The 2018 Special Olympics is partnering with SourceAmerica to organize the first job fair, Journey of Employment, for athletes conjointly with the 2018 USA Games in Seattle. SourceAmerica, a national network of non-profits that employ individuals with disabilities, is providing employment-coaching sessions with experts for athletes. The Special Olympics USA Games reports that during these sessions participants will learn about interviewing, networking, and potential careers. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from national organizations searching for new employees. The companies participating at the job fair include Microsoft, Bank of America, Brooks Running Company, Kaiser Permanente, Starbucks, Swire Coca-Cola, the University of Washington, Amazon, Microsoft, and many others. These organizations are also sponsoring the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. Participants will have the chance to connect with other athletes who are currently employed.
In a Special Olympics USA Games, Beth Knox, President and CEO of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games said, “Special Olympics athletes have worked hard on and off the field to compete on a national stage, and it’s that same determination and mindset that make them valuable assets for employers”.
Microsoft, one of the organizations participating in the Journey of Employment job fair, reports that they are committed to creating an inclusive workforce. According to MicrosoftNews, the company’s focus on inclusion in the workforce is a reflection of Microsoft’s mission and core values. Neil Barnett, Microsoft’s Director of Inclusive Hiring and Accessibility, told MicrosoftNews:
“Microsoft’s employees with disabilities help meet the needs of an increasingly global and diverse customer base, which includes more than 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide. Their perspectives have driven improvements in Microsoft’s accessibility tools, including screen readers and dictation tools and eye-tracking controls.”
Microsoft’s Autism Hiring Program made inclusive changes to their recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, training, and retention procedures in order to find talented candidates who are on the autism spectrum. Take a look at Microsoft’s Inclusive Hiring video:
Bank of America announced that approximately 300 of their employees are affected by intellectual disabilities and two are competing in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. Anne Finucane, Vice Chairman of Bank of America said, “Together [Bank of America and Special Olympics], we’re helping Special Olympic athletes achieve their goals on and off the field by advancing their leadership, employment, skills training and mentoring”.
MicrosoftNews reports that Heather Harper, a Special Olympics athlete, worked with a job coach to learn how to handle office mail. Harper processes mail for the Washington State Governor’s Office. Krista Gobeille, Director of Constituent Services at the Washington State Governor’s Office, toldMicrosoftNews that Heather, who pictured above, is a great asset and is happy to support her team. Gobeille told MicrosoftNews, “We have found supported employment to be a great way to expand opportunities for individuals with disabilities while finding capable, hard-working employees who add value to our organization. These are employees you want to have.”