Ep 184 – Employment Success for People with Disabilities

Welcome to a new series on the Workology Podcast we are kicking off that focuses on the future of work. This series is in collaboration with the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology or PEAT.

We’re talking about how to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Technology that is accessible plays a big role in that and there is a great program in Silicon Valley that is leading the way driving discussion and conversations among some of the biggest, brightest, and most interesting technology providers on how to make the employment process more successful with technology.

A special thank you to our podcast sponsor is ClearCompany

Episode 184: Employment Success for People with Disabilities with Jim Fruchterman (@JimFruchterman)

Today, I’m joined by Jim Fruchterman. He is the founder of Benetech, a non-profit that empowers communities with software for social good uniting two worlds: the social sector and Silicon Valley. They work closely with both communities to identify needs and software solutions that can drive positive social change.

Jim is a former rocket engineer who also founded two successful for-profit high technology companies and has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship and the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, in recognition of his work. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Silicon Valley’s Push to Drive Innovation In the Social Sector & Technology

Jim talks us through the work that Benetech is doing and their role in helping to solve business problems that a number of employers are facing. One of those areas is employment discrimination through the use of or non-use of technology. Benetech’s report featured below is jam-packed with great insights into how much of the HR technology and the many processes we leverage are creating challenges for people with disabilities. Whether it is the candidate selection process and video interviews or employer processes to request accommodation and the use of new technology.

Only 55% of DEI businesses have a company-wide external and internal commitment to digital #accessibility.—2018 Disability Equality Index Report #workology #hr Click To Tweet

In a previous podcast episode with Sassy Outwater last year, we hear the challenges that many people have when it comes to using technology at work if you have a disability. Sassy is sight impaired and uses a screenreader. At a previous employer, she was hired to process payroll, and she and the employer learned quickly that the new payroll processing technology was not screenreader compatible. Things like this create roadblocks for everyone. Benetech and Jim’s work is shining a spotlight on the need for accessible technology to be developed for new and existing tech.

Jim has a unique knowledge because of his background and as someone who has been an organizational leader. His knowledge of artificial intelligence and machine learning development provides insights and discussion points that I’m not hearing from many HR technology companies in our space. Within the podcast, he provides great insights into human capital management, technology development, and accessibility.

Hidden Talent Pool

I’ve long mentioned that one of the biggest areas of opportunities for employers is expanding into hidden and underserved talent pools one of which is people with disabilities. The challenge for employers isn’t just hiring people with disabilities but providing them with the resources, tools, and technologies to be successful in their jobs.  According to the 2019 Disability Equality Index Report, Only 55% of DEI businesses have a company-wide external and internal commitment to digital accessibility. This is accessibility throughout the entire employment life cycle from the application, to interview, to onboard, to exit.

I love Jim’s insights. His understanding of machine learning is refreshing not to mention his knowledge of the HR technology space. We’ll include a link to the Benetech report in the transcript resources of this podcast.

Connect with Jim Fruchterman


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*A special thank you to my production team at Total Picture Radio.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Nick Jones says

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  2. Mandy Fard says

    Thank you for this valuable information. It is very important to bring awareness to the job market for people with disabilities. I often have discussions about this topic with my clients at http://www.market-connections.net and I often refer them to review the best instructional information I find online. I will be sure to refer jobseekers to this blog where they can find all this useful information and use it to their advantage. Thank you.


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