Microsoft’s Inclusive Culture Provides Many Opportunities To People With Disabilities

photo of chris schlechty, a microsoft employee in his wheelchair.

We learned a few months ago about Microsoft’s hiring program for candidates on the Autism spectrum but that is not Microsoft’s only initiative towards creating a diverse workforce and inclusive culture. The success of that pilot initiative paved way for several more, thus providing more opportunities for people with disabilities to gain employment, be independent, and become fully integrated members of their respective communities.

Microsoft has recognized that it can provide great opportunities to people with disabilities, and since it has a very strong network of vendors that provide various types of services, the company has started a “Supported Employment Program” that provides employment to people with developmental disabilities in various Microsoft facilities throughout the Puget Sound area in the state of Washington. These employment opportunities range from dining and transportation to facility services, office administration, and many more. Roles may include food prep, janitorial, dishwasher, landscaping, reception, office moves, office administration, and furniture warehouse to name a few. The employees who perform these duties are provided specialized ongoing training and one on one coaching to ensure success. To learn more about this program, and to see a list of participating employment agencies, click here.

Microsoft also has a “disAbility Employee Resource Group” for employees with hearing loss, visual impairments, attention deficit disorder, mobility disabilities, dyslexia, and other disabilities. More than a thousand members in this group work with Microsoft initiatives to improve accessibility features in products ,and also organize “Ability Summit”, an annual summit that facilitates innovative thinking around accessibility and assistive technology. The summit focusses on the engineering side of accessibility, and addresses several societal and social aspects of disability in the workplace, home, and community. Learn more about the group here.

In order to encourage people with disabilities to apply for jobs at Microsoft, and also to let everyone know how and why Microsoft is taking these initiatives to promote an inclusive culture, The company has also created an inclusive hiring website that lists details of not only all the hiring programs it has for people with disabilities, but also all the jobs related to accessibility that anyone can apply to. This website also has a dedicated section for success stories, and each of these stories highlight how different individuals with disabilities at Microsoft have been successful in their respective roles.

With all these programs and initiatives, Microsoft is definitely setting an example that other employers can follow. There are several job agencies and not for profits that provide employment to people with disabilities, however, in the grand scheme of things, we don’t see many people with disabilities working in a typical workplace. Assistive technology has, without a doubt, come a long way in the last decade or so. Employers need to be aware of technological breakthroughs in that realm, and understand that with a little training, coaching, and supervision, they can not only provide employment to people with disabilities, but through their talent and skills, ensure greater success for their own products and services.

Source: US Department of Labor Blog

Image Source: Microsoft Jobs Blog

1 Comments

  1. As a canadian federal public service employe and on behalf of Persons with Disabilities, it’s about time. Thank you. I honestly believe that PWD’s problem solving capabilities, resilienice, lived experiences, and creativity will save this world. I’d love and appreciate any resources and feedback on successes, failures, policies, framework, ect.
    Thank you
    Accessibility-by-Default
    PW

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