During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Minnesota Diversified Industries (“MDI”) is saluting people who have stepped ahead, above and beyond in the name of equitable opportunity and employment for people with disabilities.
In a time of worker shortages and employment uncertainty, actively attracting and hiring people with disabilities is a way to recruit a dedicated workforce, boost DEI efforts that benefit everyone, and enhance overall business success by adding different perspectives and ways of thinking.
At Boston Scientific, we strive to create an inclusive culture where diverse perspectives, experiences and ideas are honored and where all employees can bring their full, authentic selves to work. Working with companies like MDI and Mind Shift helps us identify new talent who can contribute to our mission of transforming lives through innovative medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the world.
Two years ago, we put together a plan for a pilot program to augment staffing in our production areas at our Maple Grove site by employing individuals with disabilities. Although there was collective buy-in for the program, the path forward wasn’t clear or laid out. It took time, vision and commitment. Fortunately, Boston Scientific is a company that is so supportive of diversity, equity and inclusion. Anytime we’ve asked leadership for support, they’ve opened their arms and said, “Absolutely, what do you want? How can we help?” And that mindset goes to the top of the organization.
We knew we had to start small. I had a personal connection to MDI, a local manufacturing company whose workforce is comprised of 50 percent of people with disabilities and organized a tour of their facility. Our team, inspired by the tour, thought we can do this, too. To start, we identified possible production units and worked with managers and trainers to better understand the job positions that would benefit from the program. After our conversation, we contacted Mind Shift, a staffing agency that identifies employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum. During this time, we focused on training Boston Scientific employees, managers, supervisors and trainers, who would be in contact with prospective candidates, to better understand autism, how it may be manifested, and misconceptions about it. It gave everyone involved an opportunity to learn, appreciate and ask questions.
At Boston Scientific, we value the skills, experiences and perspectives of every employee — it is what helps innovation thrive. We challenge ourselves to better understand each individual’s capabilities, create opportunities to expand and build skills, and provide an inclusive environment where all employees can succeed. We applied that same philosophy to this program. We started by giving candidates a tour of our production floor and processes. During the tour, they were able to get a better sense of the expectations for the positions, including seeing how the job is done and having the opportunity to ask questions of operators doing the work. When candidates walk away from the tour, we hope that they feel that they can be successful—and that Boston Scientific may be the right place for them.
We’re currently piloting this program with eight individuals working in two different businesses in the Twin Cities and are working to expand to our other sites at Boston Scientific. There’s so much pride in our group knowing that we’ve played a small role helping others realize their potential and there is support to expand the program further. It’s a very rewarding feeling to know that you’ve gained a valuable member on your team, and that they’re valued for their contributions and accepted for who they are as a person.