Dads Who Are Breaking Stereotypes About Disability Employment
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a topic that is important to me on both a professional and personal level.
On a professional level, the company that I founded, 100 Percent Wine, is completely and totally dedicated to breaking down stereotypes about what people with disabilities (PwDs) can accomplish in the workplace if only given a chance. On a personal level, my son Matthew is a member of this population and was my inspiration for the business.
I started my company a couple of years ago, so we are just beginning our journey to create change. Through the sale of California wines, we donate all of our profits to charity. More specifically, we donate to local St. Louis charities (where the wine is sold) that support job creation among PwDs.
Along the way, I spoke to and read about a number of dads who were already making a difference in employing PwDs. These dads showed me what is possible.
Let’s meet a few of these all-star fathers:
- Randy Lewis is truly a legend in disability employment. Beginning in 2002 as an executive at Walgreens, he envisioned an employment model for PwDs in distribution centers. He executed this vision in 2007 and still represents a model for companies today. Randy showed that hiring PwDs was not a charitable act but represented a competitive advantage for companies. His employment blueprint is being used today at Proctor & Gamble, Sears, and Office Max, among many others. Randy’s son made him think differently about employment and the results have changed thousands of lives.
- James Emmett, former Disability Program Manager at Walgreens, is another dad making a difference. James has become a national leader in the development of employment services for PwDs. He assists corporations like Pepsico, TIAA-CREF, UPS, and Best Buy with fully inclusive employment programs. James has three daughters living with disabilities, so he and his family know firsthand the challenges of employment.
- Dan Selec and Gary Moore founded the nonPareil Institute, which has been featured in an award-winning documentary called Programming Hope. As the title of the documentary suggests, nonPareil focuses on the unique talents of people with autism in video game and app design. As dads, Dan and Gary were searching for better employment options for their children living with disabilities.
These dads are trying to change the world of employment not only for their children but for all of our children. As fathers of PwDs, we see potential in our children that others miss. There are almost 57 million Americans living with a disability. This represents the largest and fastest growing minority group in the country. Unfortunately, more than two-thirds of this population are completely out of the workforce.
As we celebrate NDEAM, let’s toast the visionary dads who are changing the future for thousands of people with disabilities and showing us all the way!
Scott Monette is a father and the founder of 100 Percent Wine. Monette's son Matthew is a person with a disability, and he is the inspiration behind the business. Monette employs people with disabilities, and 100 percent of the business' profits are used to support organizations in the St. Louis area that promote disability employment.