather than herself, though she acknowledged that ideally, businesses like hers would not have to exist if people with disabilities were fully integrated into every workplace.

For right now, this seems to be a step in the right direction, and its making people rethink what the workplace looks like and what people with disabilities are capable of doing, she said

With devastating job losses because of the pandemic, advocates said this was the time for people with disabilities to be given the chance to pivot away from industries they had been traditionally boxed into and transfer their skills to other sectors.

Alexandra McConaughey, a multiply disabled law graduate, said the job market was so abysmal that it was understandable why disabled workers would choose to work at a company like SAP or Bitty & Beaus.

Im someone whos experienced a lot of hiring discrimination, so I see the appeal of knowing that the people on the other side are actually genuinely looking for disabled talent, said Ms. McConaughey, who was recently hired to work as an associate at a nonprofit law firm. Honestly, if I hadnt gotten this job, Id be looking for those types of initiatives right now, because getting a job as a person with a disability is so hard.

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How Equity Is Lost When Companies Hire Only Workers With Disabilities - The New York Times

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