NOD: Partnering to Increase Disability Awareness & Workplace Inclusion

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According to the National Organization on Disability (NOD), 61 million people in the U.S. have a disability. Of those 33 million are working-aged adults, and 74 percent of these disabilities are non-visible.

NOD’s mission is to increase employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities. Through their programs and services, companies are able to realize the advantages of hiring people with disabilities.

Bridges to Business Program

Toyota began working on a pilot program with NOD’s employer services team in 2018 led by Felicia Nurmsen, managing director.  

“Our employment services are based on NOD’s innovative project, Bridges to Business. The project was cited by Rutgers University as the most successful model used for bringing persons with disabilities into a professional working environment,” said Nurmsen. “We work together to understand the employer’s needs and then help facilitate the hiring process.”

Through this program, Toyota has been able to implement some of the NOD suggestions to increase disability awareness and inclusion in the workplace.

Annual Survey Improvement

In the first three years of working together, Toyota significantly improved the company’s standing in the NOD annual survey of employers. When Toyota expanded its partnership with NOD, it saw even greater progress in 2018 and 2019 as the recommendations from NOD were implemented.

“We value the relationship with NOD and are looking forward to continuing to work together,” said Candice Nash, diversity and inclusion manager, Toyota.

With some of the suggestions from NOD’s team, Toyota was able to advance to scoring above the benchmark in all categories measured by 2020.  

“If we could have a client like Toyota for all our projects, it would be fantastic,” said Nurmsen. “We were in it together; the Toyota team worked as our partners, making it easier to try different things during the pilot.”

Going Above and Beyond

Toyota went beyond simply taking actions based on the initial NOD recommendations.  Mark Templin, CEO of TFS, joined the NOD board of directors to encourage disability inclusion in the workplace.  As a director, Templin joins with a slate of other business leaders who are influencing their companies and those across America to build disability inclusive workplaces.

Each year, the Toyota team continues to introduce team members to education on disability awareness and inclusion. The training focuses on how to recognize and mitigate unconscious biases when it comes to working with people with disabilities.

Through work with partners like NOD, Toyota continues to create limitless possibilities for all.