By: Oz Mondejar
For many years, individuals with disabilities have found jobs through programs that gave them work experience but weren’t necessarily competitive in terms of benefits, compensation and the opportunity to grow in a career.
At Partners HealthCare, we’re focused on taking those opportunities to the next level by creating a more integrated workforce in which employees with disabilities have as much access to competitive jobs as the rest of their colleagues.
Beyond being “the right thing to do,” having an integrated workforce makes good business sense. It always helps us as health care providers to have a work force that reflects the communities we serve. It allows us to have a richer understanding of each other and also maximize the talents we bring to caring for our patients.
Our Working Partners program – a public-private partnership among the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, Massachusetts General Hospital, Partners HealthCare at Home and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission – has made great strides in this area. Now I’m honored to be able to share our experience with a wider audience as part of the national Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities, overseen by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez.
What we’ve been able to accomplish in Massachusetts is a very open dialogue between state government and the private sector. Working Partners, or our new partnership with Project Search, demystifies the process for hiring persons with disabilities by talking directly to state agencies about their talent pool and educating Partners’ own hiring managers.
Most importantly, conversations go beyond the first step of hiring to supporting staff and their professional development once they’re in a job. Rather than focusing on a disability, we encourage employers to think about what talents those employees bring to the table.
Creating more competitive career opportunities for employees with disabilities is more important now than ever before. As people prolong their careers and stay in the workforce longer, many more people who are able bodied today will become part of the community with disabilities, and -- rightly so -- will wish to continue to share their considerable talents in rewarding careers.
As someone who is always looking for the right talent, I strongly believe we need to look to the community of people with disabilities for the right skills to bring our organization success – and our patients the best care. My agenda is to bridge that gap, and we’ve been doing that at Partners.
At the end of the day, we want to be both the employer of choice and the place where you want to get your care.