March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month!  Employers are continuing to seek new ways to tap into underutilized talent pipelines and increase their diversity. The Greater Phoenix Chamber recently featured organizations and employers in Arizona that are embracing employees with disabilities were at our Reimagining Today’s Workforce Webinar Series.  These are the “Top 10 Takeaways” from the event to help you understand how to make intentional efforts to hire people with disabilities and learn about the support and benefits that are available.


  1. FACTS: In 2018, the overall percentage of working age people (working ages 21 to 64) with a disability in AZ was 10.9%.  In other words, in 2018, 424,900 of the 3,910,500 individuals ages 21 to 64 in Arizona reported one or more disabilities.
  2. RETURN ON INVESTMENT: If 2,302 to 6,367 more people with disabilities in Arizona become employed each year for ten years, there be:
  • An increase of between $281.04 million and $818.82 million in gross domestic product (GDP) each year. Over a ten-year period, this would result in up to $8.19 billion added to Arizona’s economy.
  • In the short term, the state could expect the money it collects in taxes to increase by $14.25 million to $41.53 million each year.
  1. WEBINAR PANELIST: Terell Welch, Employment Coordinator, Employer Engagement Administration, Department of Economic Security
    • Most frequent questions and concerns from employers surround the well-being of the employees and how do we manage this during these difficult times?
    • Vocational Rehabilitation Focus

      “With assisted technology and other areas of training and development provided for individuals of vocational rehabilitation, it allows individuals to raise to that level and be successful. We work with employers we have available on (job) placement (for these individuals).” – Terell Welch

  1. WEBINAR PANALIST: Ernest Dianastasis, CEO, The Precisionists
    • The Precisionist is an IT and Business Administrative Services Company that has a large focus on neuro-diverse workforce in addition to neuro-typical workforce. The State of Arizona, SRP, and Cox Communications are customers and partners of The Precisionists.

      “Our driving is to create over 10,000 jobs for people with developmental disabilities within the next 5-10 years. [We] just opened Innovation and Technology Center in Phoenix.  We have about 40 associates now in Phoenix and believe it will grow substantially this year.” – Ernest Dianastasis

  1. WEBINAR PANALIST: Marcia Edwards, Diversity Recruitment Specialist, Workforce Development, Mayo Clinic
    • Mayo Clinic: Project Search – Just launched the program in Arizona! It’s now in the second rotation.  Students are from the Paradise Valley School District and are in an unpaid internship.  They are learning the skills that are needed to work at the Mayo Clinic and in other workplaces.

      “Having someone in my role (Diversity Recruitment Specialist) makes it easier to establish those relationships.” –  Marcia Edwards

  1. Awareness is key!
    “It’s a matter of educating those recruiters and hiring managers on what they see when they are hiring and interviewing.” – Marcia Edwards
  1. Performance mentality – not charity!
    “The (Precisionists) model is based on performance, not charity.  These individuals, if properly prepared, are incredibly high performers.” – Ernest Dianastasis
  1. See the Potential!
    “Get educated and create awareness in the organization about developmental disabilities; understand that this workforce has incredible talent and if prepared properly can add tremendous value to each organization they engage in.” – Ernest Dianastasis
  2. Business Support and Resources
    “To get risk out of the equation, work with an organization that really does this workforce readiness.” – Ernest Dianastasis
  1. Altering Interview Perspective
    “Why has this group ages 18-65 have been over 80% unemployed or under employed for the past 100 years? One reason is because they weren’t able to get through the first 5 minutes of the HR Interview.  They need to be put on a journey to become workplace ready.”  – Ernest Dianastasis

    “Keep an open mind and don’t be so focused on if the resume matches the job description.  Wait until you have this individual in an interview, face to face. When you get to speak with the individuals you get to see their passion.  It’s not always about the resume, but instead ask do they have the passion?”  – Marcia Edwards





Posted by Annelise Patterson