In the late 1980s and early 90s I remember recognizing employers for their support of hiring people with disabilities each October for National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Our goal was to honor these employers and to bring visibility to the successful employment of people with disabilities, one solution to an employer’s hiring needs. More than 25 years later many people with disabilities still face the challenge of finding and maintaining a job.

Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month and recognizing people with disabilities and the businesses that hire them is important. However, the question remains why so many people with disabilities are unemployed. Although there has been significant legislative action to encourage competitive inclusive employment at both the national and state levels, the piece that appears to be missing is how to engage businesses more effectively in the conversation of people with disabilities being part of a business’s hiring solution. In a country where work is such an important component in our lives we should all consider our networks and how to advocate more for the employment of people with disabilities.

MDI has successfully employed people with disabilities from its early beginnings in 1964. MDI is a manufacturing organization that provides standard and custom packaging solutions, production services, and environmental services for business-to-business customers. MDI has operated as a successful, non-profit 501(c)(3) social enterprise for over 50 years, providing meaningful job opportunities for people with disabilities in an inclusive setting, both at MDI and in the community. MDI has facilities in the Twin Cities, Grand Rapids, Hibbing, Cohasset and Deer River, Minnesota.

In 2015 MDI employed over 650 people, almost 280 of whom were people with disabilities. On our production floors, people with and without disabilities work side-by-side to produce the best possible product for our customers. We believe everyone has the right to contribute and be a valued, respected member of our workforce and their community.

To learn more about how businesses can successfully employ people with disabilities follow the below links:
MDI made better opportunities for disability workers
The power of an inclusive workplace
National Disability Employment Awareness Month