Put simply, work is fundamental to identity. It means so much more than a paycheck; it offers purpose and the opportunity to lead a more independent, self-directed life for all people—including millions of Americans with disabilities. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and I encourage the public and private sectors to strengthen their workforce by hiring qualified people with disabilities.
It takes visionary leaders in business to build a strong and inclusive workplace. The local community needs qualified workers to make our economy stronger. We are very fortunate at Goodwill to work with hundreds of local businesses that hire Goodwill-trained workers, who may have disabilities or face other barriers to employment.
It may surprise you to know that according to the U.S. Department of Labor, people with disabilities have a 14 percent unemployment rate. We know it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many benefits of a diverse workforce, which includes people with disabilities. In 2011, Goodwill of Orange County grew its social enterprise and provided career and community services to more than 10,000 people with disabilities and other disadvantages. We train people with disabilities and others who have trouble finding work through our many businesses, as well as out in the community.
In addition to my role at Goodwill, I serve as a board member of the Orange County Workforce Investment Board, so I am even more committed to ensuring that we can further establish a comprehensive, local workforce development system. Businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations here in Orange County need to hire the right workers to help our economy grow. Recruit and hire people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. It might be the best investment you make for your company and your community.
But don’t just take my word for it. A wide variety of Orange County businesses have already used Goodwill workers including: Bon Appétit, California Pizza Kitchen, Cox Communications, Ford Motor Company, Hurley, Lincoln Mercury, Marriott Food Services and Marshalls—just to name a few. We are truly grateful that you share in our belief that people are more powerful, than the barriers they face.
– Frank Talarico, Jr., President & CEO Goodwill of Orange County