Episode 343: The Benefits of Creating Opportunities for People With Disabilities With Pat Romzek

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Episode 343: The Benefits of Creating Opportunities for People With Disabilities With Pat Romzek

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Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools, and case studies for the business leader, HR, and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

Episode 343: The Benefits of Creating Opportunities for People With Disabilities With Pat Romzek


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:25.35] The Workology Podcast is sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of a special series powered by the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship, or PIA. PIA is funded by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, or ODEP. ODEP launched PIA to ensure all apprenticeship programs are inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. PIA collaborates with employers and apprenticeship programs to help meet employer talent needs and enable people with disabilities to benefit from apprenticeships that increase their opportunities for lifelong access to high-growth and high-demand jobs. Today, I’m joined by Pat Romzek. He’s a retired IT executive community leader, CEO CEO of Three Talents LLC., and Founder/ Executive Director of the Bridge to Opportunity Program. Pat has dedicated his post-retirement work to advocating and enriching the lives of people with disabilities and children with special needs. Since his retirement in 2017 as Vice President of Cloud Sales Strategy at Cisco Systems, he serves on several non-profit boards, works to expand Bridge to Opportunity programs globally, and provides strategic leadership to various organizations worldwide. While at Cisco, Pat founded, developed and led an award-winning global disability employment program. After retiring from Cisco, he led the development of several innovative and transformative Cisco Networking Academy programs for people with disabilities that enable meaningful employment. Pat, welcome back to the Workology Podcast.

Pat Romzek: [00:02:09.42] Thank you, Jessica. It’s truly a pleasure to be here and thank you so much for what you do.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:16.44] Awesome. And this is the second time that you have been on the podcast, so welcome back.

Pat Romzek: [00:02:21.51] Yeah, thank you. I guess I couldn’t have been too bad for you to have me want to come back. So thank you. It’s great to be here. You guys do great work.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:30.12] It’s been like five years. So you were one of my first podcast interviews that I did when I first started working with the PIA and the PIA team. So it’s, it’s exciting to reconnect.

Pat Romzek: [00:02:42.90] Indeed, it is. And I remember the previous broadcast, although it just seemed like yesterday. So when you come, it’s five years ago. That’s kind of a surprise to me, but that, that’s not a surprise to me, you know? It felt like yesterday.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:56.55] It feels like a hundred years. And then it feels like yesterday.

Pat Romzek: [00:02:59.82] So. Exactly.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:02.34] Well, let’s jump right in and talk about your background and what led you to work in disability employment programs.

Pat Romzek: [00:03:09.51] Yeah. So thank you, Jessica. I, so the short story is, you heard in the intro, thank you for that kind intro. I worked for many years in the IT industry. I’m also the parent of a son with disabilities. He has Down Syndrome and I was doing not some work in this space and what I realized my day job, I’m working in the IT industry, I was in IT leader in a couple of different big IT companies. And then in my night-weekend work, I’m working with people with disabilities and realize there’s a whole lot of people with disabilities that would love to have a job but are often not considered. Four out of five of them are unemployed. So in my day job, you know, we couldn’t find enough talent and certainly not loyal long term talent for entry level jobs. And in my night-weekend work, I realized there’s a huge population of potential candidates out there that people would not normally think of, that were fully capable of these roles. So that’s where the name Bridge came from is, you know, we decided to create a bridge from one side of the river to the other. And, and the bridge is, is enabling and helping people that are capable develop the skills and expertise to secure a meaningful job. And when, when they do, it’s magical and it can have a really transformative impact on their life.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:04:29.70] Thank you for sharing your story. I think it’s important to kind of set the stage and then talk to us more about what the Bridge to Opportunity program or Bridge Academies is.

Pat Romzek: [00:04:42.14] Ok, great. So it’s a program focused on providing accessible, adapted IT training for people with disabilities, including a certification. An industry certification that often will help them get a job, provides the skills needed for jobs of today, leveraging an industry recognized leading curriculum that’s recognized all over the world. So we recruit intentionally, bring people with disabilities into the program, we adapt the program to their needs. We provide them training and certification, on not only IT, information technology topics, but also on, you know, kind of work, you know, I call it ready for work training, right? It’s how do you work in this industry? How can you be successful in this industry? What what’s it like to work in an IT job? You know, how do you build a resume? How do you get yourself noticed? How do you advance once you’re in the job? All those kinds of things. And we do it through a partnership in each community. So we work with a partner who is committed to the same mission and delivered in that community. And part of that partnership that we create at the local level is funding. So this program is free to candidates. It’s always funded by somebody else, either a donor or a government program, so that, you know, we can, we can enable a student who has high aspirations and high potential, but maybe doesn’t have the right experiences. Put them through a program in less than a year, leading to a meaningful job that could change their life and do so tuition free to the candidate.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:23.07] Awesome. And I know you’re you’re changing so many people’s lives. I, just, just the small amount of work that I do with this podcast and a few other things. It makes a meaningful, I mean, a really meaningful impact. So it’s, it’s not just changing the lives of one person, but everyone that that individual touches.

