Microsoft and NBDC Announce Able to Work Consortium

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 25, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. Chairman and CEO Bill Gates today announced the formation of Able to Work, an independent business consortium dedicated to increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Together with the National Business & Disability Council (NBDC), Microsoft has assembled an Able to Work membership of 21 leading North American companies, all of which will bring their experience to bear in identifying tools and strategies to help businesses in every industry tap into this capable, motivated work force. With an unemployment rate topping 70 percent among working-age people with disabilities, this is the most underutilized segment of America’s work force.

“Businesses in virtually every industry – the technology industry not excepted – are struggling today to find enough qualified applicants to fill open jobs,”
Gates said during his keynote speech to the NBDC annual CEO conference.
“With this in mind, and with a strong belief that accessible technology can be part of the solution, Microsoft conceived of Able to Work to raise awareness of the value in recruiting and hiring people with disabilities, and to provide concrete tools and information to help businesses understand and tap into this work force.”

Able to Work, led by Executive Director Francine Tishman and managed on an ongoing basis by NBDC, will undertake two main initiatives during its first year. Abletowork.org, a new interactive Web site available today, provides member companies and others with an online venue for posting job openings, as well as a resume posting service that allows them to search and review thousands of resumes from individuals with disabilities who have completed post-high-school education and/or training.

In addition, Able to Work members will participate in a pilot employment program to be conducted in partnership with the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults With Disabilities. This alliance between government and business, pushing forward on employment issues that impact both groups, will lead to specific, measurable opportunities for people with disabilities in the workplace. Specifics of the program will be announced by the task force later this fall.

Able to Work members represent a range of industries, including high technology, consumer products, financial services, manufacturing and staffing services. All currently recruit and hire people with disabilities in their workplaces. Through Able to Work, these companies will provide mentoring and direction to both small and large businesses throughout the country that haven’t begun recruiting potential employees with disabilities. Able to Work charter members include the following organizations:

  • AT & T Corp.

  • AT & T Wireless

  • Bank of America Corp.

  • Booz, Allen & Hamilton

  • Caterpillar Inc.

  • Crestar Bank
    A Subsidiary of SunTrust Banks Inc.

  • Ford Motor Co.

  • Honeywell Inc.

  • IBM Corp.

  • Johnson & Johnson

  • Lucent Technologies Inc.

  • MBNA Corp.

  • Medtronic Physio-Control Inc.

  • Merrill Lynch & Co.

  • Microsoft

  • NCR Corp.

  • Procter & Gamble Co.

  • Royal Bank of Canada

  • SAFECO Corp.

  • Staffcentrix.com

  • UnumProvident Corporation

  • Washington Mutual Inc.

“The fact that Able to Work represents some of North America’s most successful and respected companies underscores our belief that the business community is extremely motivated to address the problem of underemployment among individuals with disabilities, and that they recognize the strong business case for doing so,”
said Francine Tishman, executive director of both Able to Work and NBDC.
“We’re looking forward to rolling up our sleeves with the members to identify new recruiting and accommodation ideas and strategies, and to getting started on the Web site and pilot programs right away.”

Microsoft has long worked with the disability community to identify the technology needs of people with disabilities, with an emphasis on how those technologies can empower people in the workplace. With the 10th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act approaching in June 2000, and the unemployment rate of people with disabilities still staggeringly high, the company decided to take action in addressing this problem in concert with other major U.S. employers.

About NBDC

The National Business & Disability Council is the leading national resource for the successful integration of persons with disabilities into the work force and consumer marketplace. Comprising many Fortune 1000 corporate members with headquarters throughout the country, NBDC members collectively employ approximately 600,000 workers with disabilities.

NBDC is the recipient of the prestigious U.S. Department of Labor EPIC Award for its achievements in working with the business community. Its services include an online information hot line, job postings, monthly informational updates, a newsletter, customized staff training programs, accessibility surveys, conferences, and a national resume database. Larry Gloeckler, deputy commissioner of New York State, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services is among several experts who will advise corporate consortium members on issues facing employment of persons with disabilities.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.


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Microsoft today joined the National Business and Disabilities Council and 21 North American companies to form the Able to Work Consortium, a new initiative aimed at sharing tools and strategies for recruiting and hiring people with disabilities.