Inclusive Talent Solutions
Leah Burdick, PRIDE Industries Chief Growth Officer, recently spoke with Doug Thomas of the Sacramento Public File. In this interview. Leah explains how PRIDE Industries fulfills its mission to create employment for people with disabilities. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Doug Thomas (DT): Good morning and welcome to the Public File. I’m Doug Thomas and my guest for this segment is Leah Burdick, the Chief Growth Officer for PRIDE Industries. Please share some background on PRIDE Industries.
Leah Burdick (LB): PRIDE Industries is a social enterprise. That means we provide business services that fuel our mission of creating employment for people with disabilities. We also provide support services to help people with disabilities succeed in the workforce.
We’ve been around for 56 years now. We started in 1966, when a group of parents gathered in Auburn to find a way to create jobs for their adult children with disabilities. Their first business was building birdhouses and selling them to local businesses. And from that beginning, we’ve grown into an organization that operates in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Our employees can be found working in Fortune 500 companies, on military bases, and in local businesses.
DT: The term “disability” covers a lot of conditions. How unique and varied are PRIDE Industries clients?
LB: When people think of disabilities, they often think of a physical disability or perhaps an intellectual or developmental disability. People might thing of learning disabilities like autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. But there are other types of disabilities as well, like traumatic brain injury. There are also psychological or mental disabilities. Depression and PTSD are types of disabilities too, and we’ve certainly seen a rise in those since the start of the pandemic.
And no matter the disability, PRIDE Industries is there to help. We place people with disabilities in roles that run the gamut from office professional to construction worker, lead custodian to groundskeeper. Any role that you think of, a person with a disability can do.
Employees with Disabilities: A Proven Workforce
DT: What’s the best way for businesses to find out more about hiring people with disabilities?
LB: Businesses can go to PRIDEIndustries.com. Then they can either call the number listed, or they can fill out our web form. Either way, we’ll be in touch with them within 24 hours.
DT: What would you say to someone in our audience who has a disability and wants to work?
LB: Don’t get discouraged. We are here to help. Please call 844-I-AM-ABLE to speak to one of our case managers. We’ll assess your situation, get you connected to support services, and speak to you about different jobs that you might like to do. Family members and caregivers of people with disabilities are also welcome to call.
DT: What are some of the challenges that people with disabilities face when it comes to finding a job?
LB: We’re in an era of increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, which is wonderful. But all too often, people with disabilities still aren’t part of that conversation. Companies don’t always include them in their talent acquisition planning. And that’s a loss for everyone, because people with disabilities are an amazing source of untapped talent, and their skills and dedication are especially needed in today’s difficult hiring environment. Everyone has talent; everyone has something to contribute.
DT: What types of employment are you able to find for your clients?
LB: We always have a lot of jobs available, especially in landscaping, custodial, and facilities management. We have quite a number of office jobs as well. And we hire a lot of job coaches—people with and without disabilities—who provide mentorship and on-the-job coaching to help people with disabilities succeed in the workplace. People can visit PRIDEIndustries.com and check out the available jobs.
DT: Who are some of the global and local companies that partner with PRIDE industries?
LB: We work with VSP Global, SMUD, HP, Compass Group, Ingram Micro, and Amazon, among other large companies. Locally, we have employees at Hard Rock, Thunder Valley, Knee Deep Brewing, Raley’s, and Neck Nosh Pretzel Necklaces. We provide services to businesses of all sizes.
PRIDE Industries Helps Businesses of All Sizes Reach Their Inclusivity Goals
DT: When companies hire PRIDE Industries employees, what kind of support do they receive?
LB: We work with the employer to help them create a more inclusive workplace. We help ensure that the proper accommodations are in place for the employee to contribute and succeed, which studies have shown helps drive profitability and sales. We also provide job training for employees with disabilities, as well as on-the-job coaching, if needed.
DT: I bet you’ve got more than a few success stories. Can you share one of them with us?
LB: There’s so many to choose from…We have an employee who experienced a traumatic brain injury that required her to relearn her ABCs. She had been a writer, and while her writing skills weren’t much affected, her speech was. She joined our proposal writing team and continued to heal on the job as she helped with proposals. She’s very productive, and a great team member.
DT: What do companies say about the quality and caliber of PRIDE Industries employees?
LB: Companies tell us all the time what a pleasure it is to have PRIDE Industries employees in their workplaces, how it boosts morale, even among employees without disabilities. We also hear that customers like it too. A lot of customers want to buy from companies that are giving back and having a social impact.
DT: Why should I consider hiring someone with a disability through PRIDE Industries?
LB: We’ve always known that people with disabilities make great employees. But especially now, given the labor market that we’re in, a lot of more companies want to work with us. They’re seeing that we provide quality talent with high retention rates.
DT: Are there any sponsors you’d like to say thanks to this morning? And could you use some volunteers?
LB: We’re lucky to have some wonderful local partners who support our Michael Ziegler PRIDE Industries Foundation—Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Sutter Health, Teichert, Ticket To Dream, The Walter S. Johnson Foundation, The Kelly Foundation, Placer Community Foundation, and more. Their generosity helps fund programs like our I AM ABLE Employment Helpline and job internships.
DT: What’s the best way for our listeners to help support PRIDE Industries?
LB: They can go to our website and click on the donation button. And certainly, please share our helpline. Call 844-I-AM-ABLE and we can get people on the pathway to meaningful employment.
Service Solutions to Help Your Business Grow
In addition to providing employment solutions to businesses of all sizes, PRIDE Industries offers a broad range of manufacturing and commercial facilities services.
