A Job Is More Than a Paycheck
Recognizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Julie Lewis is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) manager at T. Rowe Price. She is a human resources professional and neurodiversity advocate who has been with the firm for more than 25 years.
My first job as a teenager was working at The Cosmetic Center. It was like a supermarket of makeup and other beauty products. I initially was motivated to take the job by two things: the opportunity to make money for all the car-related expenses that go along with getting your driver’s license and an employee discount on electric blue mascara, which was having a moment in the mid-1980s.
While I took the job for a paycheck and the employee discount, I found additional rewards in the experience. I learned all the great lessons that work can teach you: what it is like to be part of a team, the importance of being responsible and following through on your commitments, problem-solving, how to respond professionally and appropriately to an angry customer, and more.
Since then, I’ve come to realize that working gives us more than just the means to pay our bills or support our family. It gives us a feeling of personal fulfillment and connection to others and offers opportunities to learn and grow. Holding a job also gives you feelings of independence and pride.
October 2022 marks the 77th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The goal of NDEAM is to raise awareness about disability employment issues while celebrating the contributions of workers with disabilities.
Why is disability employment awareness important? Because 15% of the world’s population, or an estimated one billion people, live with disabilities. While this is a significant population, it is a marginalized one. In developing countries, 80% to 90% of people of working age with disabilities are unemployed, whereas in industrialized countries, the figure is between 50% and 70%.
People with disabilities can face unique barriers to gaining and keeping employment. Accessibility challenges during the job search and interview processes can prevent people with disabilities from even getting their foot in the door with an employer.
Once employed, lack of accommodations, lack of understanding, and bias can become barriers to a person with a disability remaining employed. For example, challenges that can be easily remedied through reasonable accommodation are sometimes labeled as “performance problems” that lead to an employee with a disability losing employment or finding themselves given corrective action (limiting their advancement prospects).
NDEAM is an opportunity to consider how to be more inclusive in the workplace so all associates can contribute and be a meaningful part of the work we do.
T. Rowe Price recently began a partnership with Disability:IN, an organization that expands opportunities for people with disabilities across enterprises through its network of more than 400 corporations.
In addition to celebrating NDEAM with a special event, T. Rowe Price launched a neurodiversity working group to increase and expand its knowledge and awareness about neurodiversity and disability inclusion, to assess its existing accommodations and processes, and to educate leaders on hiring neurodiverse talent. I’m excited to be a part of this work and look forward to seeing how it’s integrated into our larger DEI strategy.
As we celebrate NDEAM and other celebrations of diversity, I invite you to learn more about T. Rowe Price’s DEI initiatives and how our differences bring us together at www.troweprice.com/diversity.