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Oct. 7, 2020

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The leadership of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina knows that if the company is to do its best work, its workforce must represent the members it serves. This means supporting diversity and inclusion.

This environment tells our employees simply: “There is a place for you here.” 

At BlueCross, opportunity is equally accessible, and employees are treated with respect and are invited to provide input. Our diversity of talents, skills, abilities and perspectives contributes to the innovation and creativity that makes us a leader in our industry.

This commitment to diversity and inclusion is something BlueCross puts to work every day. It comes to the forefront during National Disability Employment Awareness Month. All year, we work with community organizations to support employment efforts. BlueCross has worked with Able South Carolina for seven years. 

Sandy Jordan, director of employment programs, shares what the organization is doing to support South Carolinians with disabilities and why employers should be seeking people with disabilities for their workforce. 

Sandy Jordan is the director of employment programs with Able South Carolina. 

Sandy Jordan Hover image

1. What does your organization do in the community? 

Able South Carolina is a Center for Independent Living (CIL), an organization not about “helping” people with disabilities but built on the central concept of self-empowerment. We are a nonprofit, disability advocacy organization that is led by people with disabilities. We provide individualized services and support to people with disabilities and work with community partners, including employers like BlueCross, to create a South Carolina that is inclusive of people with disabilities. 

2. Why is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) important? 

It is important to recognize the strong role that employment plays in most Americans' lives and to realize that Americans with disabilities do not have equal opportunity and access. NDEAM creates an opportunity for us to educate society about people with disabilities and the many talents, skills and abilities they can bring to the workforce. It helps to create a spotlight on the importance of employment as an avenue to self-sufficiency for people with disabilities.

3. What is something you want the public to know about people with disabilities? 

People with disabilities are often great employees. Research has shown that people with disabilities have better attendance rates and stay longer on a job than people without disabilities. As an organization where more than 80 percent of our staff are people with disabilities, we have found that to be true. We encourage people to see the individual first and not automatically make assumptions about people with disabilities. 

4. How has the pandemic affected the work you do and the people you serve?  

As a marginalized community, people with disabilities have been hit hard by the effects of COVID-19. Many people within our community are at an increased risk for COVID-19, so we have had to do a lot of public education, virtual one-on-one counseling, and systems advocacy to protect the rights of people with disabilities during this crisis. We made all of our services virtual at the start of the pandemic, and we also had to develop new programs to address the needs of our consumers right now. We have delivered hundreds of COVID-19 sanitation kits to people with disabilities and their families, which include essential safety and sanitation items that they need, but may have trouble obtaining because of financial troubles, safety concerns or transportation issues. We are grateful for the partners who have continued to work with us and support our programming at a time where it couldn’t be more critical.

5. How do you work with BlueCross? 

BlueCross has been a partner of ours for many years. The company is actively involved in our statewide campaign, Hire Me SC, to decrease employment barriers for people with disabilities. It shares best practices around creating inclusive workplaces with other employers through our business to business networking group, the Business Coalition. BlueCross has participated in and sponsored our annual Employer Summit and sponsored our annual gala, Fundable. We value our partnership with BlueCross and praise the company’s commitment to creating an inclusive workforce while also helping others with disability employment efforts. 

6. How does South Carolina compare to other states in terms of inclusive workplaces or providing options for people with disabilities? 

Unfortunately, South Carolina has a long way to go to create equal employment access for people with disabilities. We have the sixth-highest unemployment rate for people with disabilities, and people with disabilities in South Carolina are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than people without. Not only do people with disabilities experience discrimination from employers but they also lack equal access to training and education and have barriers getting the services and support they need from disability employment agencies. If you’re a community member, educator, parent or a person with a disability, we encourage you to check out the Hire Me SC website for information and resources on how you can build a more inclusive workforce for South Carolina today. 

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