Getting a job today is tough. But tack on an additional degree of difficulty if you are disabled. Fortunately, that’s not true if you want to work at CSC. The outsourcing service provider has formed a special partnership to “level the playing field” for candidates with disabilities.
Just ask Danny McIlwain, a burn victim. He lost one arm and three fingers on the other hand in a grease fire. “It’s harder to get a job when you have a disability,” he says. “You know you are more qualified, but the employer always finds an excuse not to pick you.”
He joined CSC to help with PC refresh deployment in 2003. After being promoted four times, he now works in CSC’s network administration department.
McIlwain came to CSC through its partnership with Bender Consulting Services in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For the last 12 years CSC has worked with founder Joyce Bender to find candidates to participate in its Diversity Program.
“Joyce’s candidates are an untapped resource for CSC,” says Leanne Thomas, Senior Manager, Human Resources and CSC/Bender Partnership Liaison in North America. “This is not a pity model,” she continues. “It is a business model. The goal is to find qualified people to work for CSC.” Adds Bender, “CSC HR and hiring managers are special because they are only looking at talent. They only focus on one thing: Can the person get the job done?”
How the Diversity Program with Bender Consulting works
The program started in Delaware when DuPont transitioned its employees to CSC at the beginning of their outsourcing engagement. “I got a call from CSC asking me to help them build a labor pool with people with disabilities,” recalls Bender, who herself is disabled. (She has epilepsy.)
Today CSC has employees in the program from Maryland to Montreal. Currently she says the company has targeted 100 positions in IT, accounting, engineering, and finance.
Bender hires the candidates to work for CSC. But Bender Consulting pays them and provides healthcare. They work on a six-month contract in an entry-level position. If they perform well, they transition to the company. Then, like McIlwain, they join the Bender Ambassador Program and focus on working their way up.
Thomas says the success rate is over 85 percent. In January 2010 CSC made the list of the top 50 employers for person with disabilities from CAREERS & the disABLED Magazine. In November 2009 CSC won the National Eagle Leadership Institute’s (NELI) Award for Diversity and Inclusion.
Two CSC success stories
Bender says she focuses on people with “significant disabilities,” which she defines as people who are blind or deaf, those who use a wheelchair, or who have epilepsy.
McIlwain, who was airlifted to the hospital packed in ice after the fire, says before he was hired by Bender, employers wanted to hire him after reading his resume but changed their minds “when they saw me. Then I wouldn’t even get a call back.” Things changed when he went to CSC. “They are very welcoming,” he says.
Sean Dolan, currently an Associate Contracts Administrator, feels the same way. In 1999 the mortgage broker spent the weekend visiting friends at the beach and dove head first into the ocean. He suffered a spinal cord injury, which left him a quadriplegic. He met Bender representatives at a Washington, D.C. job fair. The company hired him quickly and placed him with CSC as a database administrator.
“I didn’t know much about outsourcing” when he first went to CSC. He likes the work and appreciates what CSC has done for him. There were few parking spots reserved for people with disabilities before he arrived; now he has his own space for his van. The company raised his desk so his wheelchair fits comfortably underneath. He says his co-workers and managers have been supportive and accepting. “I owe Joyce and CSC a lifetime of thanks,” he says.
Thomas says the program has been so successful, department heads ask her for a Bender candidate when they have an opening. “They will call me and explain the skills required,” she reports.
In addition, the partnership sponsors a disability mentoring day which brings together students from local high schools to the CSC site in Delaware. “We provide job shadowing opportunities and teach the kids how to dress and what to put on a resume,” says Thomas.
Bender herself got started late. She was an executive recruiter who had fainting spells. In 1985 she reached for a Diet Coke and wound up in a hospital in a coma. She had brain surgery and received the news that she had epilepsy. When she went back to work three months later, she discovered it was difficult for people with disabilities to get an IT or HR job. She spent the next 10 years trying to get companies interested in hiring disabled workers. In 1995 she formed her own company. In 1999 she received the President’s Award for her efforts in furthering employment and empowerment of people with disabilities.
According to the Department of Labor, over 70 percent of people with disabilities are not in the workforce. Joyce Bender and CSC are trying to change that.
Lessons from the Outsourcing Journal:
- Outsourcing service providers can reach an untapped market when they hire disabled workers.
- Disabled workers typically do well as non-disabled employees. At CSC, the success rate over the last 12 years has been over 85 percent.