Pat Romzek: [00:06:45.43] You know, and I agree, Jessica, that’s a great point, and I would even go a step further and say that you could be potentially changing lives for generations. So, you know, one of our students, candidates, you know, went through the program, unemployed, single mom, three kids, unable to secure meaningful job, struggling to even get considered for jobs, went through the program, certified, and ultimately got a job. When you think about what difference does it make for a child if their parents have a job, right? And, and self-esteem and all the things that come from a job? So yes, it not only affects their family members and everybody they touch, but it could be affecting people for generations because you’ve changed the trajectory of someone’s life.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:31.21] That just gives me chills thinking about it really.

Pat Romzek: [00:07:34.24] Well, that’s what inspires us to just go, to be honest. I mean, you know, people sometimes will ask me, you know, Well, why do you do this? I do it because of the students. They inspire me. I mean, I hear these stories. I’m blessed because I get to hear these stories and hear about lives that, you know, have been changed. And it really makes you want to work even harder to make a difference

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:56.62] From your experience. I wanted to have you talk a bit about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities a little bit more.

Pat Romzek: [00:08:03.70] Mm hmm. Great. Happy to do that. The thing I would start out even before I get into, what’s the benefits of hiring these folks, when we do this right and the right kind of partnership in a given community, everybody benefits. So we talked about the benefits to the candidate because now they have a job and you know, and all that comes with it, self-esteem and financial stability. But it benefits the community at large because now you’re taking a population of folks that would be otherwise maybe dependent on public assistance that now can be taxpayers and active members of the community and contributors to community. You know, government programs benefit because now they’re having real impact. Everybody benefits employers benefits. So that’s your specific point. So if you hire a person with disabilities, what’s the benefit? The benefits are they’re much more loyal and they achieve better. They can achieve better. If if, if the write in candidate in the right job, they’ll have higher productivity, they’ll they’ll have lower turnover. Many examples and studies have proven this lower error rates, lower turnover. They really enhance the company culture and they help make your workforce better. There’s a lot of other specific things that you’ll see, but those are the big ones that you know most employers will find by hiring this population.

Pat Romzek: [00:09:26.33] Well, if I could comment, Jessica, one other thing probably longer answer and you want it. But you know, many employers struggle and I hear this all the time finding specific talent around specific areas like cybersecurity. Well, one of the areas that we found a lot of success is. Training and upskilling people for entry level, you know, kind of cybersecurity jobs. Well, that’s a population. That’s a job that employers struggle to find talent. And if they do find talent, oftentimes they’ll go to work at a given company. And, you know, six months later, they go somewhere else. One of the things that the real value of hiring people with disabilities is they tend to be very loyal. So, you know, obviously everybody’s an individual, everybody’s different. But in generalities, the loyalty to that company is much higher. And there’s many studies that show that their turnover is lower, both short-term absenteeism kind of showing up for work, but also longer term turnover is much lower. So these are people that if you give them a chance, they will prove themselves and be some of your best employees for a long time.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:10:30.59] This has also been my experience, and I feel like as if you’re an HR leader and you are experience, the organization is experiencing a lot of turnover right now and there’s a lot of stress around all the things that are happening in terms of talent, funnels and finding the right people and keeping the right people. Every time should, all the time should be the time that we should be looking at different groups of people to bring into our organization. But this is a particular area that’s causing a lot of people pain. And so bringing forth a new idea, maybe, which I don’t think is a new idea, it’s an old idea for you and me, but a new group of people who happen to need just a little bit of training and they happen to have disabilities, I think is a great thing for leaders to explore right now to really lower that turnover, get some high quality people to come through the door with just a little bit of training, they can really flourish and be some of your best people in the organization.

