Commerce_22_05_digital - Page 21



Hiring People with Disabilities for the Hospitality Industry

A commentary on the UP Employment Initiative , a new pilot program .
By Jeremy Einbinder Contributing Editor

An upstart organization is working hard to give people with disabilities the opportunity to thrive in the hospitality industry . Asia Wilson for WSPA News in Greensboro , North Carolina writes , “ The ‘ Up Employment Initiative ’, which stands for Upward Professionals , is a pilot program designed to bring people with disabilities into the industry . The program will help support the employment of eight people with disabilities and one intern who will work a variety of jobs at a hotel … from front desk to housekeeping .”

People with disabilities remain one of the most underemployed demographics of people in the country . Sure , there is lots of work that someone with disabilities might not be able to do , but equally so , there is lots of work that they might be able to perform in a proficient way if they were only given the opportunity .
A blog for whosonthemove . com expands on the proposal , thusly : “ The UP Employment Initiative will provide employment opportunities to eight individuals with disabilities and one intern through Hospitality America and the Windsor Aughtry Hotel Group in Greenville . The Barbara Stone Foundation will support the program by providing a job liaison who will work with each employee on an individual basis to ensure sustainability and success .”
This disability community is clearly capable of showcasing stability and success , which the program seeks to foster and unleash .
The blog continues : “ The Foundation ’ s UP Employment Initiative offers a pathway to employment and a common-sense solution to a complicated problem for individuals living with disabilities who need employment opportunities ,” said Lara Ceisel , executive director of the Barbara Stone Foundation . “ With the right programs and support , more people can thrive in the proper workplace environment . By aligning with two business leaders in this area , the Barbara Stone Foundation is launching a program that will impact Greenville and local citizens for generations to come .”
In the peak of the COVID‐19 pandemic , the hotel management company , Hospitality America was having trouble retaining employees . UP Employment Initiative , partnering with the Barbara Stone Foundation , could change this . While it is sad that people with disabilities have been historically excluded from employment opportunities , any small window of opportunity is worth exploring .
“ The numbers before the pandemic , Hospitality America employed about 700 employees ; post pandemic , we ’ re a little over half of that , so the need to go out and find creative ways for employment in our industry as tourism comes back , specifically in Greenville , to go out and find ways to keep our businesses thriving with good people that have passion and
Inclusion in the hospitality industry is important for the disability community .
Photo : Getty Images / iStockphoto / SolStock want to work , we came across the Barbara Stone Foundation ,” said Hospitality America Chief Operating Officer David Berger .
Inclusion in the hospitality industry is important for the disability community . Hospitality is one of most front-facing industries . Unfortunately , the prevailing attitude for the able-bodied and neurotypical public seems to be to forget about us for as long as they can . People with disabilities , however , are one of the largest minority groups . We can be anywhere . The public might not even recognize some people as disabled , but being disabled in invisible ways can be just as much of a struggle . Being disabled in invisible ways can have the same effects of underemployment as being disabled visibly .
This sort of targeted searching , affirmative action of sorts ; has excellent potential and could easily spread nationally . It is a small initiative now , but it needs a chance to prove itself successful , to give the disabled population a sort of hope that they did not have before , to work in a sort of program which has their needs at the front .
With the initial reluctance of employers to hire disabled people out of their own funding , it is at least promising that non-profit organizations are funding such an effort . It is also extremely promising that job liaisons will work to ensure our employment skills are properly cultivated and our accommodations assured .
Crucially , with enough time and enough chances to prove ourselves in front-facing industries such as hospitality , any hotel company , restaurant group or the like could become a go-to spot for people with disabilities and their families . Chances are that enough disabled employees will have appropriate suggestions on how to properly accommodate disabled guest . If this happens , any company boasting about a conscious effort to ensure disability inclusion at their company has an excellent chance to become more known , more famous , more prosperous .
Upon seeing this active effort , should it spread across the country , people with disabilities have the chance to feel safe , to be part of the outside world . People with disabilities have unique challenges when it comes to finding jobs . They also have unique challenges with receiving proper accommodations as guests . This is a chance to solve both problems at once .
Jeremy Einbinder is a freelance writer specializing in disability advocacy .
May 2022 COMMERCE 19