“ABLED” “Awareness Benefiting Leadership and Employees with Disabilities”
Needs authors Michael Valencia and Karen Quammen
Headquartered in Minneapolis, Medtronic offers products, therapies and services that enhance the lives of millions of people. The company strives to provide a fulfilling and supportive work environment for its employees. In 1996, the Medtronic Employee Assistance program formed an employee group for parents who have children with special needs. This group provided an internal support network to help parents meet the unique demands of raising children with special needs.
The parents group offered lunchtime support meetings and educational seminars. ARC – Great River, the local advocacy group for the disabled, provided parents with a six-week course over the lunch hour about how to navigate the special education system – this course was made available via employees’ computers using IPTV technology. Financial Life Planning for Adults and Children with Special Needs was a recent educational seminar offered through the parent’s group to all Medtronic employees. The parents group recently opened up membership to all employees who want to promote awareness about disabilities in our community and the workplace and have formed a new employee resource group called ABLED.
The vision of ABLED is to support the goals of the Medtronic Office of Workplace Inclusion by assisting in the creation of an inclusive work environment where all employees are treated with respect and their differences are valued. The group also aims to support full inclusion by fostering an environment where all employees feel a level of confidence, support and belonging that allows them to maximize their full potential and productivity by focusing on their abilities, not disabilities. The kickoff event for this new group was a Career Exploration Day for students with disabilities held at the Medtronic World headquarters facility. Nearly 200 employees, students, professionals, and advocates came together to explore careers at Medtronic. The day helped promote the importance of encouraging students to develop the necessary skills to compete in today’s competitive employment market. Dr. Roy Grizzard, Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy in the U.S. Department of Labor attended and served as the keynote speaker. ABLED is working on plans to support a National Disability Mentoring Day event to be held at Medtronic World Headquarters on October 20, 2004. National Disability Mentoring Day is held every third Wednesday in October across the nation in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
The ABLED group is presently working on several projects in the Twin Cities area. Members recently volunteered to assist with the silent auction and served as ushers for a concert by Jewel at the Pacer 2004 Benefit Event was held on May 1st. Pacer Center provides services and programs to help children and young adults with disabilities and their families.
The ABLED group will also be participating in the “Medtronic Celebration of Courage,” which highlights the extraordinary leadership of the Twin Cities corporate community in building a workplace that welcomes people with disabilities. Leading corporations will join with title sponsor Medtronic to support the Courage Center. The Courage Center is Minnesota’s largest nonprofit rehabilitation center for people with disabilities. The August 2004 Gala will also be held at Medtronic World Headquarters.
ABLED has joined several other Medtronic resource groups in promoting an inclusive work environment. Medtronic is the world leader in medical device manufacturing, providing lifelong solutions for people with chronic diseases.