Pat Romzek: [00:11:34.85] Exactly, Jessica. And you know, so you think about it, you know, a couple, a couple of comments, if I could add on to what you say, you’re a hundred percent, you’re hundred percent, you know, right from, from my experience in that, you know, yes, you’re investing in employee, but you invest in every employee. So first of all, it’s an untapped talent pool. This is a talent pool that is capable with the right training and experience, and that’s what we try to provide. So that’s how we become sort of the bridge. But they’re capable. These are folks that are extraordinary in their own right. They simply need a little bit of training, some skills and an opportunity to prove themselves. And you think about any employee that a company hires, you make an investment in that employee. So what’s the return on investment? If, if you invest in an employee and you do a bunch of training and OK, maybe they don’t have a disability. So you know, you don’t have to adapt, you know, to their disability, but you’re still training them on your tools and processes and systems and how you do things and culture. And then they leave in six months and you’re going to do it all over again. Versus, OK, yes, you have to, you know, you know, provide some training and adaptations for these folks to come into the workforce. But once you do that, investment will pay it forward for years to come. Contrary to what most people think. Most people think that, well, people with a disability in that particular job are going to do the job the same way as another employee. It’s actually the opposite. They tend to outperform other employees because they’re, they have character traits that a lot of typical employees don’t have. So if you invest in them, they’re not only going to become your best employee, like you said, but they’re going to be your best employee for a long time. And very loyal, which makes your workforce and culture better.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:13:24.41] Well, I want to switch gears just a bit and talk about inclusive apprenticeship programs. So if you could maybe talk to us about what those are and then what makes an apprenticeship program inclusive for maybe those who aren’t aware?

Pat Romzek: [00:13:38.41] So an inclusive apprenticeship program is think of it as a on the job training. You know, there’s a lot of different names in the IT industry. Some people will call these internships, some companies call them internships. Some companies will call them apprenticeship. Some of them will call, I was in a meeting this morning, they were talking about an on the job experience program. Well, you know, different names, similar things. They’re all programs where it’s not permanent employment, meaning that it’s paid, usually it’s paid, but it’s, it’s not forever in the sense that you normally you know, you go into a program into a, into a job that you have to prove yourself. You learn, what the employer provides is education about the job, the requirements, the expectations, the culture, all those things and what the employee provides is contribution to the company and that at the end of a predefined period of time, whatever that might be, three, four, five six months, whatever, the employee and the employer decide this is a great fit, we want to continue this into a permanent employment arrangement or not. And if not, the candidate then moves on to the another opportunity, but at least they’ve had that job experience now of working in the real world.

Pat Romzek: [00:14:54.69] What makes it inclusive is really simple, it’s just adapting it to the needs of the candidate, whatever they might be. There’s a lot of candidates that don’t really need any significant adaptation. They might have a disability, but it might be, it might be a mobility impairment. Well, guess what? How many people work from home? Many, many, many people work from home now because of COVID. So the fact that you’re, you don’t, you can’t drive may not be an impairment at all. You know, you’re working out of your home and your home office, whatever. Some impairments are, require greater accommodations but there are many programs to provide accommodations. And these folks, you know, these candidates can do the same job as anybody else. So what makes it inclusive is adapting it to this population and not only adapting the job to the population, but welcoming them. And it’s an attitude of inclusion where you’re welcoming them to be fully part of your company and the culture of your organization and everything that comes with that.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:15:55.77] I love that they’re learning a skill or experience and getting that additional training so that they can experience what the workplace is like, because if they have been out of work for a period of time or haven’t been in a corporate environment, they might not be super comfortable or, or familiar, and they can ask questions and learn, and then you can make the decision, is this person a good fit for our organization? They learn this skill. Can, do we want them to stay on board with us? But either way, they have had a work experience where they’ve gained some new skills that they can take with them, whether it’s at your place or another employer.

Pat Romzek: [00:16:38.31] That’s exactly right, that’s exactly right. It’s sort of a, you know, it’s a trial employment opportunity for both parties. You know, the candidate may feel not comfortable and wants to go off to something else or the employer may say, Yeah, you know, you know, it’s not a fit for permanent employment. But either way, both the candidate and the employer benefit from the apprenticeship or internship because the candidate is more prepared for the next job. The employer has gotten some benefit for that period of time and had an opportunity to evaluate the candidate. You know, sometimes you don’t know the full capability of somebody until you work with them for a while. And vice versa, sometimes people don’t reach their full potential until they really get embedded in your culture and your, you know, processes and in relationships network inside the company. Well, it benefits everybody.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:17:31.20] And that’s the same for all people that come into your organization. Sometimes you hire someone, you thought they were going to be a superstar, and they are not a fit. It doesn’t matter if they have a disability or not. That happens and, you know.

