New Michigan Biz Feeds Corporate Bottom Line By Adding Citizens with Disabilities to Workforce

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(Aug. 1, 2011) Big Tent Jobs, LLC, a Michigan-based recruiting firm, has opened in Southfield. The company’s mission is to improve corporate performance and social responsibility by placing talented people with disabilities at companies in Michigan and beyond, according to founder and CEO Adam Kaplan.

Kaplan, a 15-year veteran of the corporate world, understands the needs of employers to recruit and retain talent who positively impact the bottom line. The last 20 years have shown that Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforcement and company good-will are not enough. “Management will only listen to a strong business case that appeals to sound talent management principles first, and social and communal responsibility second,” Kaplan says.

There is much work to be done. In the 20+ years since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed, the rate of individuals with disabilities in the workforce has not markedly improved. In fact, studies have shown that during parts of the current recession, working-age individuals with disabilities have lost jobs at rates up to three times as high as non-disabled individuals. (Source: “Disability Funders Network”).

Big Tent Jobs’ candidates include hearing- and visually-impaired individuals, as well as individuals who use wheelchairs and those who have emotional disabilities.  They are engineers, lawyers, accountants and IT personnel.  “What unites them is their dedication and desire to be productive citizens and secure the job that they need and deserve,” Kaplan says.

Coinciding with the launch of Big Tent Jobs, Detroit Public Television will showcase the company on “A Wider World,” a show about people of all abilities that airs nationally on PBS.

“This is an important story and we are excited to tell it,” says Elizabeth Kelly, producer and host of “A Wider World.” The show will air in markets nationwide beginning Aug. 3 and will be shown on Detroit Public Television on Aug. 9 at 5:30 pm. The program will also be available for upload via YouTube.

“The story of successful individuals with disabilities in the workplace is of great interest to viewers,” says Kaplan. “It shows that skilled individuals can find well-paying jobs that allow them to showcase their talents and strengths, regardless of their disabilities.”

Many of the candidates featured on “A Wider World,” as well as other candidates working with Big Tent Jobs, are available for comment, as are companies that have engaged Big Tent Jobs in their searches for the best talent in Michigan.

“As Sen. John McCain said, ‘people with disabilities have the right to share in the American dream,” Kaplan says. “People with disabilities have been adapting to life’s challenges all their lives. Their inclusion in a company enhances collaboration, increases customer loyalty and helps exceed company objectives.”

“A Wider World” is an independently produced PBS  television program and the only regularly airing show in the US with the overarching theme of inclusion and ability. The show is seen in about 45 U.S. markets, throughout Canada and in northern Europe and parts of the Caribbean. “A Wider World” is now in its eleventh year of broadcast on PBS. The magazine style half hour show features stories that inspire, break down stigma, educate and promote inclusion.

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