October 2, 2019 Lindsay Smith

Celebrate NDEAM with Charles Schwab!

This October, Charles Schwab celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month!

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has been celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) for over 70 years. To commemorate 2019 they’ve chosen the theme “The Right Talent, Right Now.” Throughout its history, NDEAM has undergone significant transformation correlating with the evolution in perspective on diversity, resources, and politics surrounding disability and employment in the United States. Following the transformation, this year’s theme “emphasizes the essential role people with disabilities play in America’s economic success, especially in an era when historically low unemployment and global competition are creating high demand for skilled talent.”

To shine insight on the role Schwab is playing in corporate America’s progress towards deeper and more holistic inclusivity in the workplace, we interviewed two members of the recently established Charles Schwab Abilities Network (CSAN). Penni Evenden, the new Chair for Orlando’s CSAN chapter, has been with Schwab for twenty years. After two decades with Schwab, Penni was glad to have the opportunity to make improvements for individuals with disabilities at the company. With her trust in leadership at Schwab and the accumulation of support she has received in her time with the company, Penni is optimistic about the improvements the group can make: “Schwab has been great to me and this is fantastic that they’re putting it at the forefront and getting momentum. Schwab is a place where anyone can work who has the drive and desire—the management and VP are so supportive.”

Although the Orlando chapter just held their first meeting a few weeks ago, there are fifteen members (including both new hires and more tenured individuals), which is more than Penni anticipated. Her focuses as chair will be on how to make changes for employees, how to recruit employees with disabilities, how to support the community through volunteering, and how to ensure they are equipped and have the continued support to effect change. She encourages members of CSAN—and individuals considering joining—to “bring your ideas, your wish-list. This is for you—your goals, what you want to do in the community. It’s ours for the making.”

Another Orlando Schwabbie, Maxine (Max) Fredericks, says “it means a lot” to work for a company that recognizes NDEAM “because they’re willing to work with you and see you as a person and not as ‘broken’—that you can still contribute and help the company grow.” Similarly, Max is brimming with optimism about the impact their CSAN chapter can make on the company as a whole and is particularly energized by the opportunity to educate others on disabilities in the workplace.

Schwab has been intentional about empowering, educating and advocating for people with disabilities. There have been strides in creating inclusive spaces for people with disabilities and allies to talk about what matters most to their community. In turn, this leads to conversations about how to create better pathways of success for talent with disabilities. For example, a new initiative called Abilities @ Schwab has recently been developed to connect the dots between community organizations, internal advocacy groups— such as CSAN and the Schwab Accommodations team—and Talent Attraction to form a holistic approach for supporting existing, and future,  Schwabbies with disabilities.

“We recognize the difficulties that People with Disabilities face throughout the hiring process, and sometimes those challenges persist into their everyday work inside of an organization. We want to continue to drive inclusivity in our hiring process and develop a community that not only provides resources but empowers our Schwabbies with disabilities to help drive the changes that they want to see in our organization.”, says Rachel Raines a member of the Diversity and Inclusion team at Schwab. The program charges all Schwabbies to get involved in these progressive efforts, championing a united “One Schwab” approach.

For ideas on how to participate, check out ODEP’s 31 Days of NDEAM, which offers actionable ideas on how you can celebrate throughout the month.