Pat Romzek: [00:17:45.75] Clinging to miss. That’s right. But, but there’s no long-term commitment. That’s the beautiful thing about this for either party. So, you know, that’s exactly right. So they can assess, the employer can assess and the candidate can assess if this is a great long-term fit. Without obligation, so at the end of the apprenticeship or internship program, typically, typically, you know, this is a typical example. You know, it’s kind of a, can go either way, right? The candidate can be hired by that employer. That’s an ideal scenario. Or there’s, everybody agrees in advance that the internship or apprenticeship is for a predefined period of time that doesn’t, there’s no guarantee of permanent employment. So there’s no hard feelings and everybody benefits.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:18:31.13] Based on our conversation thus far, I feel like whether it’s apprenticeships or a certification program or some sort of credentialing that happens, training, upskilling, it, it provides the same type of benefits that we’ve been talking about thus far for, for the, for the, the employee who’s going through that program.

Pat Romzek: [00:18:55.13] Yes, certification matters, Jessica. If I could talk about that for a minute, typically in IT. So because, typically employers want to know that you have a demonstrated expertise in a specific area. A global certification gives you that it’s sort of a stamp of approval that this candidate has a baseline set of skills and knowledge in a specific area that would be of need. And what we try to do is align the job target and certification to what the employers needs are. So for example, if the employer is looking for somebody, that’s a kind of an entry-level, you know, network security, cybersecurity kind of role. And almost every company in the planet is hiring that candidate right now, that type of skill right now. Well, we can have somebody be certified with that specific skill so they know coming in the door, they’ve got a certain skill set. The other option, with an apprenticeship, you’re absolutely right. They could come into the organization and they get experience with that candidate and then they know that they’re capable. So they do in some ways target the same thing. But a certification just gives an employer an extra set of assurances on the front end that the candidate has got the skills they’re looking for other than just, you know, a resume. Or, you know, Hey, I, you know, I did this at a previous company. It’s a higher level of assurance for the employer.

Break: [00:20:20.13] Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell, and you were listening to the Workology Podcast sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. Today we are talking with Pat Romzek. He’s the Executive Director of the Bridge Opportunity Program. This podcast you’re listening to right now, right now, is part of a series powered by the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship or PIA.

Break: [00:20:43.98] This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of a new podcast series powered by the Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship, or PIA. PIA is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, ODEP. ODEP launched PIA to ensure all apprenticeship programs are inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. PIA collaborates with employers and apprenticeship programs to help meet employer talent needs and enable people with disabilities to benefit from apprenticeships that increase their opportunities for lifelong access to high-growth, high-demand jobs.

Primary Hiring Needs in the Market in 2022


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:21:20.52] I want to talk a little bit about the hiring partners that you’ve worked with or when you’ve worked with a, with a partner organization. You talked a little bit about some of this, but what do you see as their primary hiring needs in the market right now? What’s going on?

Pat Romzek: [00:21:35.91] Entry-level information technology jobs are in high demand. There’s some different estimates, but most people think there’s like four million open jobs in the U.S. right now. So you can go on Indeed or ZipRecruiter and do a search on IT technician. And there’s probably a couple of hundred jobs open in whatever state you’re in. So the jobs that we target that are in high demand and that are jobs that these, you know, our candidates can fulfill are either entry-level like tech, information technology technician jobs that lead to a job and kind of like a, you know, a helpdesk or some sort of a technician or network technician or, or onsite technician that you know, somebody that comes and solves your problem when you have it with your computer or your network or your communication. The other job that is in very high demand right now is cybersecurity analyst jobs. Now we prepare people for entry, typically, these are brought in as entry-levels. And, and then occasionally some employers are looking for sort of genius-level cybersecurity people. But what we try to provide, there are some of those, but oftentimes the better approach is to have them come in as sort of a junior analyst or entry-level analyst or there’s different titles for them. But basically, it’s a cybersecurity analyst job, entry-level cybersecurity analyst jobs. And we placed a lot of people in those kinds of jobs and they learn and they go into the company and they provide value to the company, protecting the organization’s information assets from hacking and, you know, nefarious behavior.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:23:14.50] Which is a real thing, I mean, every day I am getting some crazy stuff, phishing emails. I’m sure HR leaders have, have been thinking about DOD attacks for disruption of service and, and various things that I mean, we had never thought about that much before, but especially since we’re all working from home, it’s, it’s a lot more complex than it ever was.

