Flint summit set to coax Michigan companies to hire disabled workers
Lansing — Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and state Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein are convening a summit of employers next month in Flint to encourage them to hire workers with disabilities.
The Republican lieutenant governor and Democratic high court justice have traveled the state together over the past year to speak together about issues affecting Michigan’s disabled residents. Calley has an autistic daughter, and Bernstein is blind.
On June 21, Calley and Bernstein will host a MI Hidden Talent workshop for business owners and human resources managers at Riverfront Banquet Center in downtown.
The one-day workshop will feature speakers and sessions focused on helping employers become more prepared for hiring disabled workers, Calley said.
“The systems we have today often overlook or completely miss the talent that’s out there and really want to be engaged and involved,” he said Monday.
Employers who attend the conference will learn about alternative methods to evaluating a person’s ability beyond the “old fashioned” over-the-desk job interview, Calley said.
For example, Calley said, a person with autism who has strong analytical and computation skills may not have very good communication skills because of the complex brain disorder. There are different ways to evaluate their qualifications, Calley said.
“We’re providing the resources to businesses so they begin to take action and create an inclusive workforce that benefits everyone,” Bernstein said in a statement.
Kathleen Burris, workforce initiatives manager at CVS pharmacies, will be the keynote speaker at the workshop.
Workshop attendees also will be connected with employment agencies that help disabled workers find jobs.
“A lot of employers don’t even know they exist,” Calley said.
Bernstein and Calley are planning two additional workshops on hiring disable workers later this year.
Calley said the first workshop is being held in Flint, in part, because he is spending three days a week there as part of the state’s management of Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis.
The Disability Network, an advocacy group for people with disabilities, also is based in Flint, giving another reason to hold the workshop there, Calley said.
“I’m looking for opportunities to invite people to Flint to see first hand the chances of opportunity the city has,” Calley said.
For information about the workshop, go to www.mihiddentalent.com.