When thinking about people with disabilities, some people tend to focus on cures or charity, thinking that the social problem is with the person’s body or mind, said Stacey Milbern. But what they may not realize is that society itself needs to change; that many places can still be inaccessible and not inclusive, she added.
“People with disabilities aren’t looking for charity,” Milbern said. “We want equal opportunity. We want to be seen in our entirety.”
Milbern has worked as an accommodations consultant for Wells Fargo’s Corporate Human Resources department in San Francisco for two years. In her role she supports team members and managers in talking about and providing accommodations people might need at work, like a sit/stand desk for back pain or time off for clinical anxiety.
Before working for Wells Fargo, Milbern led leadership and employment programs for disability rights nonprofit organizations. During that time, she realized that the private sector still had some work to do bridging gaps for people with disabilities.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 8.4 percent, compared to 4.4 percent for people who do not have disabilities. “It’s barely shifted in the last 40 years,” Milbern said. “I felt like if I worked in the private sector, I could learn more about what is needed. That’s why I came to Wells Fargo and am passionate about the work we’re doing.”
Being aware of these statistics and having conversations about them is important, especially during October — National Disability Employment Awareness Month — Milbern said. The campaign, promoted by the Department of Labor, honors the contributions of employees with disabilities and provides education about the value of an inclusive workforce.
“The biggest challenge is that society doesn’t understand what the barriers are,” Milbern said. “It’s still an inaccessible society. October is a great time to engage in these conversations around being more inclusive of people with disabilities.”
Wells Fargo has a commitment to recruit, retain, and advance people with disabilities, receiving a rating of 100 percent on the national Disability Equality Index® Best Places to Work list in August 2017 for the second consecutive year. Milbern said she believes Wells Fargo is a leader in hiring people with disabilities, and creates awareness and inclusion through its Diverse Abilities Team Member Network, which has 5,200 members across the company.
“I see our recruiters actively thinking about what they need to know for hiring people with disabilities, and I see that Wells Fargo understands it makes business sense to respond to our client base growing older and sometimes acquiring disabilities,” Milbern said.
Milbern and other team members will participate in multiple events across Wells Fargo to recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month, resulting in more awareness of disability employment issues. “There will always be people with disabilities,” Milbern said. “It’s a natural part of human diversity. If society could be more inclusive, that’s a conversation we need to be having.”