Pat Romzek: [00:23:39.84] And the need for those kinds of resources are greater than ever. So while overall employment levels might be sort of pre-pandemic levels, the growth in these kinds of jobs is sort of off the charts. Most companies, many companies I talked to are hiring this kind of talent, especially companies that have any kind of focus on technology, financial services, confidential employee data like health care. You know, all of them are really trying very hard to harden down their systems and, and, and detect threats so that they can protect all their information assets. So you’re exactly right. The digitization of companies is accelerating because of the pandemic, because you want to access all this digital data from home. Well, guess what, the company has to digitize. When all that data is digitized, it exposes you to more external threats. How do you protect that? You protect that with, you know, cyber, a threat defense strategy which includes people that know this area. And that’s what we, we can build a skill set to do that. Entry-level skill set, but a skill set that can really be very beneficial to a company.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:24:53.28] If you’ve listened to this podcast and this last part has really perked you up because you’re like, Yes, I have these needs, yes, I’m having trouble finding people, how do I get in touch with Pat? We will include his LinkedIn information and links to his web page on the show notes, so that you can get in touch with them and say, Hey, I need help in this area. I want to leverage your resources because this is a, a really important area that we’re hiring for right now, and we’re just not coming up finding any quality people to step into these roles.

Pat Romzek: [00:25:25.74] That’s exactly. Happy to help any and all. You know, especially employers understand, and Jessica, you know this, right? Understand that there’s a great opportunity here for real impact. Requires a little bit of work, not a lot of work for the employer, but the payoff is huge.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:25:44.82] Agreed. I, I just want to I feel like we danced around this particular question, but I just want to call it out because I feel like it’s so important for us to just to discuss this inclusive apprenticeship programs, this inclusive hiring that we’re doing. It’s fulfilling our needs from a talent acquisition aspect. But how is this impacting diversity and inclusion for some of the clients that you’re working with?

Pat Romzek: [00:26:10.53] Yeah, that’s a great, that’s a great question. I probably didn’t explain that. So this is part of your diversity. It should be part of your diversity strategy. This is a diverse workforce. It sort of counts as a diversity hire. It’s just not what a lot of times most companies, many companies, you know, are focused on expanding diversity, but they’re focused on gender and ethnicity. They are thinking about diverse people that are diverse learners, people that have disabilities, you know, people that think differently, neurodiverse individuals. This is a diverse workforce that makes your company better, not only from a workforce point of view and culture, because now your workforce is more diverse. But there’s been a number of studies that people, you know, diverse candidates are more, you know, bring a level of innovation and performance that you might not get out of a typical workforce. So there’s a lot of benefits of hiring a diverse workforce that I’ve been, well, you know, documented. This is a part of a diverse strategy. It should be part of a diversity strategy. It’s not always for great companies, it is. They figured this out, and they’ve made it a real cornerstone of their strategy because they realize it’s a huge untapped talent pool that not only benefits the diversity and culture of my company, my workforce, but highly productive, highly effective, you know, highly impactful. And, and again, as I said earlier, everybody benefits the candidate benefits, the community benefits, the employer benefits, everybody benefits. So it’s a win-win-win. This is one of those very few things that is a win-win-win. Everybody sort of benefits. That’s in all the stakeholders benefit. Nobody doesn’t benefit from this strategy. And to your point, it, it should be part of a diversity strategy.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:28:00.79] Agreed. I, while I, I feel like there is so much attention to gender and then ethnicity, those are very important. I don’t want to discount them in any way. However, oftentimes we look past people with disabilities in terms of our DEIA strategy and just focus on those two areas that I mentioned. And this is a really competent and amazing group of people that we, we really should consider or not even consider. We have to add them to, to our existing programs or include them in our DEIA initiatives.

Pat Romzek: [00:28:42.80] Exactly, and there are many examples, and I won’t mention names here, I can’t, of people that are doing amazing things in the world or have done amazing things to the world, in the world that were diverse learners, that by today’s standards would be considered diverse or with a disability. You know, one of the people that wants to colonize Mars, I’ll let you think about who that is, is a diverse learner, is neurodiverse. You know, one of the founders of the auto industry was neurodiverse. One of the greatest inventors of all time was neurodiverse. So, you know, people don’t. It’s not just, I guess, I’m trying to make the point, Jessica, and maybe my last comment here. This is not just charity work. Yes, it’s good for your diversity strategy, but it’s more than that, right? It’s not. Gosh, we’re going to hire this group of folks because, you know, we feel sorry. They don’t want pity. They want a job. They want to prove themselves. What I find from most of these candidates is they want an opportunity to prove themselves. It’s that simple. They’re not looking for a handout, necessarily. They’re not looking for charity. They’re looking to make an impact. And isn’t that the kind of people we want in our organization?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:29:59.28] Absolutely. We want someone who is going to go in, learn, grow, and be able to make an impact and stick around our company, right?

