Medtronic, Inc., headquartered in Minneapolis, had a successful 2004 partnering with the local Business Leadership Network (BLN). The US Business Leadership Network is a national organization that supports the development and expansion of Business Leadership Networks across the country, serving as their collective voice. The USBLN recognizes and promotes best practices in hiring, retaining and marketing to people with disabilities throughout the United States. Local Business Leadership Networks have been developing across the country since the first pilot program was launched in 1994. Presently there are 37 chapters throughout the country, including the Minnesota Chapter that meets monthly at the Medtronic World headquarters facility in Fridley.
Throughout 2004, the MNBLN offered training sessions to businesses on various topics of interest. The Employers Association provided training on “Disability in the Workplace, A Competitive Advantage.” Attendees gained an understanding of how employing people with disabilities can contribute to an organization’s bottom line in many ways. Participants also learned that the actual costs of reasonable accommodation typically range from zero dollars to a minimal investment. American Express Financial Advisors disAbility Network sponsored a session on “Understanding, Managing and Accommodating Hidden Disabilities,” which addressed the issue of the need to raise awareness and provide more information on disabilities.
Statistics show that the number of people with disabilities is on the rise. In 1994, the census indicated that one in five Americans has a disability. By 2010, the census projects that one in three Americans will have a disability. The session also pointed out that people frequently don’t think about or understand hidden disabilities because of a lack of information and education.
Medtronic hosted “Minnesota Career Development for the 21st Century” in October in conjunction with Disability Employment Awareness month. The event was attended by college students with disabilities as well as representatives from 3M, American Express Finacial, Cargill, Northwest Airlines, Federal Executive Council of Agencies, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the State of Minnesota. Senator Debbie Johnson, who was instrumental in securing Governor Pawlenty’s proclamation of Disability Mentoring Day in the state of Minnesota, was a special guest. Keynote speaker Olegario Cantos VII, Special Assistant-to-Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acost, presented his thoughts on the “Power of Perseverance.”
The Minnesota BLN is dedicated to the vision of every employer recognizing and benefiting from the best practice of including people with disabilities in their workforce and marketplace. To serve a diverse market, businesses must provide products and services expected by their customers by finding the right combination of employees, products, services and suppliers. Whether an organization wants to maximize tax incentives, develop an employee base with above-average loyalty, take advantage of creative solutions to important business needs, or maintain compliance with an affirmative action plan, employees with disabilities remain a critical resource. Medtronic is proud of its relationship with the Minnesota BLN, the work done in partnership in 2004 and looks forward to continued success throughout 2005.
For more information on becoming involved in the leadership that makes change occur so that hiring people with disabilities becomes a priority and barriers to employment become dismantled, please contact the Minnesota Business Leadership Network at www.mnbln.org for more information.
Medtronic, Inc., headquartered in Minneapolis, is the world’s leading medical technology company, providing lifelong solutions for people with chronic disease. Medtronic’s internet address is www.medtronic.com