When the need for skilled hospital workers skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals scrambled to find staff. This shortage included environmental technicians—employees who contribute significantly to the health and safety of patients, staff, and guests by keeping healthcare facilities clean.
With the emergence of this challenge, we saw a chance to help solve it—all while expanding employment for people with disabilities. Thanks to generous support to The Michael Ziegler PRIDE Industries Foundation, including a grant from Kaiser Permanente, we created a skills lab to train participants for roles as environmental technicians. Over 30 individuals have now completed the course and become eligible for a significant pay raise and new career path.
Join us in our mission
Your donations make it possible for us to offer customized training programs and support that people with disabilities need to gain employment.
Partnering to Create Employment for People With Disabilities
Parents Alliance Employment Project (PAEP) was founded in 1982 by parents fighting to mainstream their children with disabilities in public schools and their DuPage County, Illinois communities. Today, PAEP is an accredited state provider for people with disabilities serving DuPage and three surrounding counties. The organization is a leading Supported Employment Provider offering individuals with disabilities career counseling, job training and preparation, job development, job placement, job coaching, support, and follow-up services.
PAEP helps 200 people with disabilities find employment every year. It works with Northwestern Medicine, which hosts three Project SEARCH sites that offer three 10-week internships that allow them to gain real-life vocational skills in various hospital departments. Another program, Inspired by Ability, is a paid job training program for individuals with disabilities between 18 to 24 who have exited the school system.
Even with successful programs and 40 years of experience training and placing employees with disabilities, finding the right employment situation for each client can be challenging for organizations like PAEP. “Every client has unique abilities and disabilities, and some can be challenging to place,” said Maggie Meyer, Vocational Transitionist at PAEP. “Finding the ‘job’ is just the beginning of a successful long-term placement. Employers and employees both need support.”
When Casey Nunes, Employment Success Manager at PRIDE Industries, approached PAEP about matching the organization’s candidates with job opportunities through our Inclusive Talent Solutions partners, they knew they had found an invaluable partner. “We discussed our team and our candidates and how we could advocate for our employees,” Maggie said. “We started with two janitorial positions at Ingram Micro, and the relationship has grown from there.”
“The relationship works because Casey and PRIDE Industries are on-site to support the employer and the employee,” said PAEP program manager Khushbu Davi. “Employees get the accommodations they need, and employers get workers that exceed expectations.” PRIDE Industries and PAEP have since filled many permanent positions to date at Ingram Micro.
“I can’t overstate how valuable it is to have a partner that ‘gets it,’” Maggie said. “Casey and PRIDE Industries understand that you can’t just fill a position and step away.” She tells the story of Jad, a person who is non-verbal, who faced challenges to obtaining employment due to communication barriers. PAEP and PRIDE Industries helped Jad land a position as a fulfillment packager with a supportive employer. Both are thrilled. “When you get that right fit, it is such a great feeling,” Maggie said.
- Employment Preparation and Placement
- Job Coaching
The nonprofit social enterprise is acknowledged for sustained support in advancing workplace diversity and inclusion
Roseville, Calif. — PRIDE Industries has been recognized by the Forum on Workplace Inclusion (The Forum) in its 2022 Diversity Awards as a Winds of Change Award honorable mention.
The Forum’s Winds of Change Award goes to an individual, organization, or group that:
- Has demonstrated sustained support for advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
- Has raised awareness of workplace diversity and inclusion issues.
- Has been a catalyst for change regarding workplace diversity and inclusion and/or has impacted change within an industry, organization, or local community.
PRIDE Industries provides employment placement services for people with disabilities and trains people and organizations on how to build an inclusive workplace culture. More than 50 percent of PRIDE Industries’ workforce has a disclosed disability, demonstrating the success of an inclusive workforce model across multiple industries. The nonprofit social enterprise partners with hundreds of businesses to place people with disabilities in open positions while providing job coaching and support.
A pioneer in the inclusivity movement, PRIDE Industries’ influence stretches from small businesses to Fortune 500 organizations. Their impact also reaches veterans and former foster youth, through their Veterans Employment Advantage Program and Foster Youth Liaisons, respectively.
In 2021, PRIDE Industries launched a one-of-a-kind, free I AM ABLE Employment Helpline, connecting people with disabilities to support services and employment opportunities. Helpline support is offered in both English and Spanish.
Also in 2021, PRIDE Industries’ CEO Jeff Dern signed the CEO Action Pledge (CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion ™), committing himself and PRIDE Industries to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Since 2008, The Forum’s Diversity Awards Program has recognized individuals or organizations showcasing exemplary insight and fortitude in the area of workplace diversity. Nominations are submitted for individuals, organizations, or a group within an organization such as an Employee Resource Group or Diversity Council.
About PRIDE Industries
PRIDE Industries delivers business excellence with a positive social impact. A social enterprise, we provide facilities operations and maintenance services, custodial services, contract manufacturing, supply chain management, packaging and fulfillment services, and staffing and recruitment services to private and public organizations nationwide. Founded in 1966, PRIDE Industries’ mission is to create employment for people with disabilities. Through personalized employment services, we help individuals realize their true potential and lead more independent lives. PRIDE Industries proves the value of its inclusive workforce model through operational success across multiple industries every day. Learn more at https://PRIDEIndustries.com.
Need employment placement support?
Contact our I AM ABLE Helpline to discuss your options.
PRIDE Industries is a social enterprise delivering business excellence to public and private organizations nationwide.