Pat Romzek: [00:30:09.48] Yes. When you make the investment and they’re going to be with you for the long haul. They’re not going to leave in six months and go to your competitor.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:30:15.48] Well, as always, Pat, I love chatting with you and catching up. I love, I love the work that you’re doing. I know we could talk forever and I wanted to give you an opportunity to maybe share with them where they can go to learn more about you. If they’re like, Yes, I want to get involved or I want to connect with you. Where does that need to be?

Pat Romzek: [00:30:37.98] Yeah. Thank you, Jessica. Same thing. I mean, I could talk to you for hours, right? So I mean, I think we, we’re very much kind of finish each other’s sentences. So it’s always enjoyable to talk to you and, and this audience. Two places they can go to get more information. Number one, LinkedIn, you can message me there, Patrick Romzek, R O M Z E K. I think you’re going to provide that. I also have a website which you can click on, find more information. The website’s really simple. Bridge to, T O, opportunity, .org, BridgeToOpportunity.org, and we can provide the URL to people. But if they don’t know where else to go and they want to find out more about the Bridge To Opportunity, it is a bridge to opportunity. Go to our website and just click on, you know, more information and I’ll get back in touch with you or one of our staff will. We can talk further about how we can help make your company better and more diverse and provide significant benefit to everyone else, all the other stakeholders, your partners, the community, et cetera.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:31:40.32] Well, thanks again, Pat, and we’ll have all the links in the show notes, too, so you can definitely go there along with some other resources. I think we’re, have a resource on inclusive manufacturing, the impact of disability, diversity on productivity. So a lot of good resources that’ll be on the show notes for this particular pocket podcast episode as well.

Pat Romzek: [00:32:02.13] If I could say one last thing, Jessica, I would also ask people to come back and, you know, stay, stay close to this because there’s some really great work being done by, you know, ODEP, the PIA team, the Department of Labor, on this topic. So there’s a whole stream of things coming that will add even more value for, you know, folks that, you know, might be thinking about, you know, a better and diverse workforce. So lots and lots more coming to that I’m pretty familiar with. So, you know, circle back, stay close to that, too.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:32:38.13] Amazing. Well, thank you again, Pat. I really appreciate having you on the podcast.

Pat Romzek: [00:32:41.55] My pleasure. It was my pleasure. Thank you. Have a great day. And thanks again.

Closing: [00:32:45.72] I appreciate Pat being on the podcast again. So much employment for people with disabilities is such an interesting area for HR leaders to focus, and particularly with Pat’s experience in this launching a disability employment program at a large organization like Cisco and now working with employers, maybe like you, to help train and upskill people with disabilities to bring them into their organizations, it’s such a great conversation for us to have. It’s important for us to focus on this area because I know you’re, maybe you’re like me, and I’m hearing it from everybody, we are struggling to fill hiring roles as well as diversity and inclusion program goals. So Pat’s interview, I hope, inspires you, gives you some hope, some resources that you can bring with you as you look at hiring top talent and also adding or growing or including people with disabilities in your disability, and inclusion, equity and, and accessibility programs. Thank you to Pat and for you listening. He had such great insights for us today. The Workology Podcast is sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. Thank you to PIA, which is powering this series on inclusive apprenticeship programs.

Closing: [00:32:45.72] Personal and professional development is essential for successful HR leaders. Join Upskill HR to access live training, community, and over one hundred on-demand courses for the dynamic leader. HR recert credits available. Visit UpskillHR.com for more.

Closing: [00:34:24.03] This podcast is for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. My name is Jessica Miller Merrell, and until next time, you can visit Workology.com to listen to all our Workology Podcast episodes.

Connect with Pat Romzek.



– Pat Romzek on LinkedIn

– Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship

– The Value of Inclusive Apprenticeships

– Inclusive Manufacturing: The Impact of Disability Diversity on Productivity in a Work Integration Social Enterprise

– Episode 337: The Difference Between Equity and Being Equal With Dawn Frazier-Bohnert

– Episode 339: What Perfect Looks Like for Accessibility With Dave Dame, Director of Accessibility at Microsoft

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