This month we are focusing our posts around another aspect of diversity in employment: diversity for people with disabilities. We have presented some research of the benefits for companies that are intentionally inclusive of people with disabilities and wanted to highlight an Indiana social enterprise that provides employment and training for people with vision impairments: Bosma Enterprises.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Lise Pace from Bosma Enterprises to discuss diversity in employment and why it means so much to her. Lise has worked at Bosma Enterprises for 10 years and currently serves as the Vice President for External Affairs.
Lise is extremely passionate about impacting policy for people that are visually-impaired and promoting outreach so that more people know about Bosma’s services and business capabilities. The mission of Bosma Enterprises is personal to Lise due to being diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa when she was 24. After being diagnosed, Lise continued to work in finance for the next 13 years until she believed her vision was too poor to continue working.
Always wired to work, she became restless after staying at home for 8 years but was unaware of any resources that could help her find a job or support her in that job. After doing a Google search, Bosma Enterprises popped up and she went for a tour. She has been working for them since.
We asked Lise a few questions about her experiences at Bosma:
Q: How has working for Bosma Enterprises allowed you to learn more about diversity in employment?
A: When I first came to Bosma for a tour and walked the halls, I was so surprised at just how integrated it was--there were sighted people and people who are blind working together at all levels of the company. It really changed my perspective and showed me that blind people can absolutely have and achieve the same career aspirations as sighted people.
Q: What are some of the ways Bosma encourages diversity in employment in their own company as well as other companies in Indianapolis?
A: Here at Bosma we are always looking for the best candidate regardless if they do or do not have a disability. We want to recruit the best, brightest, and most qualified employee before any other factor. When an employer has this mindset and determination to hire the most qualified, they will end up with a wide representation of people. We are also extremely committed to upward mobility and want to support our employees to reach their personal career goals.
Q: How can companies promote diversity in employment in their organization, specifically for people with disabilities?
A: Bosma Enterprises has an employment services division that focuses on placing people who are blind with jobs in the community. We assist both employers and employees ensuring good employment outcomes. We also help to dispel any myths or fears employers may have about hiring people with disabilities.
Q: Why is diversity in employment important to you?
A: This cause is so personal to me because of my experience and I have the benefit of seeing people enter one of our rehabilitation programs with no hope and by the end, it has been restored. These people are able to be financially independent, obtain a successful career, and take care of their families. For employers, they get a rich workforce representative of their whole community. It’s a win-win for everyone.
In 2018, Bosma Enterprises served over 800 people and placed employees in over 30 different companies. These statistics are a testament to how employers are becoming more aware and willing to accept the most qualified candidates in a variety of different positions regardless of disability.