NOTE: This is a guest blog by a good friend. Judy Owen owner of Opportunity Works, Inc. a Florida based full-service staffing company that brings a motivated and diverse workforce to our customers. Our focus on employing people with disabilities brings value and diversity to the workforce of our customers like no one else. Contact us today to learn how we can help complete your team.
Judy is also a regular blogger on Forbes. Here is a link to her Forbes blog.
We are delighted to have our friend Judy as a guest blogger. Thank you Judy.
After 18 months in business I am now surprised when people ask me why my company is not a non-profit organization. You see I started a staffing company. There is really nothing unique in that. The staffing industry growth is robust. What is unique is that our company, Opportunity Works, focuses on recruiting people with disabilities. This leads many people first to assume that we are a non-profit and then to ask why we’re not.
We are for profit, because my mission is not driven by charity. My mission is driven by the strong business case to be made in including disability in the workplace. My employees are not charity cases. They are people. They are people who, if you look at them as a group, need work more desperately than most other Americans. They are hard-working, dedicated employees who want nothing more than to have a place where they are needed and productive and can achieve financial independence. Since the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there has been little change in employment outcomes for people with disabilities. There is currently a system of government programs, funding non-profit agencies which provide a wealth of services and training for people with disabilities.
Understand that I serve on boards for such agencies. I have served on the government funded Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (every state has one), which advocates and supports projects around employment initiatives for people with disabilities. I am not knocking these programs at all. What they have struggled with the last two decades is getting meaningful outcomes: people with disabilities all over the workplace. In my advocacy work, I decided that this is a business problem, not a charity case or social service issue.
There is plenty of research to support this theory. People with disabilities have proven to use fewer unscheduled absences, stay in positions longer and boost team morale in the workplace. Businesses desperately want dedicated employees like this. I saw a business need in my community and Opportunity Works was started to bridge this gap.
The word is spreading. I met with the CEO of a local manufacturing company recently. He could easily be my pitch man. He, like me, is very involved in policy making around his industry. He told me that Florida currently has about 6,000 manufacturing jobs that companies are having a hard time filling. People don’t have the right training. He is working on some training initiatives and including disability in that. He has two employees with disabilities in his small 25 person shop and he just plain gets it. He is not my target customer. My target customers are all his peers that don’t get it yet.
Those manufacturers are great target markets, but so are the federal contractors who will likely have some quotas thrust upon them soon. There are about 14,000 federal contractors in Florida. So, there are lots of opportunities for people to find meaningful, competitive employment and really show off their many talents.