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Hiring the Disabled Is Shrewd Business

“Hiring the Disabled Is Shrewd Business”

Sandra Brock, owner of First Class Packaging Inc. in El Cajon, Calif., knows firsthand the challenges that disabled employees face. Brock runs a 12-year-old company with $1.5 million in annual sales — and she walks with a brace as a result of polio. Among her 18 employees, two are disabled and three were welfare recipients. And all of them couldn’t be more satisfied with the arrangement.

Brock, who won the 1999 Evan Kemp Entrepreneurship Award given by the President’s Committee on Employment of People With Disabilities, insists that hiring disabled or "welfare-to-work" candidates is shrewd business.

A Dedicated Staff

"They’ll never leave me," she says. "There’s still a stigma attached to disabled workers and welfare recipients, so no one else would give them an opportunity. And they’re all doing wonderfully here."

Rather than foist disabled or welfare-to-work hires on her supervisors, Brock involves her managers in the interview process. The supervisors and candidates must like each other from the start — or Brock doesn’t make a job offer.

Expanding Hiring Horizons

To find candidates, Brock has contacted local career centers, work-training facilities for the disabled, the Small Business Administration and the Service Corps of Retired Executives.

Brock advises entrepreneurs to apply for state and federal funding to make their workplaces accessible to disabled employees, rather than treating it as an out-of-pocket expense.

For more information on hiring the disabled, see the Web site for the President’s Committee on Employment of People With Disabilities (www.pcepd.gov).

Writer: Morey Stettner